Thursday, March 19, 2015

Prague (aka the weekend with no sleep)

I guess I should have titled that post, "the first of many weekends with no sleep." I will be traveling 5 out of the next 6 weekends (the weekend I'm not traveling is my birthday!) so sleep isn't going to be a priority. After all, who needs sleep when there are things like overnight buses that let you wake up in a new city?

This past weekend was my initiation into not really sleeping, as we headed to Prague on another trip with the school's international network. I've raved about school trips before, which is weird because before this I hated anything involving a huge group. Museum trips, outings, anything like that, so the idea of heading to a foreign country with a huge group seemed terrible. I hate being coralled around with unruly kids, but considering everyone signed up for this trip because they wanted to visit Prague was reassuring. Besides, the Holland weekend changed my mind, and considering the trip didn't involve any planning on my part, I was pumped to see Prague.

The scary thing is, we signed up for this trip in February, which seems like a lifetime ago, and I kept thinking, "Oh, Prague is in the middle of March, that's so far away." Welp, now I'm home from Prague and I've realized that I am halfway done with my semester...whoa.

We left Amsterdam Thursday night (after my roommate and I rushed home from our dance class, showered, changed, and threw a few more things into our suitcase before heading out), and I was not excited about the prospect of being on a bus for nearly 12 hours. However, everyone settled down and fell asleep, including myself- and I never fall asleep on planes, buses, etc. It's nearly impossible, but when you're stuck somewhere until 9 am the next morning you might as well try!

We arrived in Prague early Friday morning, dropped our things off at the hostel, and immediately hit the road. We started off with seeing the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square, which puts on a 'show' every hour. We were already warned that this was an overrated tourist attraction, so it didn't disappoint us too badly- basically the clock starts chiming and a few tiny figures emerge, some things move, and then it's over. I suppose its worth seeing since Prague doesn't have as many famous sites as other cities, but don't rearrange your day around it.

Side note: Julia just walked in and when I said I was blogging about Prague, she said, "Oh, you're Prague-ing" and if that is not the best thing you've heard all day we can't be friends (but you should still totally read the blog). Anyway, I promised I would fit it into this post somehow. Back to pictures of Prague!

The less-than-exciting clock tower.

Trdelník, aka my new love. Basically it's dough wrapped around a cylinder that's toasted over an open fireplace, coated in cinnamon and sugar and, if you so desire, the hollow center is smothered in Nutella. I may or may not have had 3 of them during our 3 day trip....

While some of the trams look brand-new, some look like this and are most likely left over from the Soviet era. 

The Charles Bridge from a distance. This is one of the most famous sites in Prague, and leads you across the river to the Castle Complex, which is the largest in the world! Because the complex, which consists of the castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, a few government buildings and a monastery, took so long to complete, every part of it looks different because they were built in varying eras.

The big buildings up on the hill are part of the castle complex. 

So many of the buildings in Prague are painted in pastel colors, making it look like a fairytale!

The John Lennon Wall, a photo op for any tourist in Prague. This was used during the 1980s when students and young people were protesting Soviet rule. Inspired by The Beatles and other Western musicians, they would come to the wall to paint their protests and decorate it with art. It changes nearly daily as people continuously come to graffiti the wall. 

The view from the top. Climbing the stairs to the complex makes you feel a little out of shape but it's totally worth it. 

The changing of the guard.

The Monastery Library; unfortunately you cannot go inside, you can only stand in the doorway of the rooms and look inside, but it's totally worth it. 

St. Vitus Cathedral. Part of the cathedral is unfinished (see the blank circles in front?) because they ran out of money just before completion!

Yep, I love Prague...

The Charles Bridge at night. 

For our last day in Prague, we had pretty much exhausted everything there is to see; Prague is lovely to visit for a weekend but I don't think I would want to study abroad there, as there doesn't seem to be too many sites. Obviously you discover more once you live somewhere, but you can feel accomplished as if you've done everything in just a couple of days.

But, we still wanted to climb to the top of the astronomical clock (yeah, that one). Now, I don't really have a fear of heights. I do, however, have a HUGE fear of falling from high places, so being near the edge freaks me out. Balconies are usually fine, but anything glass-bottomed is a no-go.

I've climbed the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and you stand on a massive roof when you reach the top, so I figured I'd be fine climbing the tower. Little did I know that when you reach the top, there is a large indoor room, and when you go outside, you are standing on a very narrow (think 2 feet wide at most) walkway that wraps around the tower, with a barely-to-my-waist stone balcony blocking you from falling. NOT what I was expecting. However, it provided probably the most amazing 360 degree view of the city that you could ask for, so I stuck it out for the photo op because hey, a blogger's gotta do what a blogger's gotta do.

Once I had taken a few photos and spent a total of about a minute hugging (read: clinging to) the wall to be as far from the edge as possible, I quickly made my way back inside. I don't need photos of every single angle, it's better to just enjoy it, right?

I didn't know what to expect from Prague- it was one of those cities that I wanted to visit but if I had not gone on the trip with my fellow international students, I really don't think I would have made it to Prague. But I'm so glad I did, because this quaint little Eastern European city really stole our hearts. While I feel like I've done all the sites, I'd love to return to Prague someday!

I've got lots of exciting trips planned so stay tuned for more posts!

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