Thursday, April 5, 2012

Czeching In to Praha

          I left Germany Wednesday night and took a veryy long overnight train- City Night Line 495!- to the Golden City of Prague. There was a small ordeal with getting my train reservation since I had a Eurail pass...basically Sarah and her dad saved my butt from not having a train to Prague at all. I am extremely grateful to them for their help, and eventually I found myself safely on CNL 495. I had the second cheapest sleeping option with six bunks in one little cabin. And it was extremely little, there was barely enough room for one person to stand in the space between the bunks! See what it basically looked like here- but that picture is actually nicer than my train was. You couldn't sit up in bed either, so the whole time you're forced to either lay on your back, lay on your stomach, lay on your side, dangle one leg into the space between bunks, or pace in the aisle outside the cabin. I choose mostly options 2 and 5 since I really wanted to see the countryside pass by (since I'd never seen Eastern Germany) and a giant Chinese man and his mail order bride had pretty much laid claim to option 4. Well I made it through the hot, sweaty, suffocating, clausterphobic night without too much discomfort and arrived in Prague just before 11 am. I was thankfully able to leave my backpack at my host's work place in the city so I could roam burden free. And roam I did! I walked almost the entire city, my first day I did the East bank of the Vltava which includes the two quarters Staré Město (old town) and Nové Město (new town). Staré Město is where a lot of touristy things are such as the Powder Tower, one end of Karlovy Most (Charles Bridge), the Astronomical Clock and all the other delights of Old Town Sqaure, and Josefov the old Jewish district. Nové Město has a cool mall...haha it's not very touristy but Wenceslas Square and the long, broad boulevard that leads up to it is nice. (I have pictures of everything that will be on Facebook!) 
The next day I did the West bank with Mala Strana (the lesser quarter) and Hradčany (loosely "Castle town"). I saw a lot of great sites here like Prague Castle, Strahov Monastery, "embassy row", St Nicholas Cathedral, and Karlovy Most. 
I think I did much too much to talk about it all but it was a good time for sure and exhausting. 

I walked so much. Honestly, I walked everywhere and traversed more ground than I thought possible but it was a wonderful experience just exploring on my own! 
  • There was a constant cold wind and on and off raining...I saw the sun once
  • I have zero pictures of myself in Prague since I was alone and had no one to take pictures of me!
  • It was admitedly a little lonely, especially while eating
  • KGB Museum! 
    • For the price of approximately $10 I got a personal tour of the one room "museum" from the die-hard Soviet owner. The highlight of the museum was undoubtedly the collection of KGB photos in the Czech Republic taped to a sheet hanging on the wall. $10 well spent and I definitely recomend it for the benefit of meeting the owner alone.What a character!  ;)
  • Prague Castle
    • I didn't get around to it the last time I was in Prague, but I think despite the rain and the arduous trek up the MOUNTAIN it sits atop that it was worth it. The castle itself is stunning and really quite imposing and the area around it is facsinating, filled with "palaces" that were once the residences of courtisans and aristocrats. 
  • Speaking Czech
    • I really love the language and it was great to have the opportunity again to practice with native speakers
  • Mala Strana
    • I think my favorite quarter in Prague, I got to really explore it on this trip. It actually reminds me a little of San Francisco. Kind of edgy, lots of university-type hang out spots, and the river is visible from lots of hilltops.
So basically, Prague was wonderful! I think for a solo trip I had just the right amount of time there, and as always the food was delicious- I actually tried sauerkraut and didn't absolutely hate it.

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