Well, this weekend was crazy....so many things went wrong, it was insane....but fun! Prague (Praha) is a beautiful city (practically untouched by WW2) and so, so cheap! I went with 12 other people, and that was just one of the groups that went! I traveled with Crystal, lindsay, kara, stephanie, joy, sarah H., brad, allison, scott, tiffany, kim, and matt L. We left thurs. night around 10.
First, while at a pub, chilling before our train left, crystal realized she'd forgotten her german rail and had to walk 2 miles back to get it. then, we were supposed to meet kara there, but she never showed up. turns out, she'd been at the train station when she realized she'd forgotten her german rail, took a taxi back to get it, but got to the station like 2 min. late. she ended up finding another train and evantually transfered to our train, to the compartment right next to us, but we didn't know it till we all got off together in prague!
Meanwhile, 5 minutes after getting on the first train, joy realizes she doesn't have her railpass either and ends up having to buy an actual ticket when we changed trains an hour later. then, during our layover in the next station, scott realizes that he'd left his very expensive camera at dinner. (luckily someone picked it up and he has it now!)
We got to prague at 8:15 in the morning and it took us quite awhile to figure out where we were going, but we finally got to our pension around 10ish. then we split off and scott, tiffany, crystal and i went to the old jewish quarter in Old Town. it's the oldest jewish settlement in europe. they had a number of synagogues there with museums inside that we looked at. One had a collection of jewish art and religious artifacts that hitler had collected during the war to have as an exhibit on an extinct race...pretty eerie huh! There was also a very, very old cemetery that was really neat. it has several layers of graves and the gravestones all kind of run into each other. the last synagogue we went into had a memorial to the holocaust victims in prague and the nearby areas. in the synagogue were several rooms and the walls of these rooms were covered with names, written in tiny print....80,000 names of jews from prague and nearby that were killed in the holocaust. it was the most moving moment i've had yet on this trip, more so than even dachau. to walk into room after room of just thousands upon thousands of names written in tiny letters was overwhelming and brought tears to my eyes. then, upstairs they had a collection of artwork, drawings, etc. that the children had done while in the ghetto before being taken to the extermination camps. it was very eye-opening to see the children's perspective on everything that was happening.
well, i mentioned prague was cheap....yeah, i had a foot-long sandwich for lunch for about 30 cents!
next, we went up a church tower that had a neat view of the city and then went to Charles Bridge, which prague is famous for. It's huge, like 1000 years old, and covered with tourists! also, a big scene from the first mission impossible movie was filmed on it....remember when the bad guy fakes his death by falling off a bridge and tom cruise runs up on it then!
scott and i lost the girls then, so we went up to the castle which looked more like a palace, and inside the cathedral and up 268 winding stairs to the top where there was a great view of the bridge and surrounding city!
For dinner, we went to this restaurant called Cafe Louvre where i had:
duck (pretty cool huh....it was really good, but no, it didn't taste like chicken!),
potatoes, cooked vegetables, a generous glass of white wine, Havana desert (chocolate and coffee ice-cream with whip cream, caramel, and egg liceur), and banana coffee (don't ask...i just had to try it!)...all of the above for under 7 dollars! unbelievable huh?!
after dinner, a few of us walked on the bridge, which was beautiful in the dark, with the lights! then, we went to this club called roxy. it was my first time finally going to a real european club and it was awesome! it was underground in what used to be a movie theatre, and they played techno music, but it was fun cuz you could just dance however you wanted, and it went with the beat. everyone was just having fun! when we first got there, we headed to the bar, and some of the girls and i tried the other thing that prague is famous for....absynthe. it's a type of hard alcohol that's illegal in all but 3 countries because they think extensive use of it made people crazy back in the day. anyway, it's this cool blue color, and you take a spoonful of sugar, dip it in the absynthe, light it on fire, burn it till the sugar caramelizes, then stir it back in and down it. yeah, it burned and you could feel it's effects within minutes...it was wild. (note to family....don't freak out...i am not becoming an alcoholic or even drinking that much for that matter, but it was just one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you try just for the experience of it!)
the next day was shopping day! prague is also known for it's bohemian crystal which is beautiful and cheap! there are literally hundreds of crystal stores! i got myself a 6-piece set of tall, crystal wine glasses that had a flower design engraved on them for only 17 dollars! i'm really excited about them! i also got 3 sweaters for like $20...total!
now for the drama going back!
our train was supposed to leave at 3:31 in the afternoon on sat., becuase we had to be back in heidelberg before 3AM when all our german railpasses expired. 3:31 train was supposed to get there at 11:45 at night, so we thought we had plenty of leeway time
when we got to the station, we couldn't find our train and finally found out that it was leaving from another, smaller station. we were told to take the metro there, walked a block to what we thought was the metro, realized we had to buy the tickets back at the station, sent kelly coe sprinting back to the station to buy ticikets. then, after he left, we realized we were at the bus stop and the metro must be back inside the train station! we walked quickly back, ran into kelly running out, who'd actually gotten metro tickets, ran down to the metro just as our tram left. 7 minutes later, another one came and we rode it for 3 stops, then literally sprinted off it looking for our train. it was a tiny station but the tracks were nowhere to be found. luckily some nice guy who spoke english pointed us in the right direction...they were off in the distance outside up some stairs. so, we all took off....we looked absolutely ridiculous running with our big backpacks bouncing up and down and carrying all our shopping bags...i thought i was gonna die. but, we made it on the train! well, that train ends up getting delayed 20 minutes for some reason, so we miss our next train at dresden, cuz we were only gonna have a 7 minute layover and it'd left long before we got there. which meant there was no way for us to make it back by 3! we found a train that was gonna leave 3 hours later, and a lady wrote us out a voucher to show to the conductor and hope it worked. a few of us wandered around the city a little and stumbled upon a university with massive dorms!
we rode that train for like 7 hours....another night sleeping on the floor of a compartment! then switched trains again...rode for 2 1/2 hours when kara realized that she'd lost her passport and railpass somewhere. (a conductor ended up calling the other train and they found it and she goes to pick it up tomorow) finally we took one more train for 10 minutes, and made it back to heidelberg a little after 9AM on sunday. it'd taken us 18 hours to get back from prague...double what it should have!
all in all, it was an exciting, while somewhat ridiculous weekend!