CZECH REPUBLIC

Self Exploration…

As we were slowly approaching our last few days in Prague, it became rather obvious that all our needs had yet to be met.  Of course we could have signed up for another tour or asked the concierge what we should do but it was high time for a little exploration on our own.  After all, what could go wrong when we were armed with a map and nothing else.  We figured we would start by heading to the Prague Castle before making our way to the John Lennon Wall and then meandering in the park to see the baby statues before heading into the Jewish Quarter as I was dying to see the cemetery and then hunting down the Ginger and Fred building in the daylight for a photo or two, before possibly finding our way to the TV tower and then backtracking to the Charles Bridge to get some beautiful pictures at dusk.  Phew, just because we lacked a few researching skills on this trip didn’t mean we weren’t going to try to go out with a bang!

The guard who wouldn't crack a smile despite all my antics...

The guard who wouldn’t crack a smile despite all my antics…

So after a quick breakfast, we were off on our mission to go find the Prague Castle.  Again, the one thing that we didn’t factor into this was the time spent getting lost and how easy it was going to be to get cold and tired because of it.  Truth be told, I was ready to throw in the towel at the Prague Castle but the NZ Welshie convinced me that a little tea (damn the Welsh!) and another apple strudel was just what I needed in my life.  So we ended up wasting an hour getting warmed up again so I could face the cold, cold wind that was blowing between all the buildings at the Prague Castle as we quickly moved between each one of them.  Truth be told, I don’t do well with the cold being Canadian and all so I lost interest rather quickly as the castle and its grounds were about as cold as they were crowded.

The view from Prague Castle

The view from Prague Castle

After our little tiki tour, we made the executive decision that we had seen enough and started moving in the direction of the John Lennon Wall.  Again, it started to feel like frostbite was about to set in but we tried to remain strong and soldier on.  Just as I was about to give in, we stumbled upon the wall and it turned out to be a lot smaller than what I had imagined in my head.  Truth be told, I pretended to take random photos close to a tour group on Segways so a little spying could get us the goods the guide was dealing about the wall itself.  After they set off, we knew it was high time we did so ourselves and possibly make a quick move to the closest coffee shop to warm up just a little once again.

John Lennon Wall

John Lennon Wall

Another random photo of the John Lennon Wall

Another random photo of the John Lennon Wall

As we were beyond cold at this point, we decided that we should just head back onto the Charles Bridge instead of trying something different and getting lost.  This was also the same time that we had decided that nobody really needed to see giant baby statues in a park so that and the TV tower were quickly cut out of our plans for the day.  Let’s face it, the only thing I could think of at that moment was what I needed to do to find a warm place to chill out in.  Oh and a coffee shop that served soy milk as the NZ Welshie was about to freak on someone otherwise.  So that was that, and it was off to find another place for a wee snack and a coffee to allow us to thaw out slightly so we could make our way to the Jewish Quarter.

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My favourite image from Prague

 

It was while we were at the last of our coffee shops that we decided that even though the Jewish Quarter was within walking distance, we were going to take advantage our of transit day pass and use it to be outside as little as possible.  It was while we were in the station that I started wondering if the Jewish Quarter was really necessary but the NZ Welshie with all her might got me to keep on moving.  And move we did, all the way to where the Jewish cemetery was located only to find out that it was closing within 30 minutes.  We tried to negotiate a deal as we couldn’t see all of it but the lady at the ticket counter wouldn’t budge.  After a few minutes, we realized that it didn’t make sense to rush through it so we gave up.  Not only that, but I finally got the NZ Welshie to give up on the idea of the other sites we wanted to hit and call it a day.

Love this metro station

Love this metro station

And before I knew it, that was that.  Evening was quickly approaching and we were heading back to the hotel to get nice and toasty warm before setting out for the evening once again.  Looking back, despite all the bitching and moaning from yours truly this was probably my favourite day in Prague.  It was just me and the NZ Welshie at our best (and worst) exploring Prague in the same haphazard way we had explored New Zealand together.  The elements, weather, and scenery were all very different but the laughter and good times were the same.  In my opinion, its friends like this that make travelling just that much more enjoyable.

