Saturday, November 17

praha :: day 1.5 :: in search of the astronomical clock

our hotel is ibis praha smichov, part of the ibis chain which provides very clean, efficient and practical lodging. it's simple and does the job, which i love.

as soon as we check in, some of us leave to search for food. across the street, we see a pilsner sign and the word "restaurant". this is where i have my first beer in praha.

yummy cheap half liter for something like $2. mmmm.

destructor and i split a goulash soup and a "czech plate", which consists of "3 meats", bread dumplings, potato dumplings, stewed cabbage (like sauerkraut but sweeter) and a sausage.

the "3 meats" turn out to be pork, ham, and beef. the pork is my favorite. the dumplings are not what i expected. i had a mental image of little round dumplings, kind of like gnocchi, but instead i get slices of potato like dough and plain bread like dough. the funny thing is, the bread dumplings remind me of chinese "man tou", which i love. overall the food is very satisfying, but probably because we're so hungry.

after re-fueling, we re-group and hop on the metro into the city center to explore.

by now we are running on pure adrenaline, wandering through all the little back streets in a daze. despite the cold and fatigue, i soak up everything around me. everything is beautiful and interesting. buildings, buildings and more buildings everywhere - each completely different from the next.

tourist information?

shoes on cobblestone!

this would become the deceptive landmark we would use to navigate. i believe this is called the Powder Tower, though i am just guessing. from this point on, we would forever walk towards this tricky building, thinking it is the Astronomical Clock (which is actually in the opposite direction)

there it is again. it looks deceptively like the top of the Astronomical Clock at all times. it's tall and pointy and we would walk towards it all the time before realizing we were going the wrong way a few blocks down.

eventually we stumble into the Old Town Square, famous for tourist traps. The sun is setting and the views are amazing.

this is the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. people come stand in front of it just to watch what happens on the hour. in my Lonely Planet book, the description of what this entire structure means and does is absolutely fascinating. but when we wait with sleepy eyes for 7pm to come, the experience is disappointing. we sit at a cafe in front of this clock so we can watch, paying for overpriced hot chocolate and mulled wine while struggling to stay awake.

as 7pm nears, i stand up so i can take a video. the two little windows above the giant clock open and what appears to be a bunch of statues move past. that is all. i vaguely remember my book saying something about how Death rings a bell and inverts his hourglass (did not see this), and then 12 Apostles parade past the windows, nodding to the crowd (may have seen one of them "turn" towards me, but could have been dreaming at this point). my video captures this anti-climactic moment, with belvedere's voice saying things like: "that's it??", "that was great", and "that's ALL??"

i did not count how many there were but am still convinced after the fact that maybe something different happens at different hours. read a brief description here.

after this we cannot hold out any longer so destructor and i head back to the hotel, stopping by Tesco (dangerously located next door) to buy water (which takes what seems like an hour to find) before finally going to sleep after 30 hours of staying awake.

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