Hello again! I write to you now from a hostel in Budapest. There’s a whole story about our travels between Prague and Budapest, but I think it deserves an entry on its own, so you’ll get that in due time. Prague was really amazing. I think Yitka and I both agreed that it was one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever been to, all of the architecture is just stunning. It felt like every time we turned around we would find ourselves looking at another amazing building. We’ve been doing so much every day that I feel as though the only way I can manage to recount everything that we’ve done is to give a blow by blow account of each day of our travels as I did in my Berlin update, so here goes.
We arrived in Prague at about 4pm on Sunday and made our way to our hostel which was pretty centrally located within the city. The hostel was extremely nice. We were in a comfortable room and we had access to free wireless from the hostel. Our roommates on our second and third nights were all from the states and one of them went to SUNY New Paltz, so we even managed to find some common acquaintances through the wonderful world of facebook. After settling down we decided to go explore the city for a little while and grab some dinner. We went over to Wenceslas Square, which isn’t actually a square at all so much as a big avenue that spreads out in front of the National Museum at the top of the hill. We found a traditional Czech restaurant and treated ourselves to a delicious dinner. After eating since we were both exhausted we went back to the hostel in order to take advantage of the free wireless (which is how you were all delivered with my Berlin update and those wonderful pictures on facebook).
We spent our second day in Prague wandering around the city seeing various sites and of course, numerous beautiful buildings. We made sure to take advantage of our hostels free breakfast every morning of our trip and so after we had enjoyed our hearty corn flakes we were ready to explore for hours. Luckily the day before we had stumbled across some information that said the National Museum was free on the first Monday of every month which happened to be our second day in Prague. Always looking for a bargain, Yitka and I decided to make the museum our first stop of the day. I think the best part of the museum was probably the building itself. It was a massive structure with tons of statues and engravings all over it, we took lots of pictures (which I’ll upload next time I have wireless access on my lap top). We went to two exhibits in the museum, although I’m sure there were many more because it was a humungous museum. The first exhibit we saw was all about aerial archeology. It was about how archeologists use aerial photography in order to discover where ancient civilizations once were. The photos show the differences in landscapes that have formed because of different human uses of the land over the years. There was one picture where you could see the remains of a shipwreck that occurred over a hundred years before the picture was taken, it was really cool.
The other exhibit that we went to in the museum was called “The Human Footprint” and it was literally about the footprint that human beings have left on the earth (and the moon for that matter). The exhibit basically consisted of a bunch of different artifacts that all had something to do with human existence on earth. The most prominent artifacts were various pairs of shoes! There were all different kinds of shoes from all over the world that were prominently displayed… It was a pretty strange exhibit, I must say.
After leaving the museum we continued to wander around the city, we made our way through the Jewish Quarter and then over the river and up to the Prague Castle. The castle was beautiful and it was up on a hill so we were given a brilliant view of the entire city of Prague.
On our third and final day in Prague we made sure to get an early start on our adventures and were out of our hostel by 10am that morning. Our first stop of the day was the Old Town Square where Prague’s famed Astronomical Clock is located. This clock tells not only the time, but it can also tell you the zodiac and perhaps something about the movement of the planets (?) I’m not entirely sure to tell you the truth. Every hour when the clock strikes the hour all of these figures make an appearance from within the clock. A big crowd gathers every hour and so we made sure to be there when the clock struck 11am. It was pretty exciting I guess… I took a video of it, but it wasn’t really that amazing, but I’m glad we saw it.
After we watched the dance of the clock we walked over to the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Pinkas Synagogue where we forked over the 200 Crowns (about 10 dollars) to go into both places. The Pinkas Synagogue is a really old Jewish Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter where the names of many of the Prague Jews that died in the Holocaust have been recorded on the walls. There are a total of 80,000 names written on the walls. There are literally 4 large rooms where every wall is entirely covered in the names of victims as well as their dates of birth and death. Walking through the synagogue was an extremely moving experience. I found myself overcome with sadness as I calculated the ages of the victims. As I scanned the names I kept seeing my own name as well as the names Anna and Adolf and I felt a true connection to all the victims. When we left the synagogue, we went into the Old Jewish Cemetery that is right next door. This cemetery has been around since the mid 1400’s and there are so many headstones crammed into the tiny plot of land, it is obvious that many of the graves must be right on top of one another.
The rest of our wanderings that day led us to the Charles Bridge and up a funicular to the top of a mountain on the edge of the city. There’s not really much to say about these places, so I’ll let the pictures do all the talking when I get a chance to upload them in a few days.
Our last stop of the day was the Kafka Museum. I’ve never read any Kafka, but this museum really intrigued me and now I definitely want to read a bit of his work. I really liked the museum, especially because it was really focused on Kafkas’ relationship with the city of Prague. So it was really interesting to read about it and see all the old pictures of the city.
Before heading back to our hostel for our last night in Prague we went to this amazing vegetarian restaurant that we had read about on our tourist map. And now here’s the best part, we ran into ANOTHER Obie at this restaurant! We were sitting there waiting for our food and all of a sudden this girl walked in and we both stopped our ramblings (which of course were about Oberlin) to stare at her befuddled and amazed that we were running into another Obie on this short trip!
Anyway, so that’s the story of Prague. More to come about the ride to Budapest and our experiences in Hungary in my next post. Also, I’ll update pictures soon as well.