PRAGUE – SEPT. 23
Today was a completely free day in Prague, so Jacqui, Tara, Taryn, Shanna, and I decided to start our day off by going to Prague Castle. According to Piotr this is the best place to go to first so that you can try and see the changing of the guard that happens at noon. Following the signs we successfully navigated our way to the Castle allowing Tara to completely redeem herself from the Kraków adventure.
We made it all the way up the big hill only stopping to catch some of the amazing views when I saw that we could either go in to the castle grounds area or go into the garden off to the left. I don’t know why, but I was worried that if we did the castle first we might not do the garden area, so I suggested the garden areas first. This area really did give us some truly beautiful views, and oddly there were very view people in this area so it was also very tranquil–especially compared to the main town center.
When we reached the end of the gardens I realized that I had made a huge mistake. See at the end was an exit, but this exit sign specifically said no re-entry. Unfortunately Shanna and Taryn did not see that part of the sign and left the area. While I was annoyed that they had exited, I was more annoyed at myself because I felt like this wouldn’t have happened if we had just gone to the castle area first rather than the gardens. They said that there was another entrance around the corner, but that Tara, Jacqui, and I didn’t have to follow them.
I don’t know why, but we decided to join them on the other side. Well, that’s sort of a lie, I don’t about Jacqui and Tara, but I felt a little guilty and also I knew today was our last day together, so I didn’t want to split up so soon in the day. This, of course, turned out to be a silly decision as the line for re-entry was insanely long. It ended up being around a 45 minute wait, so of course we missed the changing of the guard!
Eh, it was a little annoying at first, but time (and sugar) heal all, and after wandering around the castle grounds I finally got to try the infamous chimney cakes I had been hearing all about. They are apparently THE dessert to try in Eastern Europe, but I was told that they are especially good in Prague…yeah, they were pretty delicious. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it is a sweet dough that is wrapped around a spit and is cooked over coal burning fire.
From here we made our way to the Lennon Wall. I think what I liked the most about it is how there is no definitive artwork. What I saw on the wall might not be exactly like what someone else were to see if they come over a few months from now. The best way I can think to describe it is that it is living art and like an archaeological site it has many layers. No one image is sacrosanct, and in time it will be covered up with someone else’s work. So basically as an anthropology degree holding street art lover, this was a pretty cool stop.
By now I was more than ready for a cool beverage and maybe even something to eat. Last night Piotr had mentioned a rooftop bar that has amazing views of the city and, unlike if we climbed up the tower of the Astronomical Clock, this view would actually include the famous clock. Thank god the building had an elevator in it, because while I was excited for the view, my legs definitely weren’t up for the stairs. It turns out that this was a bit ritzier than we were expecting so we stuck to ordering some water, sodas, and French fries figuring that we could grab some street food before heading to our beer tasting (oh yeah, Topdeck arranged a Czech beer tasting for us!).
Before I forget, one of the funny things that happens when you are on one of these tours is how your group changes throughout the day. After the castle we parted ways with Jacqui because she wanted more time to view the gardens, but throughout the day we added on Alicia and Jules before splintering into mini-groups (duos really). It first started when we were walking from the Lennon wall to the roof bar. We already knew we were meeting up with Alicia, but randomly as we were walking we bumped into Jules and got her to tag along as well.
During this two week tour it has not been uncommon to run into other people in our group while out and about. In some of the smaller towns this never felt particularly surprising, but in the bigger areas, like Kraków and Prague, this was a fun bonus. In a way it made the spaces seem familiar because it’s almost like when you are at a grocery store at home casually running into someone you know. Now obviously the odds were stacked in favor of us seeing one another (after all, when given 24 hours to sightsee, many people pick the same main attractions), but it was still pretty cool.
Even as we were walking from the roof-top bar to the main shopping square we saw people from our group with Sean joining us for a quick bite of street food. Right in the center of the shopping area is an outdoor market that had tons of different stalls selling food, crafts, and various other items. The place we picked was this really cool shish-kabob vendor who served the kabobs hotdog style with the spit in the middle that had chicken, green peppers, onions, and bacon on it. For random street food it was not that bad.
At this point we all started to splinter off. We had two hours to kill before we needed to be back for the beer tasting, and we all had some different ideas of things we wanted to do. I really wanted the chance to check out the old Jewish Ghetto, and it turned out that Jules hadn’t seen it on her last trip to Prague, so she was more than happy to keep me company and walk around a new area.
