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Published: January 8th 2012
On arrival in Prague, I was unaware I was about to experience the worst hostel I have ever stayed in. Arcapay is awful. The receptionist was rude and uninformative, the room stank of damp, the bed was rock hard, it was so far out of town and there was one shower for every 3 dorms. Urgghhhh. Anyway! After dropping my stuff off I headed back to the metro station to go check out the old town. Steph had come to Prague yesterday so we arranged to meet at the free walking tour by the town hall. This tour was led by an enthusiastic American guy. I was cynical as he was obviously not a native Czech, but he was surprisingly knowledgable and very entertaining.
He took past the main sights on that side of the Charles Bridge, taking in Powder Tower, dating from 1475, which was built as one of 13 gates to the city of Prague. When construction began, it was connected (via the small bridge at the right of the photo) to the royal palace. Before construction was completed, however, King Vladislav Jagellonský moved his residence to the House at the Stone Bell which was built for the
royal family, especially for Elizabeth I of Bohemia (the mother of Charles IV), and that it hosted even Charles IV himself. One of its later owners was Augustin Forster who was executed for conspiracy and city betrayal at the very door-step of this house. The formally Gothic house was rebuilt into Baroque and later on into Neo-Baroque style. Many gothic fragments were chipped and used as a construction material again. A large and difficult reconstruction in the 1980s return the Gothic image to the house. The name for the House At The Stone Bell appeared for the first time in 1413. As the name suggests, it was called after a stone bell, whose replica is placed at the corner of the house. According to a legend, the bell was placed there after it had fallen from the Of Our Lady Before The Tyn in the Old Town Square. We then moved onto the Jewish quarter into which over the centuries more and more people were crowded, as Jews were banned from living anywhere else. Restrictions on their movements and the trades they were allowed to conduct underwent constant change.
After the tour, me, Steph and another Aussie whose name
I can't think of went to find some traditional Czech food. I had the potato and meat dumplings and spinach. It was OK but not the best food of my tour of Europe! We then made our way to Charles Bridge but my feet were cut to shreds so I needed to go and buy some new shoes - pronto! Luckily, Prague is not short of amazing shopping, so it wasn't long before I had some more suitable footwear that wasn't cutting into my foot. We crossed Charles Bridge and took wander up to the Castle.
Now there's a lot to this castle - lots of different sections so I regret not doing a tour - only because I didn't really know what I was looking at. I didn't know which part was castle and which part was, say, cathedral. It was still rather lovely though, and there's a fantastic lookout spot where you can get a panoramic view of Prague.
We ambled back down and saw the Lennon Wall, a bridge with the famous love locks and the narrowest street in Prague, complete with a set of traffic lights! We had planned to meet up again later
in the evening to go for drinks and party, but we had to go back to our hostels first - mine being that awful one miles out of town! I got the metro back and quickly got changed, asked for directions back to town by tram and got 2 different sets of directions from 2 members of staff there. Disconcerting, but I thought to myself, how hard can it be?
Very hard - it turns out. I ended up getting the tram in the completely wrong direction (from the stop the girl TOLD me to get it at), being stranded at a deserted bus station with a group of disgusting leching men leering over me. Furious is not the word. When I did finally get the tram back the right way to the stop I was told to get off at to change, I was told by someone else waiting that I'd have to get the metro from here. Well why didn't I just get the bloody metro from where my hostel is then if that's the case? I was over an hour and a half late to meet the guys and they were nowhere to be seen so
needless to say I was pretty damn angry at my hostels' staff - for giving me misleading information, for putting me in a dangerous situation, for causing me to be late to meet everyone. I decided to walk back to the hostel along the river after the palava with the trams/metro etc and was ready for a show-down with the staff - which I certainly had.
The following morning I made the most of the free breakfast (a piece of bread and a cuppa) and free internet before heading to Hostel Orange. I made use of the tram ticket that I had got away with not using last night. (Brave move as I hear of loads of people getting caught out without valid tickets on the public transport system here). Orange was like a palace in comparison - plus cheaper and in an amazingly central location!!
I decided to take it easy on Day 2. I did a bit of shopping bought a few pairs of shoes as the ones I had were falling apart toe post by toe post; a top and a cardi. I spent the rest of the day online and eagerly awaiting my night
out at Central Europe's biggest nightclub. I went with CJ - a Californian from the hostel and a Canadian guy. The club was 5 stories high but only 3 were open. I think my expectations were a little too high! Full of kids! :/ En route back to the hostel I witnessed a bloke performing a 'snot rocket'. Lovely.
On Day 3 I nursed my hangover together with an oncoming cold. Battling with constant sneezing and watery snot dribbling uncontrollably out of my nose all day was not fun. I had a very early night as my train to Berlin was at about 03:00 in the morning!
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