Day 14: A Jewish Cemetery, Prague Castle, and An Albino Peacock

Since it has been a little while that I have started a blog post about food, I figured why not today. I am not sure if this is how most Czechs start there day, but we somehow had a free buffet of soup similar to fagioli, deli meat, bread, salad, eggs, yogurt, and granola. Prague just keeps getting better and better, haha. Enough about food and back to the sightseeing. For a sobering and thought provoking start to the day we headed to then Jewish ghetto. At one point, Czechoslovakia had one of the largest populations of Jews in the world. One of the two most memorable, if you can call it that, in this neighborhood was the museum with walls covered ceiling to floor with the names, birth dates, and days of death for over 80,000 Czech Jews that were exterminated by the Nazis at either nearby Terezin concentration camp or Auschwitz. If that wasn’t sad enough, on the second floor the museum had paintings drawn by the children at Terezin before they were transported to Auschwitz. Some paintings showed levity as if the children were unaware of their circumstances and contained many bright colors and joyful moments while revealed the awful existence in which there were forced to live. One painting in particular had a man being hanged in what appeared to be the main square of Terezin. If you are unfamiliar with Terezin, it is a concentration camp set up by the Nazis for easy access to transplant Jews from nearby Prague. Also, this camp was used for propaganda to promote the world image to especially the Red Cross that the Jews were being taken care of and living in ideal conditions for “an inferior race”. Near this museum sits a Jewish cemetery that has over 12000 gravestones and more than 100,000 buried in at most a 1 acre lot. As you can imagine this is not enough space to fit that many headstones, which is why they are literally piled on top of each other 10 layers deep. The stones are so clustered it would be nearly impossibly to walk through the cemetery besides the one path we were on. After being mentally drained from those sights, we marched toward the astronomical clock tower. We ascended this tower to get a new perspective of this gorgeous city with buildings as far as the eye can see covered with light reddish brown clay roofs. Atop the northwestern most hilltop stood the Prague castle with St. Vitus Cathedral inside calling our names to enter thorough the castle walls. Once again we took the long route up to the castle by crossing the historic Charles bridge. The hill was a bear but worth every step, creaky knee, and sore toe to find ourselves within the castle. The cathedral from the outside could not be more inviting with its extensive array of buttresses and thorough aging. Beauty that could be on par with any cathedral I have seen thus far resided within some of the most ornate stained glass windows and long narrow path to the altar that reminds of those found in England. A basilica within the complex had a skeleton and other bones stored below a side chapel altar. Before working our way back to the other side of the river we got some Czech grub to reinvigorate our depleting energy. I got beef goulash lathered with a generous sauce and potato croquettes which are tiny balls of potatoes fried up nice and crispy just the way my arteries wanted. Obviously I had to get a beer when the Czechs are practically giving them away. Thus far, the beer in Prague has been light and refreshing but lacking flavor ala bud light (sorry to all you bud lovers but that just isn’t beer). Just because I wanted something a little sweet we were seduced by the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg into a gingerbread museum, a cute little shop with cookies and houses (not a bad way to finish a meal). With a little bit of time left before most sights closed we raced toward a park that supposedly had peacocks freely walking around. After getting lost we finally encountered the peacocks I was promised. The park was a sort of random detour but kind of neat to see an albino peacock among the flock. Since the thought of sitting down was too powerful we chose to relax at the hostel. My dad and I ended up chatting to some guys from England for a while before they headed off to a pub called the beer museum. While winding down I kept thinking how, despite my love Prague and our plans to stay an extra night here, I had seen everything I had wanted to see. I decided we should leave for Munich tomorrow. With that decision behind me, my dad and I went to the beer museum, which had 30 Czech beers on tap. Finally, I could have a beer with some bold and rich flavor. I saw the guys from England down the way and went to talk. I may have left my dad for a little while but after chatting with the group of the, a couple went down the bar to chat him up. Even though we are both English speaking, the phrasing is massively different and other cultural differences stunned me (a separate will include these differences). All of us ended up staying out even though the train was departing early that next morning. Having just started talking to them in the hostel, someone could have walked by and figured we were all best mates for awhile. It’s amazing meeting all these great unique people but a putty that we have to go on our separate ways but more good people and opportunities await around ever corner.

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