Tuesday, January 22

praha :: day 6 - the rest

after lunch we stop by the st nicholas church right down the street. everything inside is absolutely decadent and stunning, with all walls covered covered in detailed gold statues and other details.

after that it's a brisk walk across the charles bridge (this is the first time we walk over it during the day), which is sunny for once. we then turn north and make our way towards the old jewish quarter. the museum and cemetery closes right at 4pm and it's nearly 3:30. when we get there we all realize we have only enough money to get one person inside (with all our money combined) because we had been rushing and did not stop to exchange any money! thanks to belvedere, who graciously donated his money to me so i could go inside because i was the one who really wanted to see the old cemetery.

although i walk through the cemetery fairly quickly, it is definitely worth it. i pass up the actual museum portion in the interest of time, especially since destructor and belvedere are literally sitting outside in the cold on a bench waiting for me. the windy path through the cemetery is surrounded by a heavy sort of quietness. i wish there was someone else here with me to take it all in.

after the jewish quarter we stroll to the stare mesto neighborhood next door. i look for the "house of the black madonna", allegedly a well-known architectural structure to see. we actually pass this building a few times looking for it - we finally look up to see the word "kubista". very anticlimactic.

although we are dead tired from our ambitious day, i insist on looking for the "h&m with the roberto cavalli stuff in the window". i had seen this window display almost every single day i was in praha, but i put off shopping there until the last day. we pass by two different h&m's several times but i am sure they are not the ones i'm looking for because there is no cavalli stuff in the window. anyway, the story of my despair as i realize the roberto cavalli for h&m special had just ended is enough for an entire other entry.

dinner is interesting but not that exciting. we walk around in search of restaurants nearby, but we are a big group and most places can't seat us. finally we end up at a mexican restaurant. here are some blurry pictures. my pictures turn out crappy when i am unexcited about the food. the only interesting thing is the big skewer of food one of my friends get. i think it's a prague thing. i get a veggie burrito, which is surprisingly pleasant tasting (not authentic at all of course, but decent).

after dinner we run into tesco next door and i pick up several bottles of beer to bring back with me. i grab three bottles of the vel-kozel. yay!

Sunday, January 13

praha :: day 6.5 :: lunch "at the maltese knights"

the rain is finally easing up as we make our way down the hill from prague castle through the little streets of mala strana to lunch.

lunch is at u maltezskych rytiru, which means "at the maltese knights". this listing jumped out at me while i was perusing my lonely planet book, mainly because of the description of being able to eat in an underground gothic cellar. unfortunately! i didn't do my research thoroughly, because when we get there, the waiter tells us that the cellar is only open during dinner!! SAD FACE. however, he is very nice and when i ask if we can just see it, he is more than happy to lead us down the steep steps, turn on the lights, and let us into the room.

this is the cellar. it's a small room. at night, they only use candlelight.

back at our table upstairs, i order my beer as we look through the menu.

we start with an appetizer of game. i don't know what it is, but it's pretty tasty.

i have the duck with pickled red cabbage and gnocchi. the gnocchi isn't that good.

destuctor's veal. poor baby cow. i have nothing to say about this (well, just a note that the weird pale green sauce thing you see is supposed to be guacamole).

my friend belvedere's wild boar.

next up: we race through the rest of the day, stopping at st. nicholas church, the charles bridge, old jewish quarter, house of the black madonna, hot dog stand, h&m (yes!), and dinner at a mexican restaurant!

Thursday, January 10

praha :: day 6.33 :: prague castle

from vysehrad we make our way back to the metro and take the green line to malostranska for the prague castle.

we take the old "royal way" up to the castle, which is a loooong flight of stairs. here, i stop to pick up a loose cobblestone to take home.

this is the view at the top of the steps and at the entrance to the castle grounds.

shoes on cobblestone on the castle grounds!

this is the st. vitus cathedral.

inside - there are a lot of beautiful structures but what i love most are these gold, embellished gates in front of various displays.

so, we had been forewarned about this climb but really didn't think it was going to be so bad. it was bad. There are 297 steps up the "great tower" to the top. of course it's completely narrow and claustrophobic inside but at least we are lucky and there are not that many people. every once in awhile we'd stop and press ourselves to the wall as people on their way down pass.

the view from the top is rewarding, but too bad it's not sunny. in fact it's snowing by the time we get up there. we take a break and spend 10 minutes sitting in front of the entrance to the stairs, secretly waiting for the next sucker to emerge from the 297 steps. various expressions emerge - it's really funny.

right after i sneak this photo, the guard yells at me "no photo!" this is inside the old royal palace. the entire room is covered from floor to ceiling in these intricately drawn coat of arms - i think it's a family tree of some sort.

time for a snack! destructor and i practically inhale this meat pie outside in the freezing cold. it's so delicious and satisfying.

zlata ulicka - "golden lane". this is a charming little street in the corner of the castle grounds.

unfortunately all the charming little houses have been converted into various shops catered to tourists. golden lane brings us back to where we started, and we exit and hurry through the rain to meet the rest of our group for lunch in mala strana.

Wednesday, January 2

praha :: day 6 :: vysehrad

of course, by this point we have tons of things left to do/places to see. so what do we do? we cram it all in!

our grueling schedule on our last day begins with getting up at 7am to eat breakfast. we then head out to vysehrad, the "old castle" and the "birthplace of prague". we leave during the morning rush so we can be there by 9am.

our new thing this trip is jumping. everywhere we go we take jumping shots because posing and standing in front of the 100th building/church/museum/site is just boring. here we are at the vysehrad station. destructor is floating.

although we're not that high up, the view outside the station is beautiful.

apparently the area around the vysehrad station is where a lot of skaters hang out and play (according to lonely planet). there's a lot of interesting graffiti to check out. wherever i go, i am always drawn to the graffiti. it provides a different way of looking at the city, something visual that can't be articulated by guidebooks.

on our last day, the sun finally comes out! it had been gloomy and rainy up until that time. praha sun on the last day - i couldn't have asked for more.

as you enter the old castle - which is essentially a park now that many locals frequent on weekends - you walk through several old "gates". this is the "leopold" gate. we remain in front of this gate for nearly 30 minutes because we take many many jumping pictures.

this is the view from one of the pathways along the old wall. it's a pretty nice view of the city and the vltava river.

this is the church of st. peter and paul. beautiful, but the most beautiful thing about this church is the doors.

here i am jumping because the door is really pretty. there's another one next to it with a square pattern but the same bright, fun colors (pink, blue, gold).

pretty soon our walk takes us out the other end of the park. it probably would have been even shorter if we weren't so busy taking jumping pictures.

once outside of vysehrad we head up the street along the river to catch a tram to our next adventure. this is a photo i took while walking through an underpass. it's still pretty early in the morning, maybe 9 - 9:30am.