Sunday, February 21, 2016

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic ranks right up there with Paris, Rome, London, and Berlin for the MAJOR must-see's on the travel pages that I follow on Facebook, so I'm not really sure what has taken us so long to go there.  I guess I'll just go with... we've been waiting to save all of the bests for our last year in Europe!  Because Prague was certainly one of the bests, and I just can't admit that we might have skipped it without batting an eyelash because there are a lot of amazing places to visit and Prague just kept getting pushed further down on our list... because that is just too sad to admit to.

Prague is a simple five hour drive from where we live in Germany, so after arriving in the Czech Republic, but before we could fully settle into Prague, we jumped on a train headed for Kuntá Hora, 70km away, to see the Bone Church!  
At first I wasn't happy about having to leave Prague after we had just barely arrived, and I had only just barely gotten a glimpse of a city that I knew I was going to fall in love with, but it was important to me to go to Kuntá Hora, and once we walked into the church... I forgot all about the fact that leaving Prague was my idea in the first place, and the only person deserving to be grumpy with.... was me.

In the 13th century, the head monk of the Bone Church came back from a visit to Palestine with a pocket full of soil and sprinkled it on the cemetery surrounding the church.  Because of this now link to the Holy Land, many of Central Europe's aristocracy wanted to be buried in this cemetery.  As the years went on, the amount of people wanting to be buried there exceeded the amount of space they had, leaving the monks no choice but to exhume the older occupants and store their bones inside the church to make room.  

But when "storing" became "decorating," I have no idea....

Ummm... ew. 

The church is decorated with the real actual human bones of 40,000 people!  Normally, I would be pretty freaked out about being surrounded by tens of thousands of human bones, but honestly, it wasn't creepy at all!  I'm not exactly sure if the people the bones belonged to intended on being decorations for tourists to see for forever, but I felt like since they weren't using them, it wasn't creepy, just very cool!

We spent the majority of our first day in the Czech Republic in Kutná Hora and were not disappointed!  We were thankful to have seen a teeny bit more of the Czech Republic outside of it's most famous city, but Isabelle, Eric, & I were ready to get back to Prague to get started on exploring the city we've heard so much about in the 2 1/2, almost 3, years we've been living here.  And we were in the perfect location for exploring!  Our hotel was just 1,500 feet from Charles Bridge, and blocks away from the Astronomical Clock!  Our "triple" room was actually more of an apartment, with two separate rooms, two separate bathrooms, a kitchen, and the hotel offered a continental breakfast each morning in its Mediterranean restaurant, all for less than $200 U.S dollars for four days!

Man, I'll tell ya, If there is a place that wants Eric to fall in love with it, it's a place where he gets a bang for his buck!

The street our hotel was on.

For us to consider a trip to be great, all we need are twisty sidewalks, gorgeous architecture, sidewalk cafes, and wine bars every other block or so- and Prague had all of that!  We've toured so many castles, cathedrals, and museums that we've gotten bored with them.  Once you've seen some of the world's best castles, and some of the world's most famous cathedral's, you don't need to see any more.  That is the epitome of what they call a "champagne problem."  Or in other words, just being bratty.  I guess of all the problems life has handed Eric and I, I'll gladly accept one dipped in champagne every so often.  But it's true, we've gotten bored with castles, so instead, we spent our weekend wandering aimlessly doing our favorite things.... walking, people-watching, drinking, and eating!  
So if you don't want to see a whole lotta pictures of amazingly beautiful buildings, then you might want to just stop right here.  Because thanks to Eric's fitbit, we know that we logged 19.7 miles of walking in four days, and I took a picture of every single step our feet took!

Národní Galerie 

Babe made a friend. 

Eric is collecting Harley Davidson t-shirts from all over the world to make a giant quilt out of them someday.  He didn't start doing this until we went to Bucharest, Romania.  He has older Harley t-shirts from other cities in the States, but didn't start thinking about what he could do with them until we were in Bucharest, and now, he's on a mission to get t-shirts to make into a quilt that will serve as a giant map of all the places he's visited!  
Usually, we've scouted out where the Harley store is before we arrive in whatever city Eric decides he wants a t-shirt from, but for whatever reason we didn't even think about it for Prague!  So he was SO excited when we ran right smack into a Harley Davidson store as we wandered the Old Town!  

