Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Prague, Czech Republic—Day 137

Today we decided to go on a day trip to Karlstejn Castle, which was built by Charles IV in the 14th C and was the storehouse for the crown jewels and holy relics for the Holy Roman Empire. We took a train from the Prague train station and got off, along with all of the other tourists, and had to walk quite a ways to get from the train station to the town. But first we had to ask for the help of a couple who were also visiting the castle with their young daughter. We needed a pen knife because I, being ever so clever, managed to not only lock Sarah’s backpack together, but managed to change the combination in process, so her bag containing my camera and wallet, was locked together. Perfect for keeping others out, but not for letting me in.

So luckily they had one and we were able to cut the ties to the backpack and open it up again. Wouldn’t that just be my luck?

We walked up this cute little (touristy) street up to the castle. It was quite the walk and was warming up. Sarah stopped to get her photo taken holding an owl while I laughed at snapped away on her camera. We made it up to the top to the castle entrance and had to wait while the employees had their lunch break. Only in the Czech Republic.

At 12:50pm, the ticket booth opened and we bought our tickets for our English tour. We waited with a large group of people, including some very annoying Canadian girls, and finally were let in. The tour was very informative and interesting. The castle itself is very stunning and set upon a beautiful hill overlooking a valley, surrounded by a forest. Not a bad place to rule over the empire, eh?

After the tour we walked down a little mountain trail near the castle into the forest, not really knowing where we were going. We got down to the bottom and were stopped by a group of school children some of which were dressed in medieval costumes. We had to pass by them to get across this bridge and several of them stopped in our way and said some things to us in Czech, probably pretending to actually be the guards of the bridge. Whatever they said, the others laughed and we just kept walking. Sarah’s keen sense of direction led us the wrong way but we ended up finding a cute pub for lunch.

Luckily my sense of direction took us back in the direction that we needed and after lunch we walked back to the town where we perused the shops for a bit and then walked back to the train station to get a train back to Prague.

It was quite a fuss determining which platform to stand on to go back to Prague. Not for us, but for all of the other tourists around us, including those dang Canadian girls. We knew that we were in the rights spot but for the sake of it, Sarah went to go check. But we were right and soon thereafter a train pulled up to take us back to Prague.

We got back to Prague and took a subway train back to the Old Town center where we had just about an hour to walk through the Old Jewish Quarter and see the stunning Jewish Cemetery and synagogues. It was amazing. Afterwards we walked around a bit more and had dinner at a great place called Klub Architeck which was in an old, 12th C underground wine cellar.

Dinner was great and afterwards we thought we would continue the festivities of our last night in Prague by going out on the town. We ended up at this local bar with a very sketchy man sitting next to us and waaaaay too much beer for us to handle, or to drink quickly and then leave. Lesson learned: when the bartender asks if you want a “big” beer or a “small” beer, you should always, always go for the small. The big ones that we ordered turned out to be one full liter of beer, which is quite a bit when you are trying to make a quick exit.

We finally made our escape (we drew the line when sketchy man reached over and literally POKED me) and made it back to our hotel, safe and sound. Oh Prague.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.