Monday, July 2, 2012

Czech Republic

 After a few days in Wroclaw I threw my Zloty into my (ever-expanding with spare change) wallet and withdrew Czech Crowns. Everyone says that Prague is "so cheap!" but I'm wondering if those people are just used to ridiculously high prices in Western Europe and Scandinavia. I found it to be comparable to the U.S., but with more expensive food. I ended up spending a lot more money in the country than I had expected - about double what I initially withdrew.

The thing that surprised me most about Prague was the weather. I was not expecting it to be nearly as hot and humid as it was. In fact, it was so gross and I was sweating so much that I ruined a shirt because I got my hot pink purse wet and the dye bled all over. Though I suppose I shouldn't be complaining, because it's better than the cold and rain I found in Helsinki.

As expected, the city was beautiful. There was about the right amount to do for three full days, and then I was able to take two day trips. The first day I concentrated on the west side of town - Old Town, main square, and Jewish Quarter (and getting lost). Day two I headed across the St. Charles Bridge and up to the castle complex on the top of the hill (this took me almost the entire day). Day three was more wandering and getting lost, and the rest of the east side of the bridge.

 Old Jewish cemetary.

 Entering the main square (with the dancing beer man).

 View from the St. Charles Bridge.


 Inside St. Vitus Cathedral.

At Lennon Wall.

My first day trip was to Kutna Hora, home of the famous Ossuary. It was one of the more difficult side trips I had to take (again, everyone said "tourist trail!" but I was the only one on my bus...) and started with me getting a bit lost (surprise, surprise). Finally though, I found the Bone Church. They estimate that it's decorated with the bones of about 40,000 people, most of whom died in the 14th-15th century due to war and plagues. After that I found a bus to the Old Town, where I found all of the tourists I had heard so much about and the beautiful St. Barbara's cathedral.

 At the entrance.

 One of five massive structures.

 The centerpiece - the chandelier.

 Small street in Old Town. Possible new nickname?

 Walking up to St. Barbara's is incredibly impressive.

View of the town from St. Barbara's.

My final day I had planned to go way outside of town, but I was tired, so instead I chose the closer town of Karlstejn. According to the books, it's a lovely castle, but it's been overexploited by tourism. While it is definitely set up for tourists, it really wasn't as terrible as I was expecting. The castle was nice (if a bit pricey) and I got a workout in climbing the hill to the top in the heat.

 Arriving in Karlstejn.

 First view of the castle.

 Nearing the top, and the sun is really coming out now.

 View from the top.

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