Saturday, June 06, 2009

Prague (Day 11-12)

This day we were off to Prague - or Praha - or as I call it Prahague!!
When Phoebe and I awoke we were like bears coming out of hybernation... we kept making these groany sounds and yawns and general tired noises... neither of us wanted to jump out of bed, so we laid there for a little while until we HAD to start the day!
I was very excited for Prague, on my list of places I was excited about on this trip Prague was second after Paris!

On the train Phoebe and I finished Sound of Music... and therefore you can imagine the singing we did for the remainder of the trip... we had the WHOLE soundtrack in our heads!
We got to Prague, exchanged some money (neither of us knew how much to get out because we had no idea what the exchange rate was! But once we had money we hopped on the metro to our hostel! Note: the ticket windows are almost completely black, so you can't see the person on the otherside... I couldn't even tell if someone was at the window until I just started talking and they started talking back. Speaking of talking... neither Phoebe nor myself took the time to learn any Czech phrases and we felt terrible... but we just walked up to people and said "English?" and more times than not, people spoke English... which was nice.
In prague we were alone in the room again (this again was not what we had reserved, so it was an AWESOME surprise!)
We quickly dropped our stuff and then headed out for some sights. We kept pretty much to the East side of the river for the day.
Our first stop was the Astronomical Clock in the middle of the Old Town Square... it was voted the #1 Overrated tourist attraction in Europe!! YAY! We saw it go off and it is seriously the lamest show ever... so whenever we would walk by the clock from then on out we would watch the people's faces as they watched the clock strike the top of the hour... it was hilarious to see the excitement and then almost the immediate confusion and disappointment... classic.

The clock itself is actually pretty often despite it's lame top of the hour show... It is not just a regular clock, but it also keeps the time, date, babylonian time, it keeps track of the solstice, position of the sun and moon, and the zodiac!! Very cool! It was designed by a man named Mikuláš of Kadaň and was the most amazing clock of its time... but the story goes that Kadaň was designing another one to rival this clock for another city... Prague couldn't deal with that so some city councel members entered Kadaň's house one night in black cloaks and gouged out the clock maker's eyes. Kadaň didn't know who did this to him for a while, but regardless he unable to finish the clock he was working on. When he DID discovered who was behind his attack, he descretely returned to the Prague clock and broke it! HA! No one could figure out how to fix it for 100 years until a man named Jan Šindel fixed the clock! So it works now.
Other components of the clock include windows were the 12 apostles walk by at the top of the hour and it also displays the 4 perils on either side of the clock face... the 4 perils are Turks (haha), death, Greed (which at one time had a beard and actually stood for Jews... but was changed after WWII, and Vanity

Here is other shots of the Old Town Square in Prague - seriously BEAUTIFUL!!

After seeing the clock we got some Gelato to go from this stand near the Town Square... the guy who served us was SUCH a JERK! I think he automatically thought we were idiot tourists and therefore mocked us the entire time he was getting our cones - in english though! He also short changed Phoebe and when she brought it up to him (kindly I might add) he reacted like we had accused him of murder. Jeepers man! He gained a rather unkind nickname from us and every time we passed by his stand we would curse his name and mumble insults at him under our breath.
We then moved on to the Old Jewish Cemetery... this place was WAY over priced for what it was and I wasn't expecting to have to pay ANYTHING to go into a cemetery, but we did. The Jewish Cemetery is famous because in Prague for a long time there was prevelant Jewish persecution and the Jews were only allowed to be buried in this cemetery pretty much, so there are TONS of graves SMASHED together and the ground holds almost 12 layers of graves... WOW!

Those were our 2 bigs sights for the day, so the rest of the afternoon was spent shopping and picture taking

We also scoped out souvenir ideas in the gift shops. Prague is known for their glass products and you have no idea the fear of knocking something over and it shattering on the floor accidentally... or the temptation to spin around in the shop and break everything... it's a toss up.
That evening Phoebe and I took a ghost tour around the city to hear all the creepy stories of the paranormal in Prague... not to my surprise it was rather lame of the creepy front, but it was informative on the historical front.
It also turned out that Phoebe and I were the ONLY ones on the ghost tour with our guide Nahome. He was happy to take the two of us anyhow and it was fun asking any questions we wanted and making jokes with him about all the sights. He was a very nice man.

