Friday, September 9, 2011

Prague, Beautiful Architecture and Tourists Galore!

September 9, 2011

I think that I may have had my first travel breakdown on our night train to Prague. We reserved couchettes (small beds) in a sleeper train so that we could "comfortably" sleep through our 14 hour train ride to Prague. Little did I realize that you are actually renting a slab in a 6x6 coffin that contains 5 other slabs. Three slabs stacked on one side and three on the other. The train was so beat and broken down and the train workers were miserable. I was shooed away TWICE, one time by a nasty conductor when we were checking to see if we were in the right car and another time when I was asking a woman ticket collector where the refreshment car was. She actually yelled at me in what I must assume to be Dutch and waved her hands violently for me to go away. I almost gave her a piece of my mind but feared being left in the desolate Czech countryside. After realizing that we would be sharing our coffin with three strange men, I began to wonder if the scary countryside might be a better option. Luckily, we survived the journey unscathed and the strange men were somewhat friendly and un-smelly.

Once arriving in Prague, we went straight to the tourist office to seek accommodation. She found us an apartment and sent us on our way for what we thought was an easy 15 minute walk to the hotel. We ended up getting lost for about an hour, literally walking back and forth on one street about 6 times because the street names were so confusing and the streets seem to go in every direction. After finally stumbling upon our hotel, we were fearful of the horrible alley entrance. Also, it was called ArtHarmony Hostel and indeed was not a hotel. We walked up the two flights of stairs, fearful of what we might find. The place actually turned out to be very cute and hippy-ish! I felt like I was in Woodstock. Our room included a kitchen, a loft, and had natural elements and trees everywhere. We absolutely adored it.

We were completely famished and went to a restaurant, recommended by the hostel, that served traditional Czech food. We ordered a huge dish of sausage, duck, ribs and potato dumplings and the three of us devoured it. The restaurant was charming and they had the cutest Yorkie running around.

After lunch, we wandered around for a bit and admired all of the beautiful buildings and churches. We made our way across Charles Bridge and climbed yet another tower for some remarkable views of the city. Prague is such a gorgeous city but it was completely swarmed with tourists! We met with Natalie's friend, Kim, for dinner in a great restaurant directly across from the National Theater. Czech food is delicious and it was great hearing about Prague from someone who lives there.

After dinner, we attended a classical concert at Saint Nicholas Church (although Santa never made an appearance). The organist was world renowned and the trumpet player and soprano were wonderful, as well. It really made me miss singing!

We headed back to our hostel and admired all of the gorgeous buildings in the moonlight. Prague really is a gorgeous, music filled city. I just wish that these huge tour groups would vanish. It so sad when a city gets completely taken over by tourists! Nonetheless, Prague is still beautiful!

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