Day 13: Czech Please!

So today we travel east to Prague, home to apparently good beer that is cheaper than water. I guess I will have to see and taste for myself. I will finally. Get to ride the Eurail train system which I will get quite familiar with over the next several weeks. We got to the train station with plenty of time to spare. After sitting down for awhile and with the train set to arrive in 10 minutes and depart shortly after, my dad realized we had yet to verify our passes. In a state of panic and frenzy, we climbed the three levels necessary to find the information desk and complete the process. Fortunately the train had not yet left. The five hours of sitting on the train was not something I was used to but I was not about to complain. When I was not in and out of sleep, I found some of the most beautiful hillsides I have ever seen just outside my window. Although the towns on the way to Prague were tiny, each one had that rustic feel to them and one could only imagine pure peace away from all the noise and excitement of the big city. Upon arrival in Prague we had to find a hostel for the next few days. The nights in London, Paris, and Berlin were booked at least several days in advance but after having issues with the Hostelworld booking site we were forced to roll the dice and hope a decent bed was available. I had my crosshairs focused on the Old Prague Hostel, where the guys from Florida were staying. Despite the confusing spellings of the Czech streets and a mess of a map as far as public transportation goes, I inched closer to the target. Being such a foodie, I was looking into an authentic Czech restaurant when all of sudden a sign on the window popped up highlighting the exact location of the hostel. My appetite somehow saved me, haha. We got to the reception and unearthed the horrible news that it was in fact booked. Devastated and unsure where to turn next, we meandered the streets and stumbled into a nearby hostel that to my father’s chagrin wound up only having a 12 person dorm room. By luck or rather by my demand, we ended up at the restaurant that had the sign posting for the hostel. All the rumors, myths, gossip, and legends are true, Czech beer is dirt cheap and even the food for that matter. After getting essentially pick-pocketed by Paris herself, Prague turned out to be a much kinder host. The food surpassed its price; with a creamy soup of cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes and sausage being my highlight. Let me not forget one of the best baked salmons my mouth has ever laid its tastebuds on with a creamy pesto sauce to boot. The meal had Michelin star quality with diner prices; I feel welcomed already. When we finished eating I laughed to myself over the irony that we would be asking for the check from a Czech. From there, I wanted to walk the main parts of Prague to get a taste of what we would be seeing over the next couple days. The first stop was the town hall with the astronomical tower that looks ancient and has 24 hours listed in Roman numerals around the edge of the circle. Supposedly on the hour the clock provides a show with a moving skeleton that looks like Death and other figures playing a part. On the way to Prague castle, we journeyed over the famous Charles Bridge that runs over the Vlatva River, which divides the city. With each step, I could tell I was walking on history with famous citizens and kings remembered by statues adorned along the edges of the bridge. The long way up to Prague castle may have left us regretting each step except the last because the top offered a view of the entire city. Views atop the Eiffel Tower, St. Paul’s cathedral, and the Reichstag building allowed one to see a great deal of some of the most popular cities to travel to on a holiday but this view tops them all (believe me when I say I am not exaggerating and that I have fallen hard for Prague, even though we have yet to be here for a full day). The tour of the castle and the complex within will be saved for tomorrow but we got an opportunity to see Golden Lane, which is a small narrow street within the castle walls. What makes this street special is the feeling that you have arrived in munchkin land or the Shire (whatever you prefer) because the houses are so tiny and have such bright colors and do not lack variety. After getting back to the hostel I think I can say today was a success. I look forward to tomorrow to finally wear some fresh clothes after sending them to the laundry for the night.

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