“Prague,” or, “Sigmund Freud get down from there you aren’t a cat”
We’re on a bus back from Prague!1 The last three days were spent wandering around the city, taking part in a series of tours where more information than I know what to do with was poured into my brain.2 For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to divide this into a few sections, because after three days I have a solid amount of photos to share.
The first day, we were up early to catch our bus from Vienna to Prague. And then we sat on a bus for a few hours. Turns out that if you have a T-Mobile plan that you bought in Austria, it doesn’t work in other countries, but if you have a T-Mobile plan that you bought in the US, it’ll work anywhere in Europe. Thanks, T-Mobile, for being a horrible mess. So the bus ride was less productive than I’d hoped.3
But you’re not here to read my complaints about the inexplicable tangle that is international cell phone networks, you’re here for pretty pictures.4 So, without further ado, off we go:
I’m going to start with the Powder Tower, which was the landmark that was used for everything the first day, as it’s the most visible building near our hostel.
From there, it gets all narrow and twisty and confusing, with some lovely little alleys like this. (The green building, by the way, is the smallest hotel in the city – 4 four rooms.5)
Things I learned: there’s Cubist architecture.
… and accompanying cube-shaped ice cream.
In the main square, we saw something like six different Segway tour guides peddling their services, and some people doing some amusing panhandling.6
The main attraction in that square, by the way, is this clock:
It’s attached to the remains of the city hall, roughly half of which is now a park thanks to some high-speed demolition circa, oh, 1940ish?7
From there, we headed off to Karlsbrücke, a spectacularly old bridge that links the two parts of the city – it’s been there for going on a thousand years, if memory serves.8
The statues (as shown above and below this comment) were added in a couple hundred years after the bridge itself was finished, and I quite liked them.
Oh, and the bridge is beautiful, in case you were wondering.
The next morning we were off across the bridge9 to the other side of the city. The river is still pretty.
After a lot of stairs,10 we arrived at the castle. I was a bit limited in what I could photograph there – lots of ‘no photography’ signs, and I make it a habit to obey the signage when I’m in a country whose laws I don’t know.11 I did take one here, from the fenester12 in the “defenestration of Prague.”13
And hey, the nice thing about strategic hilltops? They have awesome views.
Also included in the castle complex is a gorgeous gothic cathedral, built across several centuries.14
Inside, you can’t really tell where the building style went from Gothic to Neo-Gothic.15 It’s all gorgeous, and if you’re ever in Prague I totally recommend checking it out.16
After the castle, our formal tour was done for the day, so we started meandering back towards our hostel.17 We wound up stumbling across the senate building, which had public gardens that were quite pretty.
It’s not the formal title of the wall,18 but I found “Wall of Ghosts” to be a perfect title for it, to my own mind.
And at that point, for I think the first time since I got the camera, the battery died. This is what I get for trying to use it for two full days without recharging. Oh well.
The third day, we headed into the former Jewish ghetto – not much of the original place is left, having been torn down and built over, but there’s a few museums around the place. And the classiest Starbucks I’ve ever seen.
In the “heartbreaking” category, there’s a Holocaust memorial museum in the area. Formerly a synagogue, the building was converted following the end of the Second World War. Across all of the internal walls, names are written – every Jewish victim of the Holocaust whose name was known.19
Upstairs is another room full of names, because the three on the main level weren’t enough. Beside that is an exhibit dedicated to paintings made by children in one of the concentration camps. It’s a somber experience.
In another layer of sadness, one of the arches full of names was left unrestored – under the Communist regime, the memorial was sealed to the public, and large portions of the walls were rendered unreadable. According to the Communist government, this was due to humidity, but that statement has been met with skepticism.
On a (somewhat) lighter note, here’s a statue of Freud, hanging three stories above the street. It’s like a really weird version of those motivational kitten posters.
This last one wasn’t actually from Day Three, but I’m putting it here because a pretty sunset over the river seems like the best thing to end on. All told, Prague? I’d recommend it.
- I’m slightly disappointed that it’s not a train, but that’s alleviated by the fact that it’s a double-decker bus and I’m on the top level. ↩
- And hopefully less than 50% poured right back out. ↩
- Let’s be real, I wasn’t actually hoping for any real productivity, I’d already acknowledged that I was going to get very little done after waking up earlier than usual. ↩
- That sounded less demeaning in my head, but I’ve written it and I’m not going to change it now. ↩
- If you’re counting by number of rooms it’s actually not the smallest – that award goes to the “one-room luxury hotel” in the Žižkov Television Tower. ↩
- I’m not at all sorry about the amount of photoshop I did to this photo, I think it turned out pretty cool. ↩
- I don’t think this is going too far with my WWII references, but time will tell. ↩
- That said, there’s a very good reason I’m not a history major, so… don’t cite me on anything ever. ↩
- Though not Karlsbrücke. ↩
- Per iOS’ combination of step counting and a barometer, it was roughly 16 floors equivalent, though all outdoors and a mix of ramps and stairs that would make for a fun siege defense. ↩
“Your honor, I didn’t know the fine for taking photographs without permission was cutting off your hands!” doesn’t work as a defense. Especially when the judge doesn’t speak English.
… yes, these are the things I worry about ↩
- Not actually proper Latin but I am making a joke dangit, suspend your disbelief for a moment ↩
- tl;dr on the Defenestration: the 30 Years War was really about Catholicism versus Protestantism, but the “assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand” moment for that one was a Habsburg (I think) diplomat being chucked out of this window during the negotiation process. ↩
- tl;dr: they ran out of money about 1/6th of the way through building the thing, and then in the 18th century or so someone finally went “does nobody else find it weird that we’ve got 1/6th of a cathedral?” and they actually finished the thing. ↩
- One funny little result of that break is that, while most of the stained glass windows are done in true Gothic style, there’s one that was painted in the Art Nouveau style of the era. It’s beautiful, and a nice contrast. ↩
- Hint: show up early in the day, because the security line to get into the castle complex is truly awful. ↩
- This was at about noon, but it’s a good thing we started then because it took us something like five hours to meander our way across the city. ↩
- That’s “The Grotto (Dripstone Wall)”, according to a plaque. ↩
- Just over a decade ago, Prague was hit by some really bad floods, and the memorial was heavily damaged. Taking advantage of the need to repaint all the names, they added more names that had been discovered since the initial painting. ↩