Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Long “Weekend” in Prague

[It is my literal last day in Switzerland, so clearly now is the time to catch up on trips from over a month ago. Stay tuned for lots of entries and a wrap up in the next few weeks.]
Our first morning in Prague, we went for breakfast in an Art Deco restaurant with a funny waiter and tea with milk. Heaven. Then we went on another free walking tour. I can’t stress enough that these are the best way to learn about a city. We only had a day in Prague, so not only did we get to check off a lot of the key sights, but we also learned more than was in the guidebook and saw other things, like the Jewish quarter, that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We obvs saw the famous Prague clock, but didn’t get to see it strike the hour. Not that we would have known when that is - this clock includes moon cycle, astrological symbols, day, month, year, temperature, GPS coordinates, cooking times, etc.

A definite highlight of the day was our lunch at the Easter market. We got kielbasa sausages and these traditional Central/Eastern European pastries called trdelniks (literally no idea how to pronounce that) which are baked or fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar. How lucky were we to travel in the weeks before Easter when every city has its Easter markets?

We spent the afternoon in the castle, which we got to by walking across St. Charles’ Bridge, a famous pedestrian bridge lined with statues and 5,000,000 caricaturists. From the castle, on a hill in the midst of a sea full of red roofed houses, we could see over the river and the whole city. We didn’t go in the actual castle, but saw the cathedral on the castle grounds at just the right moment to revel in the stained glass light.

Fun fact about Prague: My friend Anna’s family lives in Prague (pray-gue), Oklahoma, so this whole trip was centered around matching Czech and Oklahoma traditions (and mispronouncing the name of the city). One thing we had to do was go to the church from which the people of Prague, OK, supposedly stole a baby Jesus statue. Anna was pretty much dying laughing when we finally saw it. We also went on a hunt through the city for kolaches, a Czech pastry that has its own festival in Oklahoma. They are like Danishes, but are pesky to track down. We gave up after looking in tons of pastry shops and bakeries, grabbed dinner (disgusting, unless you like gravy and dumplings that are both made from flour+water paste) and then stopped in a convenience store for some snacks and there they were! Kolaches!

The Church of the Well-Dressed, Stolen Baby Jesus

The next morning we took the train to Vienna. On the train I finished The Kite Runner, which was so incredible. I read it the entire 6 hour train ride from Budapest to Prague, and opened it almost as soon as we got on the train to Vienna. So vivid, so emotional, and such a far cry from the life I am blessed to be living. x

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