Monday, February 9, 2015

Czech This Out!

On the last weekend of January I set out on a 12-hour bus ride to Prague, Czech Republic. Czech it out! (sorry, had to get it out of the way)

you think she's sad?

My all-too-thrilled face at 7pm on the private bus. The first half of the trip was spent watching funny, dumb movies, and the latter spent in an uneasy doze. Did I mention I was deathly sick this weekend?

I just want not to watch dumb movies anymore

As you can tell, my happiness quickly diminished. Here is a forlorn update at a rest stop in maybe Austria?

Finally, finally, we arrived in Prague!

can't you tell?
First we checked into our super hip hotel, Fusion Hotel. It was right in the center of the city, oh and super hip.

our floor

our creepy sci-fi hallway

vítejte! (welcome!)
We had a quick breakfast at the hotel, our first taste of Czech cuisine,

that sausage though

and then it was off to a walking tour of the city. Our first stop was Wenceslas Square:

please take this time to sing the song quietly to yourself

hello good king wenceslas

If you didn't laugh at my opening joke, there's still time!

ha ha, hahaha, these are my people
Then we scoped out the Old Town Square, which was lively and historical and fun:

from the Astronomical Clock to Our Lady before Tyn
a fraction of Hogwarts

I couldn't stop watching it (laugh)
Our Lady before Tyn, in true gothic medieval form
Like I mentioned, the square was filled was a variety of street hooligans featuring:

giant bubble blowers!
backside of a real live human band
 Our tour brought us briefly to the St. Charles Bridge, of which we will see more later.

gothic medieval is KEWL

the Thames, the Arno, and now the Vltava
I see you, Prague Castle!
the queen and her castle

Then it was time for lunch at a quaint pub/brewery where we had to pay for the live music, which was an accordion player. Whatever you say, eastern Europe.

the foam was the only good part

I felt it was more or less necessary to try an authentic Czech beer, because Czech Republic is actually the #1 drinking country in the world. Touche, Czech.

In the Czech Republic there are two choices of beer: light and dark. Girls are traditionally supposed to have dark beer, because it is said to be, well, endowing. The only thing I got endowed with was a stomachache. Beer, it's been fun, but I think I'll leave you up north.

One of the traditional cuisines is goulash, which my Nonna has perfected. I ordered Goulash a la Two Cats, which was probably a bad sign from the start. Let me tell you, this was nothing like my Nonna's.

such presentation though
 It was warm and savory and bready, but with my stomach operating at half-capacity being sick and all, it got old real quick.

Speaking of being sick, we thought it was as good a time as any to check out the Museum of Torture!

how do you know she's a witch?

This lovely lass was being burned at the stake for being suspected as a witch. What was lovelier was the constant screaming recording, it felt like we were really there, which is what anyone would want.

This was the best part of the whole museum, it reads:

A satirical picture of an objective court.

I thought this was medieval, not modern?

definitely a pain in the butt

no thanks

This was an unpleasant widely used method, something about weaving victims' limbs through the spokes? Also that innocuous collar-stick hanging out over there.

 Then there was this lovely scene from the Princess Bride,

Humperdinck, humperdinck!
they did their research

And finally, a scene out of one of my nightmares. Thank you for your invaluable time, Prague Museum of Torture.

To lighten the mood, we climbed the Astronomical Clock Tower!


Okay you caught me, we actually took this sweet elevator, Hunger Games style, to the top.

am I back in Italy?
addressing my loyal subjects below

my castle off in the distance

straight out of Harry Potter
my town!

The first day ended with a dinner full of goulash and heavily carbed foods. The night was a blur because I think I was actually dying from whatever cursed virus I contracted.

The next day began with a friendly dusting of snow!

it was there, I swear
We had another guided walk to a couple destinations in the morning, the first of which was Saint Charles Bridge.

snow snow snow
the cold never both--

gold and black against a grey snowy sky

The majority of the beauty of Prague can be attributed to the gothic medieval style of all the ancient buildings, but what stands out to me is the color scheme of the architecture and city. I love the contrast of the grunge and gold, which can be seen along this bridge.

dark and beautiful

closer, my castle

oh yeah, there were other people there too
We then got see the famous John Lennon wall!

The wall is where people have been painting comments and pictures since the 80s. However, some harebrained art students in November on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution painted the entire wall white and wrote WALL IS OVER. Goodbye, history. Don't worry, it lives on in mutilated spirit.

slowly coming back to life

the wall is not over

long live the wall!

I did laugh at this piece of paper with the words "WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION" written on it. Nice try, Pink Floyd.

us & john
I am the wall

We hiked our way to Prague Castle, but not before stopping to devour the classic Czech/Slovakian dessert called trdelnik, referred to by us as turtleneck. It's a warm delicious sweet bread with sugar and oftentimes internally spread with nutella. Mmm.

I'd wear that on my neck any day
more of my city

c'mere boy

Note the cute little guards in their doghouses.

