Friday, February 11, 2011

A Trip to Prague

Sooo...Sorry about this very very late posting. My school schedule has been absolutely murderous lately, and I've literally had no time to even think about things other than school, much less be able to participate in any activities that could be described as "fun". However, I'm procrastinating from doing some of my homework in order to provide my two (or is it three now?) readers with something entertaining (at least to me) to read. So now, I shall now impart the story of one of my trips while I was abroad. 

Prague is officially known as Bohemia. So, really, it's
no surprise there's art like this there...
My trip to Prague is one of the best experiences despite really crappy circumstances of my life. This was the first big trip that my close inner circle of friends (except for one) would all be able to go on together. We booked our flight and hostel a month in advance. We planned to spend 5 full days there, in order to get the full experience of Prague, and since we were on break from school, the timing couldn't be better.

The night before we were supposed to fly out, I had a minor...something on the bus on the way home from hanging out with my friends. All I know is that I suddenly got extremely hot (keep in mind it was mid-March in Germany: there was snow on the ground and it was well below freezing), and my vision faded into this dark fuzziness. This lasted for what seemed an eternity (though in actuality must have been less than a minute), and then, just as suddenly, it completely disappeared and I felt fine again. I brushed it off, went to my room, packed, and went to sleep.

I woke up at around 6am with an urgent need to vomit, and the most familiar feeling of fever chills. Fortunately, we didn't have to leave for the airport until the afternoon, so I slept on and off the rest of the morning. When the time came for me to head to the airport, I was still feeling very sick. I forced myself to get up, get dressed, and go to the bus stop. I was running late, and almost missed the shuttle. Fortunately my friends were looking out for me and made sure the bus didn't leave without me. I don't remember the ride to the airport, nor the actual flight (except for this one moment where I looked out the window and it looked like we were in a Star Wars-esque warp drive thanks to the snowfall). I remember landing, and having to walk all over the airport because we had to wait for 20 years on a bus (it really did feel like that long, I swear). I was still feeling the fever chills and the general miserableness (fortunately, I didn't feel nauseous again). While we were waiting, we decided to go withdraw money from an ATM (we'd discovered that the easiest way to exchange money while losing the least amount through profit-seekers was to just directly pull from our American bank accounts through various ATMs), only to discover that my card didn't work in any of the ATMs at the airport. We figured it just didn't like my one card, so we didn't think anything of it.

View of the (what we called) "The Wall of Souls" from
the castle.
 Finally, our bus arrived, which delivered us to the subway station. From there, we had to guess which direction was the right one (the signs were notoriously ambiguous, and we argued for a long time on which way the signs were supposed to be read). Unfortunately, we picked wrong. Fortunately, we were at the end of the line, so it just went around and we were suddenly going the right direction again. At this point, all I can remember is that the subway ride would never ever end. My friends wouldn't let me fall asleep, either, which I thought was especially cruel of them. When we arrived at our designated station, we suddenly realized that the street signs weren't easily seen nor read, so we had no idea where we were really supposed to go. Fortunately, a very nice British lady who happened to live in Prague heard our confused arguments about which way we should go and took pity on us, and kindly directed us to the proper street where our hostel was.

View of Prague from the castle.
It was by far not the nicest hostel I've ever stayed at, but for the price, we couldn't really complain. The six of us got our own room to ourselves. We quickly all picked our beds for the week, and I plopped in mine and fell asleep, despite the fact that it was only 9pm or so. I was fortunate to sleep through the night, but I remember being so cold and that whatever my dreams were, they were the deranged fever dreams of someone who probably shouldn't have traveled.

Yep. 'Tis art.
I woke up the next day still feeling feverish, but not quite as dead as the day before. We got dressed, and made our first venture into Prague. I was still feeling out of it, so I missed most of the picture taking opportunities that day. It was also this day that we discovered that our good friend Kenny has a very serious coffee addiction. On our way to breakfast, we had to stop at coffee shop so Kenny could drink coffee while we walked to another bakery, where he also had another cup of coffee. The poor guy didn't hear the end of it for the rest of the trip. We also saw the astronomical clock tower, and generally acquainted ourselves with the city. We decided that for dinner we should have...Thai food. What better way to get a taste for the Czech culture, right? After that, my friends headed to an absinthe bar, and I went back to the hostel to collapse. The day had been very long and I literally had no energy left.