Categories: CZECH REPUBLIC, czech republic: prague | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Jazzy With It!

After a long and hard day of being a tourist, it was time to go back to the hotel and get all dolled up for the three sense project.  Yes, you heard me…three sense project: listen, taste, look (I know…CRINGE)!  Turns out that’s the super cheesy slogan for the Jazz Boat Cruise but it was one of those things that came highly recommended so before I knew it, we were all dressed up in our “I’m about to freeze my tits off” get-ups and waiting to board that damn boat.  The NZ Welshie and I decided that our biggest fear about this whole evening was being trapped for hours on a floating nursing home while eating mediocre food but sometimes the gamble pays off, right?  Anyway, as soon as we found our table, our hearts sank as we boarded the boat only to be seated at the table with what looked like the old grumpy couple.

Charles Bridge All Lit Up

Charles Bridge All Lit Up

Don’t feel sorry for us though because we had no time to dwell on our forced dinner companions since the boat set sail immediately and before we could even think about it, the band was on stage playing their little hearts out.  To our amazement, the band was really good and it no longer seemed to matter who we were sitting with as jazz filled the night air.  As for the view of the city from the water – stunning doesn’t even begin to describe what we saw.  Unfortunately, photos don’t do it justice either and it’s one of those things that really have to be experience in my opinion.  The best way I can describe it is Prague is absolutely breathtaking from this angle.  Added to that was a flawless dinner service.  Not only was the service amazing but even more surprising was how good the meal itself was.  I had decided to go with the vegetarian option while the NZ Welshie went with the salmon and both of us were equally happy with our meals that night.  Turned out the fear of mediocre food was just foolish as all three courses were simply delightful.  Despite our reservations, we were glad that we followed through as this was one of those gambles that paid off big time.  All in all, the three sense project was hands down one of our favourite experiences in Prague.

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Girl Power Let Down…

Maybe my feeling for Prague have a lot to do with expectations and little to do with the city itself.  The reason why I say this is because people would often tell me that Prague was going to blow me away based on how much I loved Berlin.  Again, I can’t stress enough that I didn’t dislike Prague and found it to be worth the visit but I was nowhere near the realm of being blown away by it.  Regardless, the comparison between Berlin and Prague will continue as I discovered there was an Alternative Prague Tour and due to my nonstop ranting about how fantastic the tour was in Berlin, we decided that this was the walking tour for us.  Looking back, it’s ridiculous how we made such a commitment to something we knew nothing about.  All I knew was that we were supposed to meet a person holding a black umbrella by the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square.  Thankfully, it was a sunny day so I wasn’t left approaching randoms asking if they were waiting for me as that might have gotten me involved in another type of business that Prague is known for…

One of the few things we actually saw on the tour

One of the few things we actually saw on the tour

Anyway, like I said, we lucked out and found the person we were looking for in a very crowded area without any problems.  Before long, we came to realize that we were part of a small group of 3 girls being taken around by the only female writer in Prague.  Strangely enough – the phrase Girl Power kept being repeated like I had somehow been transported back to the 90s and was part of some odd Spice Girls entourage.  That weirdness aside, we quickly started moving away from the crowds as the guide gave us a history lesson about communism and the Velvet Revolution.  Yes, it was a lot to take in as we moved further and further out of the tourist core but I felt as though she was setting the foundation for the amazing things we were about to see.  But we kept walking and stopping to sit and talk some more while looking at photos she had brought with her.  It continued on this way until the Brazilian girl made the executive decision to bail on the tour and save her afternoon.

And here is mural 2 of 2 from the tour

And here is mural 2 of 2 from the tour

Maybe it was because we felt bad for the guide but the NZ Welshie and I decided to stuck it out.  At this point, I distinctively remember her saying that we were just on the verge of all there was to see.  By this I just assumed that we were going to make our way to some of the sculptures done by David Cerny, possibly to the John Lennon Wall, and then to see some other works by artists that are well-known in Prague but not the rest of the world to tie a nice little bow around the history lesson we had gotten.  But we kept walking and talking and still there was nothing to look at.  She pointed to closed galleries and told us that they would be interesting to check out if we had the time to come back.  She pointed out the park where you could find the baby statues by David Cerny and said that it might be worth it for us to come back and check it out.  We kept walking and talking and nothing else besides walking and talking.  The subject matter was interesting and I was thankful that we got the backdrop of the impact communism had on Prague but what I was a little stunned by was the lack of anything visual to support all the talking that was going on.  I was hoping that since we opted for a street art tour, we were actually going to see art on the streets but this wasn’t the case.

