Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Well here we are back again to regale you all (3 or 4 people) of our adventure in Prague. We had to be at the airport by 4:30am and the trains don't actually run that early in the morning. Lucky for us Mai-ana and Alex were down visiting and she agreed to drop us at the airport (Thank you Mai-ana we looooveee you) Amber also came up with the brilliant plan of checking in on-line and printing out our boarding passes so that meant we could sleep for an extra 30 minutes.
So we are on the plane and it is around 7:30am when typical to our past experience, The pilot announces that there is something wrong with our plane and we will not be taking off on time as he is waiting to find out if it can be fixed. Amber and I look at each other and reminisce about all of our other f*&ked up trips courtesy of Easy Jet and how the pilot's cup holder must be broken again.

* an aside:
When we flew from Thailand to the U.K we also had a delayed take off and we had to spend about 2 hours in the plane while it was sitting on the ground at the Bangkok Airport. Somehow (we were probably delirious) we came up with the reason that the reason we were not taking off was because the pilot's cup holder was broken and he was waiting for a replacement cup holder before take off. Since then every time we are delayed for a flight we comment that the pilot's cup holder must be broken

Anyway about 10 minutes after this first announcement we are informed that this plane is indeed broken and so we all have to disembark and then wait for another plane. Back into the departure lounge we go. Eventually we manage to get into the air and land in Prague where it is snowing. We walk out of Prague airport and make our way the bus stop. Immediately we notice how very cold -12 degrees is. We were told as we landed that the temperature in Prague was -12 and as a comparison it was 6 degrees in London when we left. During the month of Feb , Prague had a average of a high of 2 and a low of -14 degrees. I may never complain about English winters again. Thankfully we made it to our hostel without any problems which is pretty impressive if you consider we had to get a bus and a tram and we were in a non-English speaking country. Also most of the places are totally unpronounceable to us. As we had such a early start we promptly crashed out for several hours.

Once we woke up we went in search of dinner. As we were staying in a pretty touristy area there were lots of cafe/bars/restaurants around us and it was easy to pick one to eat at. We ended up having one of Czech's traditional meals which was a goulash made from Pilsinger Beer and bacon dumplings. It was delicious. I had apple strudel for desert.
After dinner we took ourselves back to our hostel and went to bed.

The next day we went for a walkabout to the Prague Castle which was situated on the top of a big hill that we had to walk up. There was a look out point which was a good photo opp. The Castle came complete with stern looking guards which I was all for trying to make smile but Amber talked me out of the idea.

The funny face is probably due to the fact that I have just seen a lady tourist wearing 6 inch heels. Considering we were up a BIG hill and the roads and pavements are all made of cobblestones, wearing heels in Prague seemed like the quickest route to a broken ankle to us. Anyway the view behind is quite pretty though. The big green dome is Saint Nicholas which is right across the road from our hostel.

See? Scary. Flanking the gates of the palace were these delightful statues. A note about Prague and statues, They seem to really like them. I mean really. Statues are everywhere and at times they are quite disconcerting. Most of them are of people being clubbed or downtrodden in someway. Case in Point:

Once through the gates we discovered that the palace actually looked pretty blah. The church located behind the palace though was amazing. This is Saint Vitus

It was huge, and very pretty. After this we walked around the palace looking for a moat that was supposed to be haunted by a gameskeeper that loved dogs so much he apparently turned into a werewolf.
This is Amber pretending to be a Tesco trolley in a trolley bay!

We left the castle in search of Petrin Hill. On the way we discovered our number one favourite thing about Prague. Street vendors selling hot wine. They are everywhere ( there is at least as many places to buy hot wine as there is statues) Now before we are labelled as winos, I would like to point out that as it is negative something degrees and we spent so much time outside we needed to find someway to keep warm.... well warmish... well not frozen to the ground at any rate. Besides when in Rome....
Next up we went to The Lorreto, this is a replica of the of the original located in Italy. Its claim to fame is that this is where Mary was when she received the Incarnation. The courtyard of the Prague Lorreto is a Pagan burial ground which we thought was quite amusing. It really creeped me out as there are about 30 statues located at the front of the building.

