in the Land of Sheep – Part 2/3

16Nov09

Originally written on November 16th, 2009

– Czech Republic

As much as Prague turned to be a lovely city, that much the Czech officials seem to have issues with anyone carrying a Canadian passport. This might have been due to the tense international relations between the two countries. As of recently Czechs and Mexicans need visa to enter Canada. Firstly, we were greeted with a frown and a smirk from the customs official who got a bit confused looking at my Slavic name and the Canadian passport. The trip was finalized with our luggage being RANDOMLY selected for detailed inspection on the way back to the UK. Of all people on the board, there were us, two Canadians, and of all people, our luggage was chosen. HA!

View of Charles Bridge, Prague

A couple of my friends have been telling me how beautiful Prague is. It truly is, especially at night time when the fog starts to rise above the Vltava River and wraps the streets with somewhat mystical appearance. I would consider it to be the most beautiful city in Central Europe. The medieval architecture is striking, and the best part of it all, was to walk around the city and explore it on foot. So we walked, and walked, and walked …

Prague, Czech Republic

Ever since we climbed the dome of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome several years ago, my sister cursed Michelangelo and me, and promised herself not to climb any church tower anymore. She seems to have kept her promise and climbed only one tower in Prague using an elevator! LOL

City View from the Old Town Bridge Tower, Prague

As much as the buildings have to offer from their stylish façade, much less can be seen in the interior. None of the museums or exhibits were impressive. Then again, if you’ve gone to the MET, British Museum, Louvre, Rijksmuseum or Prado just to mention a few, how much is really left to see in the world?

Old Town Square, Prague

Prague also reminded me of Serbia except that in Serbia we don’t have so many splendid castles. While the Hapsburg dynasty ruled from Prague, we, in Serbia, rebelled against them, and finally killed one in 1914. LOL

Serbian surprisingly seems also to be perhaps the fourth most heard language on the streets along with Czech, English and German.

Prague, Czech Republic

Aside from the architecture, Czech cuisine was the second best thing. It’s very heavy, full of meat and dumplings, and quite short on vegetables – just like Serbian cuisine. Well, potatoes and sauerkraut are vegetables so one usually gets those. Hehehe… Instead of going to fancy restaurants that were targeted mostly to tourists who could afford those prices, we decided to visit the venues where locals go.

M.N., I didn’t end up going to Kampa because I preferred a slab of local meat over a little dish sprinkled with some caviar. Thus, I ordered a duck in a Czech tavern, and instead of a piece of duck, I got a whole duck for myself! LOL The following night, I went with wild boar and forest berries. It was a huge feast every night for us. While we enjoyed the food along with good, refreshing Czech beer, we discovered another addiction – mulled wine. 😉 😛

Mulled wine (cooked red wine with spices) is a popular drink in Central Europe during the cold winter months. It was sold on the streets of Prague, and my sister simply couldn’t get enough of it. It was tasty booze that would warm one on a cold day, yet cheaper than Starbucks. In one moment, I thought my sister was going to turn alcoholic because just before we left for the airport, she wanted to have another cup of mulled wine. Once we finally arrived to the restaurant, we realised that the place was closed. It was only 11 am, and it was too early for Czech to drink. Yet, that wasn’t her case. 🙂

Second Courtyard of the Prague Castle

During our visit to the castle, I felt into a tourist trap which hadn’t happened to me in ages. While purchasing the admission tickets for the castle tour, we were advised to buy an audio guide in order to by-pass the 2 hour queue. Without really thinking about it, I said yes, and wasted around $30 on the audio guide. The money wouldn’t have been such a waste had we not figured out that there was NO queue that day at all! The Czech cunning to trick tourists pissed me off so that for the rest of our stay in the city, I scammed my way into all tourist attractions. I’d sneak with organized tour groups pretending to be a part of them in order not to pay the admission neither to a church nor to a synagogue. I already know I shall be going to Hell, so let’s make the decision easier for when I arrive to Purgatory. LOL

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

As the weather was relatively cold, we decided not to explore any smaller Czech towns. Also the clubbing scene doesn’t have much to offer, and one is better off treating oneself with a classical concert. Thus, we heard a quintet on our last night in Prague. I don’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed as when listening to the concert. There is always something going on in my mind, but for that one hour I was in nirvana – competely carefree, sitting in a 18th century museum while listening to echoing classical music that was giving me goose bumps and an odd visceral feeling. It felt like flying on a cloud. 🙂

Classical Concert at the National Museum, Prague

I know there are several of you who’d like to go to Prague. If the reason for it, is the city itself, then you should definitely head over there. If the reason is anything else (read between the lines), then I would say not to even bother. It ain’t what you might have seen in some movie productions. LOL

… to be continued.

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