The most interesting bit from the tour and I was too jaded to appreciate it! SAD...

The most interesting bit from the tour and I was too jaded to appreciate it! SAD…

With one look at the NZ Welshie, I knew she felt the same exact way as I did so it was time to take matters into our own hands and end this goddamn tour!  We politely mentioned that we needed to be back for an event in the evening but this didn’t deter our little busy girl power bee.  She said not to worry and she’d take us back to the hotel so time wasn’t going to be an issue and decided to get us tea to go as this would be yet another time saver.  So there was more walking and talking as she pointed out yet another closed gallery or an area that has things that are worth checking out.  Great…so now we were stuck and wishing we had taken the Brazilians lead about 2 hours ago.  We continued to dance around the fact that we were ready to throw in the glove and she kept hanging onto us like a dog on a bone.  It continued on this way until we were practically at the front door of our hotel.  At this stage we were cold, grumpy, and couldn’t wait to ditch the girl who was super nice but gave a tour that just missed the mark.  It’s a shame that something that started off with such potential wound up  being such a let down but I guess that the way life goes sometimes.

Categories: CZECH REPUBLIC, czech republic: prague | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

East For Easter

A long time ago, I said I would tell the truth and nothing but the whole truth.  So I would like to say that my decision to go to Prague was well thought out and researched since I was looking for a different spin on Easter than the usual chocolate bunnies and hidden eggs commercialism.  But the real story of why I found myself in Prague over Easter is due to a travel Russian roulette of sorts.  The NZ Welshie and I chose our top 3 destinations/travel timing and by pure fluke it turned out to be Prague over Easter.  To add insult to injury, with the chaos that is my work life, my apartment turned B&B, and a few weekend getaways here and there, left me with no time to research or plan much of anything.  When push came to shove there was nothing to do other than buckle up and enjoy whatever was to come my way!

Beautifully painted eggs from one of the Easter Market stalls

Beautifully painted eggs from one of the Easter Market stalls

By the time I had made sure that my seat back and tray tables were in their upright and locked positions – the worries of  Good Friday conference calls and teaching an old dog new tricks had all vanished into thin air.  There were no other plans in place other than finding the NZ Welshie somewhere in Terminal 1 to begin our Easter weekend adventure.  Hopefully this one steered away from “bitches be crazy” drama we faced the last time we spent Easter together.  From the moment we met, we realized that both of us had been under the gun with everyday life and so no plan was going to have to be the best plan.  As the taxi swerved on that ever so windy road, we decided that when it comes to Prague it was probably a good idea to cover the basics like Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, Prague Castle, and the Astronomical Clock.  To add to this we decided to sprinkle a little jazz on the water, some street art eye candy, and a few munchies from the markets on route to a whole lot of Czech cuisine was the way to go.

Popular snack from the Easter Markets

Popular snack from the Easter Markets

The Market in Old Town Square

The Market in Old Town Square

What we forgot to factor into our back seat planning was the weather, the crowds, and the time change!  Yes, there’s nothing you can do about crowds but why would the clocks spring forward when the flurries all around us were clearly signalling it was still winter is just beyond me.  Despite these few setbacks, the NZ Welshie and I managed to do enough on our hit list for me to know that I liked Prague.  I say like as I wasn’t blown away by Prague like everyone kept telling me I would be.  I found the city to be architectural beautiful with a lot to offer but there was just something missing for me.  Chemistry perhaps?  To this day, I’m still not sure exactly what it was but I haven’t completely ruled out that “second date” just yet!

The Astronomical Clocks in Old Town Square

The Astronomical Clocks in Old Town Square

Categories: CZECH REPUBLIC, czech republic: prague | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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