Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The beautiful Prague - Part 1

The fairytale that is Prague.
Prague, Praha as the locals call it, is such an amazingly gorgeous city with an even more intriguing history that I can't believe I haven't written about it yet. I had such a great time in Prague. Not only did I get to see a really beautiful city and learn about its history, but I actually made friends whom I really value and am still in touch with to this day. I took a sleeper train from Budapest to Prague and shared my cabin with four really cool and down-to-earth Brazilian guys. Two were from Sao Paulo and the other two from a more beachy, less touristy area in Brazil. It was pretty fun listening to their different accounts of Brazil, different foods they have (although it seems like I cannot eat anything in the beachy parts since they love their meat there), and the difference in their accents. After playing candy crush for the first time ever on one of the guys' tablets for an hour and sleeping on the middle bunk bed for a little bit, we had arrived in Praha…in the middle of the night. 

Prague's main train station 
If you don't know this yet, Europe pretty much sleeps during Christmas time and Prague was no exception (I went there the day before Christmas till the day before New Year). I walked by myself with a backpack in the very cold weather to get to my hostel just to find that no one was there! I waited at the hotel across the street staring through their window to see if any lights would come on. Finally at around 6-7 a.m., the very lovely girl who worked there opened up the doors and told me they had been closed for Christmas and that she had just arrived as well. We chatted and had a cup of coffee while we waited for the hostel to warm up. Then I went to bed to pass out - the only person there :D

The Art Hole Hostel kitchen where I was the only one allowed to make omelets with the eggs because the owners (a cool British guy and his Czech wife and their two adorable kids) were awesome and became my friends. 
One of the best hostels I have ever stayed at. Ever!

The adorable owner's daughter who became my best friend during my stay there. She wouldn't let me leave the hostel to go sightseeing and the day I was leaving she was really sad and stopped talking to me. I had to explain to her that I had to leave but she was still mad at me for leaving :(

Disclaimer: Art Hole Hostel is truly a cool place to meet awesome people, it is extremely clean, super close to the Old Town Square, reasonably priced, and has the best owners who care about the place and everyone that stays there. But it should also be noted that Madhouse hostel is the most popular hostel in Prague. It can be booked or priced more than a hotel at times (e.g. when you try to book the day before you go there during Christmas holidays) and/or be too loud. It has a reputation for being a party hostel and is filled with younger backpackers but it is also very clean and a great place to meet people as well. Some of the friends I made and my sister also stayed there and they loved their stay!

So while I tried to sleep and couldn't due to excitement, I decided to get up and go see the city.

P.S. The free walking tours (ahem...don't skimp on the tip, that's how they get paid) throughout Europe were all beyond amazing. The guides are always enthusiastic, interested-in-that-specific-culture/city, young, and energetic, and they literally show you everything you need to know with interesting back stories and some of them (shout out to my guide in Berlin) hilarious comedy. The tours in Prague meet in front of the Astronomical clock in old town.

Yes, those are paper mannequins hanging there. 
Czech sculptor David Černý's In Utero (or the nude pregnant woman) statute made out of mirrors. It is one of his many weird statutes that he has installed around the city. It had unfortunately become more of a place for druggies to do drugs in the pregnant belly - awk.

Just what the city looks like at 10 a.m.
So I've been to many Christmas markets throughout Europe and none of them disappoint. Here's the one from Prague located in old town square:

Church of Our Lady before Tyn in the background
Looks like a fairy tale, doesn't it?

The Powder Gate - one of the remaining original city gates from the 11th century. It separates the "old town" from the "new town".
The Powder Tower: One of the original 13 city gates 
In the 17th century, it was used to store gun powder; hence, the name - Powder Tower or Powder Gate.

The Astronomical clock. Read below for the fascinating story!

This beyond fascinating clock was actually voted the most overrated attraction of Europe. I disagree. From the story behind it to its uniqueness to the story behind every single piece of the clock, there is nothing overrated about this piece of history. The legend has it that the a famous master clockmaker made this clock specifically to the order of the Prague councillors. When the work was finished, he was invited over to the castle for a thank you dinner and drinks. However, he was instead blinded so that he wouldn't be able to replicate his work for anyone else. He was so devastated that he decided to throw his body inside the clock and break the clock. In this way he took his secrets with him to the grave. It wouldn't be another 100 years until after numerous attempts, someone was able to fix the clock. Although the validity of that story is now under question, the clock remains a masterful piece of work. Make sure to check the hourly shows (turning of the clock that inevitably turns into a mesmerizing show) and prepare to be blown away! 

For more information and interesting facts, go to: http://www.staromestskaradnicepraha.cz/en/astronomical-clock/

Hey, I hope you enjoyed reading! Make sure to check out Part 2. Comment below if you are interested to know more about a certain place and I will be sure to get back to you. Thanks :)


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