On to Petrin Hill. Which is ginormous. It should be re-classified as a mountain. We walked up to the top and discovered the lookout tower. It is modelled on the Eiffel Tower but only about one 16th of the size. It was tall enough however that Amber could not walk up the stairs to the top. (they were not completely enclosed and you could still see out while walking up and down them) There was a lift so we paid extra and got to the top the easy way. The view was pretty good.

Also we discovered that from up here we could get all of Saint Vitus in one photo.

After taking some photos and admiring the view we wanted to go back down but the elevator was at the bottom and we couldn't call it up for some reason so in the end I walked back down and left Amber at the top waiting for me to send the lift up for her. (Amber is VERY scared of heights)

We then set off on a mission to find Saint Michael's Church. I use the word mission as it was. Petrin is not only a big hill it is also very round and not really having any clue as to where to look for it we had to make a guess at to where it was located. We guessed wrong. About 2 hours later we gave up all hope of ever finding the church and also of ever getting off Petrin Hill, it just went on and on. Eventually we found our way down and home, but we didn't find Saint Michael's. Once we were back at the hostel, Amber was looking at our guide book and noticed that there was a map of Petrin Hill in it. After telling her she was disowned we decided that we would go back again this time with the map.

Day Two
We went off to the Old Town Square which is the home of the Astronomical Clock, and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. The clock is a very popular tourist attraction and the church looks like a Gothic fairy castle according to Amber. Every hour, the clock chimes and does cool stuff; a little skeleton starts ringing a bell and then the doors open on the clock and the 12 apostles are shown. Then higher up in the observation tower a man dressed in costume plays a bugle and waves at the people below to signal all is well. Also in the clock tower are outdoor/indoor restaurants, basically they are like a tent with perspex walls and a hard floor. As it is still very cold, they are also filled with gas patio heaters and lap blankets for the customers. It is very weird sitting down at a cafe and snuggling under a blanket. Weird but necessary.

From here we walked to the Jewish quarter which is once was a walled area in which Jews were forced to live until the 1938 Munich Agreement where Hitler was given the freedom to send them to concentration camps. Sometime in the late 20th century the ghetto was pulled down and Jews were allowed to leave. Now it is a scenic part of Prague with tree lined streets and filled with high class fashion shops. There are still many synagogues and buildings with Jewish insignia.

Day three saw us back at the Astronomical Clock, where we found another cafe to snuggle up in and eat some breakfast. We managed to be there for the hourly show and Amber caught these photos.

And I caught this one of Amber enjoying her breakfast

Then we took at walk to Wenceslas Square. Which, if it really is a square then it is a very big one. We found the National Museum.

And a store with a sign on the window claiming to have seven floors of shoes!! As we were on a very limited budget I didn't go in :(
The following day we spent in our hostel and the day after that we went back to Petrin Mountain-Hill to find Saint Michael's church. We cheated and took the 'funicular' a cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain-hill. Then I found a really big wall.

And then finally we found the church we had been looking for. The reason we wanted to see it as it looked to us to be a building that was more at home in Japan, and the entire thing, including the nails is made from wood.

Right next to our hostel there is a very famous foot bridge called Charles Bridge. It attracts lots and lots of tourists and so there is also commerce. You can buy lots of hand made jewellery and lots of art work including scenic photos. The bridge is flanked on both sides with heaps of statues. Oh and in case you were wondering I think it is famous because they threw some leader off of it once.

We came back here at night a few times to try to get some good night shots. None of them really turned out that good.
Warning: Fuzzy Images Ahead:

So in a nutshell, things we loved about Prague, Brilliant sunny days and blue skys (look at the photos that sky is not photo shopped), Hot wine, Pretty buildings, Charles Bridge, How clean it is (seriously impressed with that), the fact that , in the 1400 and 1600's , 3 executions were preformed by defenestration ( throwing somebody out a window) - seriously it is even noted in our guide book!
Things we didn't love so much: dog poo (they don't pick up after their dogs!)
Things we thought were pretty weird: we did not see a single cat the whole time we were there. Heaps and heaps of dogs though (maybe they ate the cats?)

And now for some more random photos.
Random Street somewhere

Artsy night photo of palace and St Vitus

This is the inner courtyard of our hostel

This is the first floor of our apartment

Amber in Old-Town Square

So there you have it. Next up is an 11 day jaunt around Greece and Italy. Stay tuned :)