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Prague August 17, 2010

Posted by randrews3 in Travel Log.
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For our last big weekend trip of the summer, we decided to go to Prague, the “city of a thousand spires,” or something to that effect. The architecture is beautiful–it ranges from cubist to gothic to modern–and the city is full of fun stuff to do.

Our train ride was pretty nice; we had one of the best sleeper car experiences (probably because it was a German train instead of French). We arrived in the morning on Saturday to drizzly weather and a bleak street, but we soon hopped a tram and headed to “breakfast” at a nice restaurant. It was more of a sit-down dinner type setting, and the place seemed great for swing dancing–pretty hard wood floors and an old mic standing on the raised platform at the front.

While waiting for the tram, we admired this awesome building.

We took a nap at the hostel and then headed out. We ate dinner at the (original) Budweiser beer hall (YOU’VE SAID IT ALL!!) and then went to a jazz lounge where we listened to a great quartet. The singer and the pianist were both from New York, and the bassist and drummer were Czech. I thoroughly enjoyed their sound. Afterwards, we met up with some other Techies and walked all over town.

On Sunday we ate breakfast and headed into town for a free walking tour of the city that went through the old and new sides and the Jewish section. We took lots of pictures and met some people who live in Atlanta (weird!) and some engineers.

After we hit up some gift shops we ate dinner at a traditional Czech restaurant. We walked across town to this bowling place we thought would be open, only to discover it was dark and deserted. But after a minute or two of fiddling with the Blackberry, we found a tiny local bowling alley.

It was eerily quiet as we descended into the little basement, and at first the lady who owned the place looked at us loud Americans like we were crazy, but we finally convinced her we were there to bowl. On a side note, our tour guide pointed out that although Prague has some of the most churches per square mile in Europe, it is the most atheist city per capita. Yet still, apparently not many locals go out bowling on a Sunday night. 🙂 Anyway, the lanes lit up and the music came on and we basically had our own private (and cheap, finally, thanks to the relative strength of the USD) bowling party. It was a ton of fun.

Statue of a girl freeing a bird in front of a church near our hostel

We woke up the next morning and headed out to see the side of town across the river. We walked over the Charles Bridge which is lined on both sides with (convincing replicas) of old statues and various street performers (including a marionette guy). We kept seeing statues of a famous Czech martyr with 5 stars arranged in a halo around his head everywhere we went–it’s like finding Waldo but bigger.

We found the Lennon Wall, a small stretch of graffiti hidden back among some cobbled streets that is dedicated to the life and work of John Lennon. It started as a protest wall against communism and coined the term “Lennonism” which is cool because it’s the opposite of “Leninism.” Next to the wall is a little bridge with tons of master locks and combination locks and bike locks–any lock you could imagine–that newlyweds have left on the railings. 🙂

Locks on a bridge near the Lennon Wall

The Prague “castle” wasn’t really a castle, just a big collection of buildings including the one where the President lives or hangs out when he’s in town. We climbed up a big set of steps (nearly killed me) to the top. There was a great view of the city–miles and miles of spires and towers and all colors of rooftops.

We randomly met up with the same Techies there and then saw the changing of the guard before we walked through the castle area. On the way back down we went through a vineyard and then stopped at a place off the street for dinner before getting a delicious cinnamon-roll-like street vendor treat and booking it to the train station.

Prague was a really wonderful trip–it felt like we were there for a week instead of just 3 days because of all the stuff we managed to cram in. Good last big trip. 🙂

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