Imagine seeing this when you aren't
expecting it. It's just a great big bowl of
I woke up the next day drenched in sweat and full of energy. At last, whatever had descended upon me had finally decided to relinquish its grip. I walked out into the city with a spring in my step, and actually looked at my surroundings. I was in a place that had so much history, and such beautiful architecture. We went up to the castle, and there I saw the most beautiful church I've ever seen in my life. I'm not religious by any means, but the architecture was so vast and so intricate, it literally made me well up a little bit. Unfortunately, none of the pictures really do it justice, so I just sound a bit crazy. We spent most of the day exploring the castle grounds (it was a lot more expansive than we originally thought).

Legit fountain in Prague.
 Towards the evening time, we headed back to the riverside and went to the Kafka Museum. There we saw what I consider to be one of the most amusing fountains I've ever seen in my life: 2 men peeing into the  fountain, and their hips move to the left and right and their penises move up and down (please youtube this to get the full effect). The inside of the museum was awesome, but pretty creepy. I imagine that if you've actually read Kafka's works, you'd get all the little jokes they put in. The philosopher in our group (Chris) looked like he was in heaven, but our online gamer friend (Josh, otherwise self-nicknamed Jooshwah) basically trolled the whole time. I had the most fun watching Chris trying to get Josh to comprehend and absorb the culture of the museum.

Prague castle and Charles Bridge at night.
We spent most of our time walking. We never once took public transit once we were in the city proper (and then, the only time we ever actually rode a bus or subway was to get to and from the airport). We walked along the famous Charles Bridge, we wandered to and from the main city square, and we explored the back alleyways where you got to see a glimpse of what real Prague looked like. It was truly the best way to see the city, because you got to experience as well as sight-see. One of the most harrowing experiences was getting to see an actual Jewish ghetto. My main regret (besides Josh making very loud racist Jew jokes) was that I didn't take the Jewish experience class until after I got back from Germany. If I'd taken it before, then maybe I'd been better able to appreciate what I was really seeing. Also, I'd imagine being completely healthy would have also helped that.

Not really all that big.
Also, remember how I said that the ATMs at the airport wouldn't take my card? Turns out, that was a nation-wide dilemma. Fortunately, I had the sense to bring some emergency Euros just in case something like that happened, and I was able to survive the entire time on less than 50 Euros (of course, being sick for part of the time really helped cut down food costs as well).

Prague playground.
Our last day in Prague we decided to go on an adventure. We'd seen this tower thing on one of the mountain-sides the entire time we were there, and we decided to go see what it was all about. As it turned out, it was the Eiffel Tower of Prague (yes, that's the actual name). They wanted a ridiculous amount of money to go up to the top (which in all honesty wasn't that high), and since we were all broke college students, we decided to just "ooh" and "aah" from the ground. The grounds surrounding the tower, however, were much more fun. We found a playground, and since Ashley and I are both 5 at heart, we both decided to play on it. It's a lot different from today's American playgrounds; there were actually fun things to play on. 

Ashley "preggers" with Beverly Joe...
Finally, after five days of exploring and playing around, it was time to return back to Germany. We gathered our things from the hostel, and figured out how to get back to the airport without getting lost. We made it through security, and were waiting for our plane to arrive, when Ashley all of a sudden realized that she had too much stuff (if you've ever traveled Ryanair, you'll know all about this problem. For those of you who haven't: You're only allowed one carry-on item. That's all. Anything more, and you have to pay a €35 fee to check your bag. All in all, not fun.). So, her primary solution was to suddenly become about 6 months pregnant with little "Beverly Joe". With that solution, we were on our way.

When we arrived, Ashley and I waved goodbye to our friends as they returned to Heidelberg. However, our adventure still wasn't over. We took a bus to another airport, and spent the night there. We had an early morning flight to Amsterdam so we could see Epica again...

I really wish I could remember everything we did while we were in Prague. Unfortunately, I'm writing this up a year after it happened, and even then I was in a fever haze for part of the trip, so some of the details are fuzzy. Other things I've deliberately left out (such as playing truth or dare one night in our room. Trust me, some things are better off left alone). 

I'm so sorry for putting this out so late!!! I've literally been writing this post for two weeks now. I'm just so completely swamped with everything lately that I have no time to do anything fun. Hopefully I'll start being able to post more often soon. Till next time!!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Nina! Enjoyed reading about your journey (even though it was from the viewpoint of a feverish fog). Glad you got to enjoy some of your time in Prague. Can't wait to read your next post!

    ~Melanie Cheekie