We woke up the next day with a plan to check out the Jewish sites of Prague. Thinking we were just SO SMART (and following the advice of one Rick Steves), we avoided Saturday (Sabbath – duh), planning to do all the Jewish sites Sunday. HOWEVER, there are approximately one million Jewish holidays I know nothing about (they celebrate Christmas, right?), and the entire Jewish quarter museums and synagogues were closed through Tuesday.
We were disappointed, but quickly remembered plan B – attend beer festival.
Because the Czech Beer Festival was not in the center of town, Blake had carefully mapped out directions – subway stops and everything. We exited the metro and found ourselves….well….not in a great part of town. Our initial wanderings lead us to a highway ramp, at which point yours truly through a tiny (but adorable, of course) fit. Consisting of – “I DON’T CARE IF THIS IS WHERE THE MAP SAYS TO GO – WE ARE OBVIOUSLY IN A BAD PART OF TOWN!” Remembering that there was a McDonald’s (God bless McDonald’s and their free wifi) near the metro stop, we walked back to re-calibrate the GPS on Blake’s phone and the little blue dot miraculous jumped four streets over NOT over a busy highway (iPhone Google maps users – you know what I’m talking about – damn blue dot.) We still seemed to be in a…um….”rough” part of town, but at least we were no longer walking on the side of a highway. I would compare it to the Cotton Bowl area in Dallas. A lot of shadiness and a lot of museums and a lot of convention centers. We passed a tattoo exhibition AND some sort of Hells Angel Bohemia convention before we found a giant tent with “Czech Beer Festival” printed on the side. Breathing a sigh of relief that we were not tattooed and dead, we entered.
The festival consisted of three portions – one large tent with two sections each with two different types of traditional Czech beers sold by the liter and a smaller tent full of microbrews sold by the pint.
And you know all of the American Oktoberfests where everyone tries to be authentic with their lederhosen, pretzels, music, and dancing? Well this was the same thing, but actually authentic.
We found a table and ordered up our first liter of beer (the beginning of several).
After watching a group of Italian guys, all of whom were shirtless and all of whom had their pants/shorts riding so low that, well, let’s just say um… let’s not say anything, just use your imagination… get kicked out for general obnoxiousness, our friends from the previous night, Jessup and Michelle, showed up.
There were SEVERAL liters of beer,
along with several liters of goulash soup,
consumed between the four of us and we somehow made it back to the main part of town around midnight. Let’s just say the trip back seemed a LOT less scary and a lot more fun for some reason, so we decided to keep it going for a nightcap. We also made some really healthy late-night decisions on street food, consuming both kebabs and fried cheese sandwiches (for some reason, I demanded mine be covered in ketchup – MISTAKE).
Blake and I surprisingly woke up the next day feeling ok – so we decided to take a day trip to Kutna Hora, home of a cathedral entirely decorated out of bones.
Our trip out there began innocuously enough, but one of our party (hint – NOT ME) authoritatively demanded that we remain on the train at the Kutna Hora stop, despite the fact that we seemed to be the only people with this “insider info.” We quickly realized our mistake after the ticket checker required us to buy yet another ticket for the next town ten minutes away. We exited the train in the next town over and checked the schedule for the return train, discovering we had an entire two hours to kill, much to my delight (sarcasm). But as it turned out the town was actually mostly awesome and not nearly as tiny as its train station had us believe. We seemed to be the only tourists in the entire town, so we wandered around for our two hours – eventually finding the one and only kolache of our trip (we had been searching for a while since Blake has been craving the Czech Stop kolaches in West for a few months now).
We eventually made it back to Kutna Hora and the Bone Church.
It was apparently decorated using the mass graves from the 14th and 15th century plague victims, and, man, that must have been SOME plague. I kinda felt sorry for the skulls at the back and bottom of the stacks. I mean, if your bones are going to be used for decorations, I would at least want to be one of the main skulls front and center. Not some silly skull used for support at the bottom of a pyramid.
Surprisingly we made it back to Prague with no directional mistakes, finding a great tea place thanks to my BFF, Rick.
This was the beginning of what will turn out to be my own personal rain cloud (literally – there seems to be a rain cloud following us EVERYWHERE), so we hid from the rain for the remainder of the day before finding some delicious dinner and calling it an early night.
We had scheduled a night train for our trip to Krakow, so we had the entire day to hang out beforehand. Now, our last night train experience can only be described as “the worst thing in the world and I never want to relive that night, dear LORD, never never never never,” so I was mostly apprehensive.
Before we left, Blake and I were VERY careful to book a PRIVATE sleeper car, but we were still unsure what to expect. We spent the following day in Prague speculating as to various degrees of awfulness that awaited us.
Besides dreading the upcoming train, we primarily spent the day walking one million miles,
hitting up the castle district again and viewing the Museum of Miniatures, which is exactly what it sounds like. A small museum full of miniatures. And by miniatures, I hope you are thinking REAL tiny. Like flea with horseshoes tiny. You had to use a microscope to view each piece of “art.” It was incredible.
We hit the park with the amazing view for some more park sitting/sleeping/reading,
before heading to Café Chocolate (that’s right) for some AMAZING hot chocolates and bruschetta varieties for dinner. Seriously, America, get it together. From now on, if I order hot chocolate, I want something akin to chocolate sludge – NOT chocolate milk.
We boarded our night train to see our fate for the next 8 hours. BUT wait! Hooray! It was kinda awesome!
And we did little (ok huge) happy dances at the awesomeness that is a night train PRIVATE sleeping cabin (I can’t speak to the second class chairs, but I assume they were awfulness wrapped in terribleness).