Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Beautiful City of Prague

This past week we spent our first holiday outside of Ireland in the gorgeous city of Prague. We had always heard it was a beautiful place to visit, but neither of us knew what to expect. I (Ross) arrived a week before Suzanne to attend a philosophy conference where I shared a paper.  It went really well and I had incredible opportunities to meet and dine with some important philosophers in my field of study.  It was such a privilege to talk philosophy over a pint with some of the philosophers I most admire... and in Prague of all places!

I (Suzanne) met up with Ross on the last day of his conference. We spent five days and four nights touring Prague and two towns outside of the city. After a guided walking tour given through Ross' conference,  we ate dinner at an authentic Czech restaurant with the Brower family (the husband is the man Ross wanted to work with at Purdue University). They were an incredibly sweet family.  Once we went back to our hotel room my stomach started feeling really crummy. Unfortunately, that whole night I was keeled over the toilet... not the pleasant first night I was expecting! That next day, we had so much we wanted to see but because I still was feeling awful we took it really slow. I slugged through the Jewish Quarter, an area in town that was the Jewish Ghetto during WWII. There is a cemetery there where 20,000 Jews are buried, but because of how small the area is, the bodies are buried vertically. The headstones are literally on top of each other! It was really sad.  After barely making it through that area of town, we went back for a two hour nap to power up. That night we went back out to explore the famous Charles Bridge.

Our beautiful room at Mosaic House

Sick, sick, sick

Old Town Square

Jewish Cemetery

The waterfront close to our hotel

Feeling well enough to smile by the end of the night :)

The next day, I felt dramatically better. We explored the castle grounds in Prague, a large area that contains the beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague's castle (which really doesn't look like a castle). The rest of the day we spent meandering through the narrow, windy streets. They have fantastic shops, gelato, and an outdoor market where you can find all sorts of fresh fruit and trinkets. That night we found a wonderful outdoor restaurant right on the water where we listened to live music. What a great way to end the day!

St. Vitus Cathedral

I just had to take a picture with this castle guard

Restaurant where we listened to live music

The following day we took a day trip to Kutna Hora, a town an hour outside of Prague. Oh my what an absolute adventure... well actually it was a nightmare trying to get to the right bus station. We were using a friend's travel book to help us get around. Unfortunatley, it was from 2002, and led us all over town to the wrong bus station. But, after a couple of hours, and just before giving up, we finally made it to a train station that led us to our desired destination... the BONE CHURCH! I know, sounds creepy right? Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. It is a church decorated with real human bones from thousands of people that died during a plague and war in the 14th and 15th century. There is a bone chandelier, coat of arms, and huge bone piles. Creepy! Creepy! Creepy!... but very worth the day trip. St. Barbara's Cathedral was in the same town and a wonderful balance to the creepy bone church. After making our way back to Prague, we went to the same restaurant to listen to some more music... but this night the musician was terrible! Quite entertaining with a cowboy hat and a twang... we think he came all the way from the south to serenade us!

Huge bone pile

Coat of Arms made of bones

Bone Chandelier

St. Barbara's Cathedral in Kutna Hora

Our last day, and our favorite, was spent on another day trip to Karlstejn Castle. How amazing and beautiful!!! I was ready to move in! We loved the little shops selling Bohemian crystal, and we just couldn't pass it up! We bought two wine glasses that ring like a bell. To end our trip we went back to Prague and took a relaxing paddle boat ride on the river.  Overall, a fabulous and wonderful trip!  This country is a must do!

Karlstejn Castle... oh how lovely!

In the castle grounds

View from the paddle boat