We try to acclimate as much as we can to each country that we visit, even though we do tend to stick to the most touristy of things that that country has to offer, but we try.  We like to stay for a few days, eat & drink authentic food, and interact with the people to get the best feel for that particular country.  In Prague, Isabelle wanted to try a trdelník (no idea how to pronounce that)- a traditional Eastern European sweet pastry.  We passed a number of different trdelník stands before she finally decided what she wanted- one with just cinnamon and sugar- it was bigger than she thought it would be, but tasted better than she thought, so she was thrilled!

And then we went for supper at U Fleků- the only microbrewery in Europe to operate continuously for more than 500 years!  U Fleků's beer was dark, it looked like Guinness (blech...shudder), but it tasted like a light beer and was actually really good!  So good that we had two beers each (except Isabelle, of course)!  But the Czech dumplings and the house schnapps that tasted like butterscotch were my personal favorites!  
We were seated in the Sál Staroceská Hall- it was a full house- and the lots of happy people eating awesome food and clinking their glasses together were just too much commotion to interrupt, assemble my camera, and take a picture of, so you can click HERE to see a picture of the restaurant and the hall were seated in, or just take my word for it:  THIS PLACE WAS SO MUCH FUN!

Eric outside of U Fleků

The medieval astronomical clock in Prague is the third oldest in the world, but the oldest operating astronomical clock in the world.  It was built in 1410 and is composed of three parts: 1) the astronomical dial that shows the position of the sun & moon, 2) the hourly dial displaying the Apostles, and 3) a calendar dial showing the months of the year.  

It was gorgeous!  We bought a small replica to hang on our wall along with other little things we've collected from our travels, and I just love it!  The blue in the clock matches the blue wooden shoes we bought in the Netherlands so it all ties together.  We're collecting all sorts of things from our travels and right now I feel like my living room is turning sort of into an art gallery or museum- it's just not as cozy as I want, and I'm blaming the furniture.  Well that, and I'm obsessed with the black & white color combination so it's too blah because I don't know how to make it look cozy.  I can't wait to get new couches!  Black leather seemed like a great idea 8 years ago when we had a different house and different stuff, but now it's just not the vision I'm going for.  I want cozy and comfortable.  After we move back to the States I'm hoping to get an over-sized comfortable, cushy, non-leather couch in a neutral taupe color.  

Soooo... anywho.... the wooden shoes and astronomical clock are just perfect together... which was what I was trying to get at.

Since the weather was as gorgeous as the clock, we decided to climb to the top to get a birds eye view of the city.  

Týnský chrám

St. Nicholas Church

Prague Castle in the distance.

Since we were so close to the Charles Bridge we sort of saved that for last.  We wandered back & forth, on both sides of the river, listening to the different bands that played polka-style music that made you want to dance (which I totally did, much to my daughter's embarrassment) and was so perfectly fitting for such a neat city! 
We window shopped on the other side of the bridge and I thought that that side was prettier than the Old Town side! 

Love locks

One of like 3 or 4 little bands that played all along the Charles Bridge.

I honestly have no idea what I'm touching here, or why, but there was a long line of people waiting to rub this statue so I figured I would too (and yes, I was totally that kid that if all my friends jumped off a cliff, I would have too.  So whatever.).

For our last night in the Czech Republic we allowed Isabelle to stay alone in the hotel with wifi and a pizza while Eric and I went on a date.  We found a nice little bar right at the base of the Charles Bridge on the same side of the river as our hotel and had drinks. Since we were so close to our hotel we were able to enjoy our time alone, knowing that we could be back at the hotel within minutes if needed.

We sat there for over three hours just talking!

We mostly talked about how thankful we are that a long painful chapter with our fertility is permanently closed for forever; We reflected on our angel babies whose presence is a hidden heaviness no one but us can feel.  We talked about how even though our hearts will forever be broken, we are so at peace and giddy with closing that gosh damned chapter, and wondered what f^*king purpose it was supposed to serve.  And then we talked about the future, wondering where life was going to take us next, and me getting excited at all of the possibilities (and then Eric having to calm my ass down because it's not likely he'll ever be President or that we'll climb Mt. Everest and my possibilities were maybe a little out of reach).  You know.... one of those talks that could last all night, and because we were just so happy to be in Prague, the conversation was fueled by happiness.  One of those talks that connects you even deeper with your husband.

We sat there until a little after dark enjoying our last night in a beautiful city... and each other. 

This was my view during our date.

I knew that Prague, Czech Republic was one of the major must see's, and I knew I would love it, I just didn't know I would love it as much as I did.  And I'm still going to go with us waiting to visit Prague until our last year in Europe because we wanted to save the bests for last..... because it really was the BEST!


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