Monday, March 8, 2010

Prague, Saturday and Sunday 27th and 28th!

Okay, since (as of now I am rather behind on the blog…thanks to the last massive post being lost somewhere in cyberspace) I am going to do my best to keep to the point for the next few posts. Haha.

Woke up Saturday morning (in the middle of the night) to one of the fellow roomies for the night giving his buddy a big mac and fries to make him feel better, while apologizing for leaving him behind. I am only mentioning this because of how very very tempted I was to reach over and steal those fries (since no one else was claiming them) I didn’t. please admire that.

Woke up in the actually morning to the dorm room’s other 6 beds being occupied by sleeping, drooling, lightly snoring boys. Ran, showered, changed in the room (since there was no danger of anyone waking up…and when one did he was too far out of it to acknowledge anything.. thank God) Flicked on a light while apologizing to the one who was coherent enough to roll over since we had to collect our things. We packed one bag to take with us, and left the other (lighter) one in the locked luggage room.

Jill and I bought lunch supplies at a grocery store..dried fruit, baby carrots, cheese, water, nutella substitute prague knock off brand of white chocolate and hazelnut chocolate in a thicker sort of cream in a jar. Yes! It was good!

Wandered through New Town.. which is very modern actually. Managed to accidentally find an old monastery (rather deserted, so we wandered into a courtyard just to look) and a pretty church J as well as some botanical gardens …with quiet empty gardens waiting for spring. And it cost too much to go into the green house…

Back up the river..with Charles Bridge Tower ahead of us, and the many bridges decorating the space above the water. Jill and I settled on a bench with this view, and of course the castle/cathedral still on the sun washed hill. It was a beautiful day! Powder blue sky, light breeze, in the sunshine (which was everywhere) you could even shed the thick hat and maintain body temperature.

We decided to go on a walking tour..because we kept going past these fabulous buildings and looking at them saying “wow, that’s awesome.. what is it???” so we figured it would be educationally valuable to invest. Especially because the hostel offered half off discounts on certain walking tours. ($15 for a 4 hour tour…deemed worthy investment)

A blend of interesting people in the group…a couple from Australia who were living in London to travel around Europe easier. A man here for a conference from the U.K. A lady in for a different conference from Chicago! We got to talk, swap stories of where we were from, traveling suggestions and such.

First we were at Wenceslas Square! With the Noble Wenceslas (aka: Good King that we sing about at Christmas!!!) on horseback in the center. Behind him the National Gallery museum (unfortunately with a special rock exhibition….*heavy sigh* geeky enough to want to see it, but adventurous enough to not create time lol)

In Wenceslas square were two plaques for “victims of communism”. They were two young men who committed suicide by setting themselves on fire in the square. I can’t really support that..but I do find it incredible how much dedication/conviction they must have had. Would anyone in the U.S. ever feel so driven? (would the media even cover it if it went against something they supported?)

Walked through Old Town (the towns are designated not only by age, but were also once separated by walls with gates and such (some of the towers are remnants of those gates) Astronomical Clock (again!) described in better’s still rather complex to forgive if description is scant)

We also went through the Jewish Quarter. Did not get to see inside any synagogues, or the jewish cemetery…but we did get to see the oldest Synagogue in… eastern Europe? This region? Something like that…this is because the Nazis destroyed all the others. But this section was kept preserved. Hitler mean it to be a humiliating museum of the” lost race”. Also the rest of Prague was kept intact because the soldiers were promised the town to be theirs.. so little damage was done.

Across the Charles Bridge…our guide pointed out St. John’s place where there is a cross on the side and you put your five fingers on each star and say a prayer that is supposed to come true. The stars symbolize innocence. St. John was thrown off the bridge by the king, for refusing to tell him the queen’s secrets at confession (since the king suspected the queen of cheating on him) St. John is now the patron saint of swimmer (even though the St. drowned.. I don’t think I fully understand this system…

Also on the bridge was a cross with Jesus on it, written in Hebrew, “ Holy is God the Father” (this was a direct snub to the Jews by the artists use of hebrew to write such words. Haha

Little Town!!!

With the John Lennon Wall! When he died, overnight this wall was covered with graffiti of love and peace symbols and words. Each night the police would paint over it until they finally gave up and just let it be *flashes peace symbol* (had no sharpee, but signed the wall with a pen!)

Caught a bus up to the castle (the actual palace…modern building forming a square with a fountain in the middle. There was, however, a cool gate! Watched the changing of the guards on the hour…. It was interesting seeing the routine of it. They aren’t supposed to smile, though we did catch on biting back a grin. (so it must not be as consequential) Another winked at the fellow he was exchanging with. I translated it as a “hey buddy, there’s a hot American chick behind you! Way to be lookin’ good in uniform!” Such are the things I deal with while traveling with Jill.. *sighs*

The tour gave us more information on the castle, and the gothic cathedral as well! Although we could not going in, we still got to hear about it’s history (built..but for 500 years remained unfinished before someone else commissioned its completion) My first glimpse of Gargoyles.. and those monstrous waterspouts seemed to decorate every 2 feet of the towers and many turrets!

