Monday, February 16, 2015

Our Czech Outing

Prague is cheap.

That’s what everyone said. Being connoisseurs of good deals, we opted to see for ourselves if it was true. First off, getting there was cheap. 30€ for a 5 hour bus ride for two from Munich to Prague was pretty nice. After a bit of a delay due to a snowstorm that oh-so-thoughtfully waited until we were finished snowboarding to begin, we arrived in the capital of Bohemia.  

The first thing we noticed about Prague was that they don’t use €. Instead, they use the Czech Republic Koruna (let me google that for you: 1 USD ≈ 24 CZK). Alana & I are accustomed to the Danish kroner (1 USD ≈ 6 DKK). We were surprised to see that some things in Czech (beer) had the same numbers next to them as in Denmark; thus Denmark is sometimes 4X to 5X more expensive than Prague. Nogle gange er Danmark for dyrt!

After a minor fiasco buying tickets for the metro (thanks German fellow travelers that helped us out!), we made it to the SE corner of the city where our hotel awaited. The first thing we noticed coming out metro station was a giant tower lit up in blue and red with giant babies crawling all over it. Apparently the babies were part of a temporary art installation, but public outcry made them permanent.

the good king duke like the babies do?
don't ask us to pronounce this

Aside from the giant baby rocket tower, Prague really does have that old European city feel. On our second day we headed straight to Wenceslas Square in the heart of downtown Prague. Yep, it's the same good guy that "looked out, on the Feast of Stephen", although he was never a king (the song was written by an British guy in 1853). The square was a great place to get rolled bread with cinnamon/sugar treats, locally known as Tredelni'k (luckily pointing is a universal gesture). Afterwards, we perused some local (much cheaper than Denmark) shops in search of sweaters. Sidenote: I (David) have been fairly obsessed with sweaters during the Danish winter, and I'm glad to say, by the end of the trip, I procured a few more sewn-together bits of sheep hair.

we only witnessed a few train wrecks
 We then sought out the Prague Astronomical Clock but were more excited to find gluhwein and polska. After an afternoon of relaxing / exploring / shopping / staying inside to keep out of the cold, it was time for dinner. Naturally we went to the place that uses model trains as a beverage delivery system. Our inner 7-year-olds were super excited (the place had plenty of actual 7-year-olds too). Our 2nd evening ended with a stroll by the river with views of the castle that we would conquer the next day (spoiler: conquering castles used to be much harder).
hordes of foreigners invade the castle
(15th century kings are rolling in their graves)

trespasser caught in the act
Our 3rd day in Prague was new years eve. After a late start, we trekked to the castle at the top of the hill and got more delicious trdelni'k. The castle is about as picturesque as you could imagine. Wandering the rooms, its always amazing to think just how old some structures are. We wandered around all the exhibits - kings quarters, dance halls, even a window that people were pushed out of during a revolution (good ol' middle ages). The highlight of our visit was the church, which we weren't technically allowed into - we paid for a tour but it was closed for the evening due to a ticketed new years eve service. That's the first time we've ever had to sneak into a church :). After that we headed out for the evening.

Czechs are very fond of exploding small parts of their country. The first explosions started around dusk and continued throughout the night. The residents aren't very particular about where fireworks go off either - anywhere more than 1 meter from another human is fair game. I suppose this is why American cities sponsor their own fireworks - to dissuade the homebrewed fireworks shows that were happening all over the city (though most Americans just watch fireworks on TV anyway).

oh hey.

During our wandering, we found another peculiar instance of public art, from the same artist responsible for the giant babies. Pretty strange to look up and see a man hanging by one arm, but that's just how Czechs roll (hang?).

safety not guaranteed
Wenceslas approves
We planned our excursion to end at the Charles Bridge at the stroke of midnight. As we approached, the crowd grew dense. Somewhere around midnight ±1 minute, we had just stepped on the bridge when the crowd decided to change direction, pushing us out to a square with a big statue of our old buddy St. Wenceslas. Figuring this was as good a spot as any to celebrate, we settled in to enjoy the (abundant) fireworks. A 3 x 3 meter hole in the crowd formed as everyone threw their lit fireworks in there. Exhausted and thankfully not exploded, we headed to our hotel to prepare for our 8am train ride home.

just the right amount of exploded

Looking back, it's hard to believe how much happened in 2014: finishing PhDs / getting jobs / moving across the world / living where we moved / making friends / missing everyone back home. Here's to an even better 2015 - I hope we get to see your smiling faces soon :)

1 comment:

  1. An eventful year, indeed! Love reading your guys' adventures. Rock on!!!