Day 22: Praha

Last night I fell asleep early, maybe around 9pm. I think its a sign I’m getting worn out. Greece comes soon though with its nice beaches and relaxed pace I only have around a week to go at my current pace. Its hard to believe almost that here I am in Prague, it really wasn’t all that long ago it was behind the Iron Curtain.

The weather today was stunning. I woke up around 6 with the sun, and enjoyed breakfast before catching the tram to the version of a mall here in Czech Republic. Unlike France, Spain or the US there aren’t any self service coin operated laundry places, like how it is in Portugal, you need to leave your laundry and have someone wash it for you. Of course this isn’t cheap, even with the favorable exchange rate it cost me $10. All in all today I would spend just under my daily allowable budget at around $90, but 10 of that went into the cost of laundry..

After leaving my laundry I went back to the hotel, dropped off my bag, grabbed my camera and set off to explore Prague. The first stop was the National Museum. The museum is all about natural sciences, which is a departure from the sort of museums of fine art I have been visiting. The museum had displays on prehistoric humans, zoology, geology, and most interesting a section following the societies to inhabit the Czech Republic. It really puts into context how impressive some other societies were at the time. The Slavic lands were fairly undeveloped by the time Romans rolled through. The Germanic and Celtic tribes were also fairly underdeveloped with bronze age weapons before the Romans arrived. The Romans themselves had largely socially and militarily gotten their start from the Greeks who had successful society 2000 years before this. All of this history here in Europe has really made me interested in reading some books when I get back, I’d like to learn about what followed with many societies like the Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines, and the Chinese. I also found it sort of entertaining to look at their collection of shells in their zoology section, our collection from our trip has many examples better than theirs, and is almost as comprehensive. How cool is that!

After leaving the museum I walked down the main street of Prague that leads down the hill from the museum where I had lunch at an over priced restaurant advertising traditional Czech food. I wanted to try a good example of Czech food before leaving tomorrow. I chose a dish of boiled pork with white sweet cabbage and potato dumplings. The pork was really good, but I found the cabbage too sweet, and the dumplings were ok. The local beer is a pilsner like is common back home, I wasn’t impressed.

The city itself is stunning though, it has all that old world charm I had hoped for in Berlin and Munich but because of WWII there was none of that left. Prague however also thanks to Soviet lack of investment has most of its old buildings, while thanks to the influx of money, the city itself is clean and bustling, especially in the city center. It feels like everywhere you look there are these beautiful old buildings with gold trim. I walked around to all of the major attractions in the main part of town which included the Tyn Church and Astrological Clock which were both pretty impressive sights. I then went down to cross the Charles Bridge which is a very beautiful Gothic pedestrian bridge. This part is particularly touristy, though the city as a whole is a major tourist trap.

It seems as though Prague has really latched onto Capitalism, and the central part of the city almost feels like Mexico how people are trying to get you’re money. I saw sodas selling for $4, “Tourist Information” that weren’t from the city, a bunch of currency exchange places, and anything else you can think of.

I made my way up to the Prague Castle, which apparently is the largest castle in the world thanks to its large walls and inclusion of the castle itself as well as 2 churches, one of which a wonderful example of Gothic architecture with a bunch of gold trim. Overall the castle itself within the walls wasn’t as interesting as the one in Munich, but at least it wasn’t a complete rebuild but was the original building in all its glory. The view from the castle was also pretty nice, looking out over the city center. The price of admission though seemed a bit too high for what it was.

I then made my way back to my hotel this time walking along the left bank of the Elbe. Everything just seemed to peaceful. I passed by the National Theater on my way to the train, which is another spectacular building.

I then went back to the mall and picked up my clothes and decided it was time for a nap, even though I slept so long last night.

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