So after our sensory overload at the Cliffs of Moher, we headed back to Dublin for one night before catching our flights the next morning. Pretty much a standard night (Guinness, food, and people), but we did have an awesome hotel for that one night that was in the heart of Temple Bar and looked out over the Liffey River. The next morning we turned in our rental car, without a scratch on it (we think), and said our goodbye’s to Katie and Rusty. It was great having them (one of them) on our trip and sad to see them (one of them) go, but it for us it was on to Prague to begin the biggest part of trip: Eastern Europe.
We were able to find our hotel (and I use the term “hotel” loosely) relatively easy, thanks to the help of an American ex-pat, who lives with his wife near Prague. Similarly to several “hotels” we stayed in during our last trip, our room definitely straddled the line between hostel and hotel. A hOstel, if you will. There were four beds in the room, with two twin beds made up and pushed together. However, it was clean, so we were happy (if also unwilling to walk around barefoot.) We set off into town, and soon found a recommended restaurant/beer hall. We ordered traditional Czech cuisine: pork shoulder, dumplings, beer, and more pork. I am in love with Czech cuisine. None of those pesky vegetables to deal with. My plate was literally a slab of pork with a fork in it.
We then headed over to the town square to see what was shaking. As it turns out, a traditional folk song and dance festival was shaking. So we grabbed a few beers from a nearby venue and took a front row seat because I’ve always wanted to see how other cultures do the Dougy. Imagine lots of people in lederhosen, plucking old wooden instruments, and dancing – and by dancing, I mean step-skipping arm-in-arm acting out story lines.
My favorite was a bunch of hens (women) clucking around the stage being fought over by two roosters (men) cawing from either side of the stage. All with their arms under their armpits in traditional wing fashion.
It was right before sunset, so we grabbed a couple sugar-covered ring thingies and headed over to what would be our nightly tradition, watching the sun set from the Charles Bridge.
The next day we put on our walking shoes and headed out for a long, wandering trek throughout the city. One of the best parts of these is getting lost, which is inevitable, but if you are in the right frame of mind it can be a great way to discover parts of the city that you hadn’t planned on.
We wandered around, eventually finding the Lennon Wall. Apparently after John Lennon’s assassination in 1980, this wall was spontaneously covered in memorial “All You Need Is Love” and “Imagine” graffiti. Each day it was covered up by the government and each night the paint would go back up until finally the government stopped trying. Now it is covered in graffiti ranging from the inspirational to the stupid (“Chuck wuz here”).
We made our way up to the Prague Castle, walking through the gates that are obviously meant to scare away intruders, and around the cathedral and castle grounds.
We then headed for the nearby monastery for some monastering and tasty homemade beers. We found ourselves at a table with a couple from Chicago, and noting the same taste in guide books (Rick Steves – what what!) quickly got into a conversation about our upcoming plans. Having a mobile data plan, they were privy to all sorts of exciting stuff that we mostly knew nothing about – most importantly a Czech beer festival that was happening in town. We decided to try to meet up the next day to check it out. But for now, full of trappist ale and exhausted from walking, we trekked up a hill (I know, it doesn’t make sense) towards a mini Eiffel Tower that they have to seek out a place with a great view of the town so we could relax. We both pulled out our Kindles with the high hopes of doing some reading, but both immediately passed out for a few hours.
Waking up fully refreshed, we headed down to grab some food and head over to a tower at the end of the Charles Bridge where we saw you could pay a little to climb up to the top and watch the sunset. We assumed there would be a ton of people up there given the amazing view (and pack of tourists down below), but we found ourselves basically alone at the top for most of the time. We sat back, took in the view, and watched Prague from the best vantage point in town. Both in terms of beauty and in weirdness (Beauty – self evident, Weirdness – Well, there are a lot of “stag” parties (bachelor parties) in Prague. And they are all themed. We were able to watch from our tower (that’s right – OUR tower) a stag party with a LMFAO theme make their way across the Charles Bridge. It was as ridiculous as you are probably imaging. They had guys dressed as all the main LMFAO suspects, including the robot head dude. And they did the LMFAO running man style dance maybe 17 – 29 million times.)
After our exciting sunset adventure, we headed back to the main square to buy some dinner from some stands set up in the area. Having been warned of multiple cons, we were both pretty sure we had all the various ways we could be ripped off covered. BUT WE DIDN’T! We forgot about the old “sell you 5 pounds of roasted ham” con. We are so naïve. Kristi saw the roasting hams earlier that day, and had been talking about eating some for dinner all day. Thinking it would be cheap, we moseyed on up, ordered a bratwurst (me) and ham (Kristi) and two beers. After paying $25, and surveying the MASSIVE quantities of ham on Kristi’s plate, we figured out the ruse. We’d been swine-dled (yeah, that’s right) because it turns out the price on the board was per 100kg. Luckily, I have never met a 5 pound slab of pork I haven’t bested, so that ham went to good use (my belly).