Our arrival in Prague on Friday was relatively uneventful, compared to some of our other travel woes. We took the tram from the airport to our hostel which is oddly named “Art Hole”, and tried to check in. We were then told that they had overbooked so they only had one bed available, so I was set up on a mattress on the floor. It was comically unfortunate seeing as the last time my friend and I traveled together we had the air bnb fiasco. The staff at the hostel, however were incredibly kind and apologetic. They gave us a hefty discount off our final bill, so it all worked out. We debated going to to bars and experiencing local culture, but instead we inhaled a $3 pizza and went to bed.
We woke up pretty early Saturday and had breakfast at our hostel (which is included). Both my friend and I were maybe a little too excited that the hostel had coco puffs. After a full nights sleep, coffee and breakfast I was able to fully appreciate our hostel. It is probably one of the best I have ever stayed in. Decent amenities, free breakfast, free towels, super kind staff, and all of the walls are covered in huge murals. Its also right in the center of town, so if your ever in Prague stay here.
We left the hostel and started to wander to go meet our friends. First we went through old town square, which houses a famous but perplexing clock.
Then we crossed Charles Bridge, perhaps the most famous site in Prague, which is lined with christian statues. It is impossible to capture in a single picture, but it offered a beautiful view of the city and each statue had impressive emotional detail carved into the faces.
We then had a twenty minute uphill walk to meet our friends. We stopped along the way in the gingerbread museum to get some very necessary and very cute sustenance.
Our friends (from DIS) had already been in Prague a few days and hit up most of the major sites, but we headed to the “little Eiffel Tower” together. Its actually called Petrin Tower, and the Czech don’t really like it when you refer to their monuments as a lesser version of western european attraction. Shocking I know. Even before scaling hundreds of steps to the top, the view was pretty spectacular.
Climbing the hundreds of winding steps on a rickety metal structure brought me back to my first time climbing the Eiffel tower. I also learned on the ascent that all three of my travel companions were afraid of heights, which made for an interesting journey. Once we reached the top, even though it was foggy, we could see over the whole city. I was really impressed with Prague’s haunting gothic beauty (as was Arthur). Heres a pic of what the tower looks like.
After this little bit of physical exertion we decided it was time for more food. My friends had been raving about this pastry, which they called turtlenecks. I never learned the real Czech name, but I did learn that I want to be in a committed relationship with this food. Its dough wrapped around a spit, covered in cinnamon sugar, and cooked over coals. Then you get to choose a filling which can be plain sugar, vanilla pastry cream, nuts of different varieties, caramel or chocolate. Of course I got chocolate.
That wasn’t quite enough food, so we also got fried potatoes on a stick.
Then it was time to explore the castle and cathedral. The castle complex is huge and on a hill near the Petrin tower, looking over the city. We had been warned by the staff at our hostel that paying for a ticket at the castle was not worth it, so instead we wandered through the parts that were free to the public. It was quite packed with tourists of many varieties. I had trouble “feeling the history” when it was so crowded, I more felt like I was on an assembly line, filling from one place to the next, taking a series of obligatory pictures.
When I reached the church I took a moment alone and said Kaddish (a jewish prayer for the dead) since it was my aunt’s yartzheit. I often find it hard to balance my “real” life with my experiences while I travel, but this was a really lovely moment of solitude where I was able to honor someone I love in a holy space and then transition back to enjoying my trip.
We left the castle complex and headed down to the Lennon Wall. There was a guy and his guitar playing “Here Comes the Sun.” I learned in the late 1980s the wall was a place of social expression for young Czechs rebelling against their government. They called themselves lennonist (not leninists) and focused on john lennon’s messages of peace and love as their core doctrine. Over the years the wall has been painted and repainted to the point it barely looks like its first iteration. Also there are a lot of pink floyd quotes which seems a bit out of place. It was confusing to stand next to these messages of peace, which represented the ideals of an entire movement. It was inspiring and hopeful, but at the same time it was depressing that we are so far from accomplishing these goals. I decided to focus on the positive and the perpetual protester in my heart got pretty damn excited, because who doesn’t love a little optimism and social rebellion.
We walked back to our hostel and regrouped before heading out for some traditional Czech fare, but I will address that in a post thats all food!