We walked down the Golden Lane. Tiny, short homes that I would have had to bend to get into the doorway! It used to be the servants quarters who worked in the Palace. And got the name golden lane from…….???? Gold workers?? OH, though among the streets and roads, some houses are still marked by plauges or signs with an image on them that stands for the family who lived there..or their profession. For example, a wood carving of a rose painted blue (the Blue Rose) or a violin for instrument makers.. or statues of an animal or something by the door. It was a way to identify families/which house was whose.

The tour finished at an outlook for Prague, while standing in the cathedrals shadow. A full, pale, moon had risen over the city. And it hovered low in the still blue sky.

Jill and I made a small pilgrimage across the city of Prague (widthwise) stopping to get the second bag and then back to Hostel Elf for a third night. (A little cheaper, and more interesting to stay in!) Arrived, checked in, changed into dress pants (with hiking boots, nice shirt) re-applied the mascara and off we went! Back into town to go to the Municipal building for the evening’s performance!!!

The Municiple building is the second one we saw…though there were many options for ballet, concerts, opera in other old, decorated, fabulous halls and churches (some advertised as even having heating!) We picked this show because it had a concerto, opera, and ballet. A melody of experience J The building itself is an example of the Nouveau style!

Inside it was rather fabulous, and by this I mean big stair case (may I please wear a long sparkling dress and be led down the stairs on the arm of a handsome man?) the stairs split in either direction halfway up, with mirrors along the edges, opening up the already wide hallway. They were pouring champagne for those who wanted it in the area outside the doors. Walking in, the ceiling rose into its dome, with paintings of figures posing, lounging and reaching everywhere. Angel statues held up the balconies. A HUGE organ took up the entire wall behind the stage. My favorite was a little statue to the side of the stage, of a pair waltzing or dancing. The lady was bent backwards while her skirts swirled with motion and the man was bent over her for the dip.

Up on the second balcony, we had a good view of everything on the stage. The 8 musicians came out..strings except for a French horn and oboe. Their music was magic to the hall. Leaping off the stage and billowing out to fill every part of the vast room. (I don’t think they used microphones..) An opera singer came on stage, dressed in yellow and she sang soprano in a way I thought impossible for the human voice! There was such intensity on her face, we could see even from our perch. Her mouth opened wide, and her forehead scrunched up, while her stance allowed her whole body to be given into the note. ( I have never heard opera before. Apparently my great aunt was an opera star. She must have been a real piece of work..)

The ballet was a little disappointing. Kind of like a ballet class was having a recital. However, I am inexperienced enough that I still enjoyed it (even though there were several dances that I was fairly certain Carolyn had taught me half the steps they used. And if I could have danced some, then Jill could have pwned them) My favorite was the Pas De Duex (step of two) with a girl and guy dancer. There were lifts and turns that had me so enthralled with the movement and balance; the absolute elegance of some of the spins and bends around each other.

Side note: did I give up this world of music and dance for the sake of science? I do not miss the idea of the stage, nor the anxiety of auditions, or the pressure of performance. But I miss working with peers with a single minded intent of music. I miss taking a line of notes and using them to reach out to others.. I miss giving my heart words to speak.

We Walked back to “home” Hostel Efl. Fell asleep before the rest of the room made it back in. Really missing out on the Pub Crawls here *sarcasm* They are a big deal.. apparently missing the boat on the catered entertainment for my college age. *rolls eyes*

SUNDAY, last day in Prague. (sorry for how long this is)

Short summary. Up and out on the road. Made it up to castle town again..through the artsy district. I bought a leather bracelet with a metal clasp of twisted steel and maybe copper or something on Charles bridge (from the artist). We picked up some more dried fruit from a stand on the way up a never ending hill. Still could not get into the cathedral (even though it was supposed to be open).

Meandered back through to pick up the luggage we left in the Hostel (on the other side of town..far side). We took it slow. Stopped next to the Town Square where there was a fair to buy a well, I don’t kjnow what they were called. It was bread that the dough was wrapped around a metal poll and it was cooked (rotisserie style) over some coals. Pulled off and rolled through a little sugar, and handed to one to nibble on happily (with some hot, spiced red wine).

After shouldering the bags, we ate lunch in Wenceslas Square.. . now, we still had the second half of the white and hazelnut chocolate Prague version of Nutella. We had no way to get the rest out of the jar though. So we threw it away. ..haha schezare! (joking) of course we didn’t throw it away!!!!!!! I think it was Jill who came up with the technique to simply dig in with our fingers to get to the bottom, then slather it on the crackers we had. To our credit, we made it all the way to the bottom of the jar before running out of crackers (and not being able to reach it either). So our hands had chocolate all over them, under the nails, and a little around our mouths too. (much to the amusement of a boy who sat on a bench nearby).

For the rest of the day we got on the metro, then a bus, then back on the bus (wrong terminal) then the plane (where we met a nice Italian guy who was excited to talk to us in English!) then another bus, and once back at termini..the last bus! How weird to feel home here in this big strange city…

Back Home in Rome J

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