The Jewish Ghetto is a relatively small area and sadly there really wasn’t much that could be done there for free. Everything from the cemetery to the synagogue had a price, and because of the limited amount of time I had it didn’t seem worth it to pay to get in but then rush through everything. Prague is definitely a city I want to go back to, so I am simply choosing to view this as something to look forward to next time!
Everywhere you look in Prague there is something fun or beautiful to see, so Jules and I decided to take the long route towards getting back to our meeting point, and luckily we happened upon this really cool local gallery. They had a bunch of different funky jewelry, and I figured I should get something fun to remember the trip by, so I decided on this neat 3D printed necklace that changes colors.
The beer tasting was a very interesting event. Turns out we weren’t the only Topdeck group there, except that this group was definitely more…boisterous…lol. Let’s just say that they really enjoyed their beer tasting! Throughout the entire tasting they kept up with their party games Buffalo and The Game of Life. Maybe it’s because I’m not much of a party person, but I had never heard of these games before. The first requires you to drink from your non-dominant hand, and if you are caught using the wrong hand you have to skull (aka chug, aka down) whatever drink is in your hand. The second game seemed pretty boring to me: it was basically just that if you said the word m-i-n-e then you had to do five push-ups. Whatever floats your boat I guess!
Me, however, I was perfectly happy sipping the shot glasses of beer we were given to try handing all of the ones I didn’t like over to Adrien. I’m pretty sure he was really happy he ended up seated next to me! I want to say that I enjoyed the whole experience–and it was really fun–but sadly right before we were walking into the building my mom texts me that there was something wrong with my ticket from Prague to Rome tomorrow, and of course she is already at the airport getting ready to come meet me in Italy. Needless to say this killed any potential buzz!
Thankfully it wasn’t that hard of a problem to fix, so I was back to having fun in no time. Because tonight was our last night together as a group everyone agreed to meet up for one final hurrah. After rushing back to the hotel from the beer tasting to freshen up, we were all set to meet in a centrally located bar. I really wish I could remember the name of the bar so that I could warn everyone never to go there. And to think I thought the service that one night in Bucharest was bad! They at least tried to have some manners.
Honestly, I don’t know that I have ever dealt with a more obnoxious server. When I made my way to the bar with the other people who had also gone back to the hotel first, most of the group was already sitting upfront at the bar. But when we got there the server told us that it would be easier for him if we all went to a table in the back so he could take all of our orders at once…okay, fine that sounds reasonable. The issue was once we were back there he never really gave people their drinks. Poor Tara actually went to the bar to order a drink for herself and Piotr, but she was told to go sit down and they would bring the drinks to her. After probably ten minutes the rude server came over and she asked him if the drinks were still coming he was adamant that no drinks were ordered. I say adamant because instead of doing or saying something like I’m not sure let me check on that for you, he decided to chastise her for daring to go to the bar instead of ordering through him. Of course as this happened another girl from our group, Patrice, came back with a drink that she got from the bar. Everyone kind of just rolled their eyes, and Tara reordered her drink and someone else ordered for Piotr. By now you can probably guess that Piotr got his drink before Tara.
And I haven’t even touched on the great sauce debate. Katherine ordered a hamburger and on the menu it said that it came with one free sauce, so when the meal came she asked for some ketchup. He claimed that her burger already came with the sauce on it, therefore she would have to pay more for it. Look, in reality this isn’t such a big deal, it was only an extra 20 cents. My issue is that this guy was practically yelling at Katherine. Maybe not everyone lives by the motto that the customer is always right, but that doesn’t mean you get to be a complete ass.
Okay, sorry about that rant, I know it’s not the most fascinating trip detail, but I needed to vent a little about that one. Anyway, the whole group ended up moving to another bar, but this one was a little more like a club. Supposedly this bar is part of a pub qcrawl, but when we got there it was still fairly empty. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about me, but these kinds of things just don’t really interest me. I like going to bars and getting to talk with people, but when the music is too loud to hear what anyone is saying, I kind of check out.
Fortunately I wasn’t the only one not loving this club, so Alicia, Dale, Maria, and I called it a night. Like me, Dale and Maria have an early-ish morning flight tomorrow, so we were able to sign up for a shuttle/cab ride to the airport together. This also meant that we both weren’t really up to being out too late, so after leaving the club we made our way over to the tram and picked up some slices of pizza before heading back to the hotel.
Like Kraków, today was a good, full day. I feel like there is still so much that I want to see and do in Prague, but no one can say that I didn’t take advantage of my time here!