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Europe » Czech Republic » Prague » Old Town
July 23rd 2017
Published: July 23rd 2017
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I found my hostel in Prague, and was instantly made to feel very welcome. The people who work there have a few nights that they make food for everyone (which can be up to 200 people), and they put activities on every day & night. That night was free food and a musical talent show as there was a piano and guitar for people to play. All the people staying at the hostel were really friendly, and it’s the best hostel I have stayed in so far.



After dinner I was taught how to play the card game, Irish snap…(which if you don’t know it, causes potentially severe injury to fingers!) and then a group of us went out for drinks at a local bar. The bar may be the strangest place I have been! It was like an underground pub with stone walls with all sorts of graffiti art, and things like swings and wooden ledges people could climb and sit on. The chairs were just logs from trees, and the pub was home to two HUGE Irish wolfhounds. I felt a little sorry for the dogs, who must always be high from the weed fumes! When you go into the pub, you have to pay a minimum of 50 koruna, which gets put on an electronic chip which you swipe at the bar as payment for your drinks instead of paying in cash. It sounds a lot, but 50 koruna is about £1.70, and will buy you maybe a couple of pints. It is very cheap to drink beer in Prague!!



The next day I went on a walking tour put on by the hostel of the street art of Prague. A lot of the art is influenced by Sigmund Freud, who was born and lived in Prague, and also Franz Kafka, who was a writer and was only appreciated for his works after his death. Apparently Kafka, on his death bed, asked his friend to burn all of his writings but his friend ignored him and published them all, making him famous. There is a big silver rotating head in one of the squares which is supposed to be Kafka. Freud died by assisted suicide from his doctor, and there is a sculpture of a man hanging by one arm from a pole at the top of a building, to signify his decision to take his own life. Apparently there have been multiple panicked calls to the emergency services at night when people have seen someone hanging from a building, not knowing it is a statue!



We also visited ‘The Dancing House’ which is a modern building and is all on a wonk, but has amazing views from the balcony which overlooks the city; and the John Lennon wall which is a graffiti art wall which anyone can still draw on. The wall originally started so that young people could secretly voice their anguish at the communist rule, but now people just like to draw shit! This tour was great, up until I took too long taking photos of everything and lost the rest of the group! Balls!!



Anyway, after that I walked up to the castle and took another walking tour of the castle grounds. The castle is massive and is the largest in Europe at over 7 hectares, and the views from the top are very impressive. Inside the cathedral the stained glass is very intricate and pretty - I took a picture so you can copy it Dad! I also took a picture of a statue next to the castle which reminds me of the type of fights El and I *may* have had once upon a time...I'll let you guess which photo! Prague also had some sort of music and dance folklore festival on, so the streets were full of people in processions and there were stages for music all over.



When I got back to the hostel that afternoon, the hosts were preparing to take everyone out on a pub crawl – “great!”.... I thought! I forgot that people in central Europe call nightclubs ‘pubs’!!! Bollocks!! The first place we were taken to was some strange underground (again) room, where you have to do that strange ‘shoes are stuck to the grimy floor’ dance when you can’t move your feet! For Nantwich’ers, it was WAY worse than going to Greggs! ☹ I was actually quite annoyed to be damaging my 99p George flip flops!.....(and yes I went out in flip flops!)



Even when I was a lot younger, I have never seen the attraction in going to shitty nightclubs. I can only describe the music at this club as, the type of noise you hear when you play on the crane machines at arcades, but layered with the brain addling vocal (dis)abilities of two sweaty tattooed middle aged Czech rappers! It was horrendous!... I had to go outside or I would’ve had to poke my eardrums out with the sharp end of my hair comb! ….You can tell I thought a lot about this!



I gave it another chance and went with the group to a second place, but this was only partially better than the first because it was air conditioned. Yep! That was the best thing about the whole place! Owing to the fact that I would quite possibly rather scratch warts off a rhino’s bollock than stay at that club, I took myself off to take some pictures of the cathedral in the square which was nicely lit up at night time, before heading to bed…..like the granny I am!



The next day I took another walking tour of the main sights of the city, with a guide who was half Czech and half Canadian. She explained a tonne of history about the city, and I wish I could remember half of what she said… but she did say a few things which I remembered.



One of the points was that, historically, Sweden invaded Czechoslovakia. On their arrival, they saw that the people they intended to fight had already been killed through another invasion, so the Swedes looted the cathedral for the jewels and antiques and took them back to Sweden where they remain today. Even though this was hundreds of years ago, if someone in Prague says they have lost or can’t find something, it is a common phrase that the Czechs will say ‘The Swedes probably took it’.



Also, in the 90s, the Rolling Stones were due to perform in Prague, and they invited the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, to attend. Mick Jagger apparently became good friends with the President and asked him why they didn’t light up their beautiful castle at night. On hearing that the President could not afford to light the castle, Mick Jagger said, ‘This one’s on me!’ and paid thousands for lights to be installed. The people of Czechia now always prefer the Stones over the Beatles, because (and I quote!!) ….. the Beatles didn’t light shit!



The tour then took us on to the Jewish Quarter of the city, where there is also the Jewish cemetery. Even before the war the Jews were confined to a very small area of the city, and weren’t allowed to live outside of this. It is against the Jewish religion to cremate the dead, so the Jews apparently requested more land from the rulers of the country at that time for cemetery space. The rulers refused and said they could not have any more land, but could have more soil, so the dead are buried 12 deep in that cemetery and there are thousands of headstones cramped together.



I was also surprised to learn that, the communist rule pretty much wiped out religion in Prague, and even after the velvet revolution (apparently called so because it was so smooth and peaceful) which ended the communist rule, 88% of the population of Prague are still atheist or agnostic. It seems strange to see so many churches which must hardly ever be used!



The last night at the hostel there was a party for all the guests were you pay 10 euros for a load of traditional Czech food and all you can drink beer and wine. I had some goulash and dumplings, which were delicious, and also some chicken schnitzel with roasted pears wrapped in bacon! (this part of the blog entry is really just a reminder for me so I can learn to make this stuff when I get home!)



I was a little sad to leave Prague for the night train to Poland, as I had met some great new people, and even though I had seen all the main sights, there is so much more of the city to see. It is very original and quirky and you could easily spend a week there just roaming around.



Poland has some big boots to fill!!


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