Our second day of Prague began with a visit to The Church of the Severed Arm... actually it is called St Jacob's church, but it has a severed arm in it and I feel the name of the church should reflect as much. The story goes (as we heard on the ghost tour) that a thief broke into the church to steal the gold off the statue of the Virgin Mary... while in the process of chiseling away the statue grabbed his arm and wouldn't let go! Well the man, in his horror screamed like a little girl waking up the bishop... he too could not get the thief's arm free so the only thing to do was to cut it off... they called for the executioner's ax and as soon as the thief's arm was separated from his body, the statue released its grasp. The arm hangs in the church as a warning to those who dare steal from the church. No pictures were allowed inside, but the church was gorgeous!!! here's an internet pic

We had breakfast at Starbucks... bagels and carmel hot chocolate!! Phoebe and I thought it would be HILARIOUS to give the barista different names... I seriously just made up a random name... as did Phoebe, so as far as the Prague Starbucks is concerned we are Ableth and Wendlah

The lady who took our names and orders asked us if we were from Canada... haha. Through stifled laughter we replied that our mothers just hated us.
After a delightfully entertaining breakfast Ableth and Wendlah headed to Prague Castle!! It is high above the city so you get this amazing view!

We arrived at the Castle during the changing of the guards so there were lots of people there...

We then got out tickets and realized the cost for the audio guide was actually more expensive than the admission ticket so we didn't get it... however, the castle has NO signs about what ANYTHING is and therefore Phoebe and I were left to make stuff up about the castle.
Prague money

After getting into the Castle we got in line to see St Vitus Cathedral.

While in line we were surrounded by a group of high school age children and their chaperones on what appeared to be a field trip. While I was standing there minding my own business and chatting with Phoebe all of a sudden one of the chaperones, a older man who appeared to be in his 50s, started prying the map of the Cathedral out of my hands... um excuse me?? He took it, looked at it and then handed it back like it was nothing... not a WORD to me at all! Well that sent the girls around us into hysterical laughter at our expense - xenophobes! Phoebe and I started talking amongst ourselves... about them... and the girls would occasionally turn around, look at us and start giggling... alright, time for the trump card... "Wow Phoebe, how are you doing recovering from that swine flu you had??" one of the girls promptly turned to look at us with great concern on her face... "oh Miranda, I still have it... but I just hate wearing that face mask all the time, so I figured I'd go without today." I know it was lame... but Phoebe and I were entertained.
Once inside the Cathedral we marveled at the stained-glass windows by the artist Mucha (a favorite of Phoebe's)

Another wonderful discovery about St Vitus Cathedral is that it is the burial place of St Wenceslaus I... as in "Good King Wenceslaus" who so famously looked out on the feast of Stephens... I kept humming the Pranczar & Vyxxx'n rendition of the classic Christmas Carol (AKA Shawn & Kevin's version). Since we had no audio guide there was no way of finding the grave... so I took a picture of this one and just said that it was his grave (after some google research it is in fact NOT his grave)

Phoebe and I were so confused about finding his grave that we just started whispering "wenceslaus" over and over again in front of every tomb in hopes people would get on the band wagon and either believe us and think we'd found his grave or kindly point us in the right direction... instead people just stared at us. Wenceslaus therefore became a new code word for when people were staring at us... which of course happened A LOT!
After the Cathedral, we were in pursuit of seeing the crown jewels... this would not come to pass as there were still no signs and the map did not guide us... instead we walked into a gift shop where there was a large picture of the jewels... "Well there they are Phoebe." We stood in front of the picture marveling at their loveliness and then laughed at ourselves for being so lame.
We did however get to the torture chamber in Dalibor Tower.

There is a legend of a famous fiddler here who would was imprisoned at the castle... the myth goes that people would visit from far an wide to hear him play... the real story is that the man was stretched on the above machine until he "played like a fiddle" and confessed all he'd done and those who helped him. HAHA!
To finish off the castle we took pictures with the guards... it was just like Buckingham Palace where they couldn't move

Phoebe and I spent the rest of the day shopping for souvenirs! They have SUCH beautiful stuff there... it was hard to decide what I wanted!!
I had to get a picture of the shelf with the Absinth bottles... I didn't buy any, but they are everywhere and it made me think of Moulin Rouge

It started to rain and we ducked into a mall that was in another more modern part of town... it actually felt like we were in London though - they had all the London clothing stores and a Marks & Spencers grocery store with our favorite chocolate biscuits!! We also found a mongolian BBQ place where we had a chicken with noodles dinner.

We finished off the day early again cause there was little else to do... but it again is nice to have gotten another easy day... saves us from violently crashing when getting back to London.
Other sights of Prague to finish off...
this was above one of the streets... a life size statue of a man hanging from a pole... odd

awesome sewer covers

Farewell Prague! You were the most beautiful city we visited in my opinion!!

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