Archive for the ‘czech republic’ Category

prague photos

Monday, December 10th, 2007

This pretty Christmas market was right where I got off the metro and got on the tram my first evening in town.

The entire facade of this building is an advent calendar!!

The Christmas market in Old Town Square.

View of somewhere (including Prague Castle) from somewhere.

Old Town Square the next morning.

This might be a church–darned if I remember.

This definitely is a church, complete with a great story about a statue of the Virgin Mary, a miracle, and a thief’s hand.

Just another old church hundreds of years old…

Franz Kafka.

The Old-New Synagogue (I think).

Prague Castle + St. Vitus Cathedral + menorah.

Atlas holding up the world.

Okay, so I really really should’ve asked about this.

On the crowded Charles Bridge.

The Lennon Wall. After Lennon’s death, someone wrote something like “give peace a chance” or “all you need is love” on this wall. The next day, of course, the communists had erased it. It was back again the next morning. And the next. Now it’s legal to tag this wall, and they put that mask of Lennon up there to remind folks that he’s what it’s about, ’cause at this point it’s kinda hard to find him and his message under a lot of the tags…

Walking up the stairs towards Prague Castle.

The view from the top.

Look at those shadows! I think it wasn’t even 2:30 in the afternoon…

St. Vitus Cathedral.

Back at the Christmas market in Old Town Square.

Totally my favorite thing about Prague. YUM YUM YUM.

The crowd waiting to watch the Astonomical Clock strike the hour.

The Astronomical Clock–not striking the hour, though.

Prague Castle at night, from Charles Bridge.

I did go see a black light theatre performance that evening, called Aspects of Alice, and very (very) vaguely based on Alice in Wonderland (I chose it ’cause Rick Steves recommended it and ’cause, hey, Alice in Wonderland). It was kind of cool but once the novelty wore off I wished for less clowning and more dancing. There wasn’t really any dancing at all, which was a pity, because the potential for dance that the kind of illusions they were creating had was (I thought) enormous. There was this one kinda titillating scene in which Alice was awakened to her sexuality by her mirror self, and they were definitely both topless on stage. Also a lot of mess with an apple and the Adam and Eve thing. Also it was very obviously a tourist thing. They didn’t bother announcing the top of the show and the intermission and such in Czech–just English and Spanish. What they did had so much potential!! They just didn’t rise to it, ’cause they didn’t need to, I guess.

The next day I went to the Mucha Museum and then a couple sites in the Jewish Quarter, namely Pinkas Synagogue–the walls of which have been painstakingly covered with the handwritten names of every Jewish Czech victim of the Holocaust, and which includes a display of drawings by children staying at the nearby Terezin concentration camp–and the cemetary–which was for a very long time the only place in the city where Jews could bury their dead, so that some 90,000 graves are stacked on top of one another.

I also walked to Prague’s Gehry building, nicknamed “Fred and Ginger”–

I meant to be alone and do all these things by myself, but a woefully undereducated (or probably just not very bright) guy I met at my hostel chose to attach himself to me for most of the day. I managed to see the things I meant to see anyway (and maybe even saw more so as to avoid having to make conversation), but I was thinking dark thoughts much of the day. I don’t know how to deal with that kind of thing. In the evening I sat by myself in the hostel bar journaling and drinking a huge glass of Czech beer (Pilsner). Then I went to bed. Then I came to Vienna.

more things in heaven and earth (prague, czech republic)

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Yeah, so I should have stayed in Berlin longer, and seen the fucking Gates of Babylon at the Pergamon, and et cetera et cetera, but the world is too big and there is too much to see and I am running out of time.  I know that there is always more to discover about wherever you are, too, though.  I took a free walking tour of Prague today (because I had such fun on the Berlin walk) and our guide, who is from Prague and has lived here almost all her life, said that she sees something new every time she wanders around the old part of town.  I WANT TO SEE EVERYTHING.  But, mostly, I want to go home.  I was exchanging a couple emails with my mom just now and she asked me if I was ready to come home or “rarin’ for more”…  when I said I was definitely ready to go home, she said, “you know, you could change your flight.”  Which I don’t want to do, of course.  It’s just that… you know that wall or whatever that I talked about, and how I couldn’t wait to get to the other side?  I am not convinced anymore that there is an other side.  It’s not a wall, just a slow weariness, I guess.  While traveling alone still has its advantages, it’s hard sometimes for me to motivate myself to get out and do stuff.  Oh, and my shoulders have been aching pretty much without relief for at least a week now.

At the Berlin Hauptbanhof, I bought a ticket from the German border to Prague, since my Eurail pass doesn’t cover the Czech Republic. The first woman I talked to, I said, “hallo, sprechen sie Englisch?” and she quite unapologetically said “nein.” “Nein?” said I. “Nein,” repeated she, and she pointed to some other worker there. So I waited until the other worker was free, all the while thinking to myself, “how can you work in a major international railway station, selling tickets to tourists, and speak no English?” And then I thought to myself, “how can you come to Germany and speak no German and expect people to cater to you in English?” And then I just felt tired. The other worker sold me my ticket with no problem, but didn’t give me a seat reservation of any sort, and the train was very full, so I spent the leg between Berlin and Dresden sitting on the floor next to my pack. Which was fine, don’t get me wrong. I am just ready to come home. You see? Everything is a lot more exhausting than it should be.

I made it to Prague, though, and the adventure in public transportation that was finding my hostel had equal shares frustration and fun. Metro stops are not very well-signed, and tram directions are not either, but riding the tram is really fun and my hostel had given me adequate directions… after I got there, I made myself leave my pack and then head back out again, and I wandered down Wenceslas Square, through streets with all kinds of pretty art nouveau facades, and I found… you guessed it… a Christmas market. Actually I found two of them. I laughed at myself and stared happily at the lights. I also tried this delicious delicious Czech pastry thing called trdlo, or trdelnik. (I’ve seen it both ways–if I’m remembering them both right. Maybe one is singular and one is plural? I have no idea.) It’s sweet dough wrapped around a metal cylinder and rolled in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond bits… then rotated above burning coals, then rolled in sugar again and, if you’re lucky, handed to you piping hot. YUM. I ate two of them, plus a little serving of sugared almonds, and then wondered why I felt queasy. Oops.

Anyway, wandering the city in the dark felt reinvigorating, at least until the queasiness. Today I went on that walking tour I mentioned, which was fun but not as good as the one in Berlin. Prague is a really beautiful city, though, and it was fun to hear the ghost stories and that sort of thing that you don’t really get any other way. Afterwards I’d planned to go to the Mucha museum, but I was craving one of those trd-whatevers and suddenly the Old Town Square was PACKED with people who apparently also wanted one, and by the time I was licking sugar off my fingers, I didn’t think I’d really have time to appreciate the museum before it closed. But it was five minutes to four o’clock, so I joined the INSANE crowd to watch the Astronomical Clock strike the hour. At the end of the little show (the statue of the devil turns over his hourglass and pulls on a bell, and the barely-visible faces of the apostles parade by), the clock made a noise kinda like a party noisemaker, which made me and a few other people in my general vicinity laugh aloud. That and the INSANE CROWD. It was impossible to move. But it didn’t stress me out. I am trying not to let stuff stress me out. Obviously, it is only working part of the time.

Wish I could share some photos (if only so I could clear them off my camera) but alas, no USB port.

This evening I think I’m gonna go see some blacklight theatre, ’cause it sounds kinda like Glo Opera gone professional.

Hey, if you read this, could you comment with something about your life right now? A small observation or what you ate for breakfast? I would really get a kick out of it.  One of those “grass is always greener” things, I guess…

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