jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 87 [26 Apr 09] – Prague

Posted in Prague by jn82 on April 26, 2009

This morning, we headed to the old city centre to join a free walking tour of the left bank’s old city and Jewish quarter. The old town in Prague is really is a very nice, with many old buildings with different architecture styles and colours. My only gripe is that there are way too many tourists here, and it is not even peak season yet. I cannot really remember the buildings and the history behind them right now because I did not listen closely to what the guide was saying, as it got pretty boring after a few minutes where we would just walk from place to place and she would spit our hard facts about each site.

Old town square.

Astronomical clock.

St. Nicolas Church.

Tyn Church.

After the old town square, we continued walking around the streets of the old town, and saw a few churches and other buildings along the way.

Inside Church of St. James.

Tower that was once part of the old city wall.

The Museum of Communism! (entry fee is a very capitalistic 180 Kč)

Wenceslas Square.

Riding the belly of the horse.

The final area of the walking tour was to the Jewish quarter. We were told that less than 1% of the current Czech population are made up of the Jews, and this is due to the happenings of World War II and the mass exodus of Jews prior to that to the USA, Britain and Australia

Synagogues.

Statue of famous Czech-Jewish author Franz Kafka in a dream he had.

Headed for lunch after the tour, and then back to the hostel for a three hour rest as I am writing this now. Heading off on a 16 hour overnight train to Amsterdam in about two hours time.

Today’s pictures here.

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Day 86 [25 Apr 09] – Prague

Posted in Prague by jn82 on April 25, 2009

Today was the first full day of rest in a very long time, and I spent it doing absolutely nothing except watching downloaded tv shows in the hostel and eating cheap chinese food for dinner. Could sure use more days like these, but there is too much to see and too little time to see it with.

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Day 85 [24 Apr 09] – Prague

Posted in Prague by jn82 on April 25, 2009

After failing to wake up early as planned yet again, we set off for Prague castle around mid-day. The guide book said we would need one full day to see the entire castle, so we had our work cut out for us. We decided to take the tram there, which would save us about 45 minutes and an uphill climb to the castle.

Exterior of Prague Castle as viewed from U Prašného mostu.

After paying the pretty steep 475 Kč (S$32) entry fee (175 Kč for the ticket and 300 Kč for the audio guide), we spent a good two hours inside the St. Vitus Cathedral, before heading to explore the remainder of the castle. The St. Vitus Cathedral was constructed in A.D. 926 as the court church of the Premyslid princes. It was named for a wealthy 4th-century Sicilian martyr and has long been the centre of Prague’s religious and political life. The cathedral’s architecture is a mix of Gothic, baroque and neo-Gothic elements.

Front of St. Vitus Cathedral.

Side exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral.

The central nave.

There are many large stained glass windows within the cathedral, as well as the individual small chapels under the windows, and some tombs of religious people. The cathedral has a similar layout to most European cathedrals, except that it is on a much larger scale.

One of the stained glass windows.

Confess your sins, all ye sinners!

Two tons of silver used to make of the tomb of St. Jan Nepomuk.

Once out of the cathedral, we just wondered around the rest of the castle grounds. Not really going to go into much detail here as I have long forgotten all the stuff on the audio guies, so will let the pictures do the talking.

St. George’s Basilica and Convent.

When pigs fly…

Armory, with replicas of armour and weapons.

The iconic Golden lane.

The rack, a torture instrument, in the Daliborka tower.

View of the city from above one of the castle walls.

Entrance to/exit from the castle at Hradčanské náměstí.

That pretty much conclues my Prague Castle experience. Oh yes, one more thing, I did pay 50 Kč (S3.7) to take five shots from a cross-bow in the armoury, just for the fun of it. Needless to day, I was absolutely useless and only three of the five shots actually hit the target board, of which only one registered a point score. Should not have keng so much during army I guess (although I do remember passing range in BMT).

Cross-bow experience.

After the castle, we walked down to cross the Charles Bridge, another landmark and tourist icon in Prague. Unlike one of the many other bridges in Prague, the Charles Bridge serves to connect only pedestrians from the left back to the right bank of the river Vltava. The bridge has lots of history behind it, and it is extremely touristy. All along the bridge are people trying to sell their art pieces and random pieces of jewellery.

Walking down from Prague Castle.

Along Charles Bridge, with a view of the castle.

Too touristy along the bridge!

View of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle from the right bank.

Walking back to the hostel along the right bank, we decided to have dinner at this Chinese place because we were a bit sick of all the heavy Czech food (which is very similar to Austrian and Bavarian food), and also because the Chinese food was extremely cheap. I guess we also do miss having rice with Asian dishes, which is what led me to have a 麻婆豆腐 (ma po tofu) with rice dish as well as half of a chicken fried rice.

Tančící dům (Dancing House), nickname of the Nationale-Nederlanden building near our hostel and the Chinese restaurant.

Day 84 [23 Apr 09] – Vienna to Prague

Posted in Prague by jn82 on April 23, 2009

Half the day was spent (9.58am – 2.39pm) on the train from Vienna to Prague. Another uneventful train ride, unlike the train I read about (in the free copy of the FT given by the Austrian train crew) in eastern India that was hijacked by Maorist rebels. We opted to sit in a Czech Railways first class carriage (as opposed to an older Deutsche Bahn one), which was a very high standard unlike some of the other Eastern European trains we had been on.  For most of the train ride we passed small towns and lush green fields, many filled with bright yellow flowers. The scenery was not as beautiful as the alps in Switzerland or Western Austria, but it was still very relaxing just to look out of the window and take in all nature has to offer.

Euro-city 172 from Vienna to Prague.

Interior of carriage.

Welcome to Prague! (First welcome sign I have seen all trip long)

After making our ticket reservations for the 16 hour sleeper train journey to Amsterdam in four days time, we headed to the hostel to check in and rest, no sightseeing today.

Dinner was at an authentic Czech beer house called U Fleků recommended by the hostel, which we later found out was also in almost every single Prague guide book as well as the place was packed with only tourists. The menu selection is very similar to what you would get in Munich: A lot of pork, sausage and saurkraut. We had some of the house brewed dark beer, which tasted like a stout mixed with a beer, as well as some Becherovka, which is a herbal liquor traditionally made out of several secret plants. It is said to be good for digestion and to have medicinal properties.

U Fleků potato soup.

Flek’s treat: 50g roasted duck, 100g roasted pork, 50g sausage, white and red cabbage, bread dumplings and potato dumpligs.

The beer house scene.

Hopefully will get out of bed early tomorrow and get some signtseeing done.

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