 Turns out Prague Castle is actually more of an estate with old palaces and churches and buildings. What you think of when you picture Prague Castle is actually St. Vitus Cathedral.

Catholics do it best -- motto of European architecture
towering ceilings
stained glass windows are a must in any cool church

statues of golds
the altar from afar

Of course, no church would be complete with my main, Saint Michael,

you show 'em
 Gold, gold, gold, with a side of gold.

I'm not even sure what this is but it kinda looks like an extravagant cradle. I think it is probably the grave of someone or something holy.

prob where Jesus should have been born

This chapel was super cool as well, whatever it might have been:

at least I think this is a chapel
St. Vitus growing from the trees
so grunge, so beautiful
dark with gold, gold with dark
Right next to the cathedral is the Basilica of Saint George, another one of my personal favorites.

strawberry facade
"I think you forgot someth--" artist: "NO IT'S COOL"

The strangest "cross" I have ever seen, so naturally I loved it.

there is a box here

 Here you can see the bones of Prince Vratislav I, who apparently was the father of Wenceslas!

dum sun

well hey there

 We wandered around a bit, coming across the banks of the river and also some friends from London! At least here, the Queen won't come out brandishing her scepter or whatever she might brandish for touching Precious.

my frandz!
Speaking of Franz, the famous or otherwise Franz Kafka is from Prague, but unfortunately we didn't have enough time (or money) to visit his museum, although we did get to see some lovely rotating statues.

Wandering around aimlessly was just as fun as going on guided tours. We made more friends!

I know where my luck is

pretty kitty won't you come out to play

fun trams on ziplines (or something)
see you tonight

We caught a sneak peek of the club we were going to later that night!

The biggest letdown of the weekend was that we didn't get to see the Old Jewish Cemetery because it is closed on Saturdays for sabbath. This tiny cemetery is packed with over 10,000 hedge stones for solely Jews. What's sickening is that the graves go as many as 12 people deep, bringing the count to over 100,000 bodies, most of them unmarked and forgotten.

our view from the gate

Before we continue, I feel it is only necessary to relive my traumatic adventure to church with you. Since nobody wanted to go with me, I was on my own in a foreign country in a foreign city (obviously) and a huge language barrier. What better time to blindly follow a list of directions at 6 at night?

Never fear, I made it safely to the church with about five minutes to spare. Then the real trouble began. In Europe, many of the churches are adorned with giant iron or wooden or whatever doors, which you're never really sure are actual doors that open or...

not sketchy in the slightest

Here I was on the side of the church. Not pictured: giant iron "doors". I wasn't even sure if I was allowed to touch them, so after making sure the coast was clear, I awkwardly pushed these looming fakes. Either they were locked, or I'm a total idiot.

I considered asking a man smoking down this pictured alley, but then I reevaluated my life.

I frantically walked halfway up the street to a cafe before I decided I could do it myself. I had made it this far. WE WILL GET TO MASS!

Luckily, I spied a lit doorway at the end of this creepy alley, which led to.....

is this a trap

...a pitch black series of corridors, clearly the church cast in utter darkness but for another meager light at the end of the hallway. With fire in my heart (or panic), I sped through the murky waters.

I tried every door, and time and time again they led to empty, dark rooms.

But then...

the light at the end of the tunnel


Turns out Mass was in the back chapel, an itty bitty room with no more than ten people that clearly didn't know the responses. That's okay, because it was in English! Yay!

Anyway, I got a pretty view of the city at night on the long way home.

St. Charles across the Vltava
it's practically Disney World!


As a reward for getting to Mass, we enjoyed a night out on the town. Kidding about the reward, although I was pretty proud, not to mention happy to be alive.

Our hotel had a cool bar called 360, named as such because the bar slowly rotates!

I think I'm going to be sick
Then it was off to the coolest place in town, an ice bar! Get it? Sorry.

We were only permitted to stay 25 minutes, because, well, we'd probably freeze to death otherwise. They gave us coats and gloves which was nice, but I would have preferred a beach bar or somewhere I could feel my fingers.

slightly chilled

oh hey there MJ


I was actually a frozen statue too
The pub is attached to the largest club in Central Europe, consisting of five stories, each with its own music theme (oldies, R&B, etc.)

blurry for no good reason
I didn't take any more pictures, but it was very, very cool for being a club. I liked the oldies floor the best, because it had a calming vibe and only a bar. We met some surprisingly kind and interesting guys from the UK, there for a bachelor party, so I felt right at home. ("You know my sister? Natalie? She lives there!") <-- didn't actually happen

The next morning, we packed our bags and headed back onto the bus for another 12 hours. This time, however, we got to enjoy the aesthetics of our journey, which took us right through the Alps!

hello Germany!

ft. my arm sleeve b/c I am the world's most inadequate photographer

I'd climb that

how's the weather up there?

rest stop in Austria? Germany?
casually skiing in the Alps
can I come too?
 I've never been happier to come back to touristy, packed, polluted, warm, wonderful Florence.