Interestingly at my new hostel, the showers were co-ed, actual water closets with locking doors, a bench within and no curtain. The cement was raised a few inches so no worries about water overflowing.
Funny getting situated in a mirror whilst a couple of girls are blow drying their hair or adding makeup. Very domesticated environment for strangers.
I had enough time to get a flat white coffee from the EU equivalent of Starbucks, Costa.
I only name them as they had a large sign explaining all the ways one could order coffee with pictures of the amount of coffee vs milk. No more lattes or Americanos for me!
I had to trek back to the centre and good lord snakes! The downtown area has all sorts of people trying to get korunas off tourists.
Usually it was people eloquently dressed who stood like statues, but if you tried to take a pic without pay, they came to life: Pay me!
Another common sight was a guy or 2 suspended in an unnatural manner, like they were floating in the air or some other gravity defying trick. They had a metal stand hidden under their flowing attire was the trick.
This was the first time I’d seen someone with a boa constrictor, or python, hard to tell, walking around trying to get someone to drape the reptile on their shoulders for a pic, cash up front.
Before joining my tour I had to get a ticket at the tourist company, which was just off a busy road. Back and forth I walked but I couldn’t find it.
Ah it was down this narrow walkway, looked more like a mugging setup location, but yet there was a sign above a door to the tourist company where I picked up my ticket.
Our guide was a Prague native and explained the itinerary to us before leaving. Lunch was optional, but we all would stop for an authentic and delicious Czech meal.
She said she would eat at this place even if she had to pay, which she didn’t because she was bringing in 30-ish people.
First stop was the rail station, where she talked to us more as the train was delayed.
Hora was at one time the largest city in the Bohemia region due to silver mines that produced for centuries.
We hopped on the late train and I was joined in a compartment by a family of 5, all blonde haired girls save the man who had a graying goatee.
Once again, fate or destiny placed me with a family from Plano, of course, suburbs!
They listened intently as I outlined my travels. I told the girls how lucky they were to start traveling at a young age. Oldest was maybe 11, youngest was 6.
“When y’all get into high school and you study history, you can tell everyone what this area is actually like. It’s living history you can touch.” I tried to explain.
These girls could hardly give a shit where they were, they were thirsty and hungry, it was hot, why are they going to this small city when they could just stay in the hotel?
I’ve been there at that age, everyone has, oblivious to the cool trip you were on in an amazing location.
I now valued my parent’s hauling me across the US growing up. At that age, you don’t care about much other than video games (internet now), playing or fighting with your siblings, and just running around being dumb.
They slept most of the trip while I talked with their dad, occasionally the mom would add a comment or 2, asking about a city.
Our guide sat down handed us a menu to take down our orders so the restaurant could be ready for a big group.
All were traditional Czech dishes and very inexpensive. I want to say most were well under 10$ a plate. Beer was separate of course.
I’d say she changed her mind on eating no less than 5 times, asking about ingredients, vegetarian options, and portion sizes.
Just a beef and dumpling dish in broth with cream for me. I’m easy and wanted to see how this roast beef compared vs my mom’s.
She was very put off at the thought of staying with strangers in a room, too, when I told her I stayed in hostels. I just shrugged her off.
This family was pretty well off financially, I concluded and I’ll bet they took long trips overseas every summer. She hadn’t had to be around strangers or anyone in their big house back home and hotels on the road.
My family’s big trip when I was growing up was to Yellowstone and back to Texas, 2 weeks. Looking back it was indeed life changing being gone so long. Sleeping in new towns, eating different foods, meeting new people. That’s living.
We changed trains to a much smaller, nearly trolley like line that led into the city.
We got out at one of the few large employers in town, a tobacco packing plant.
There were few signs of much employment here, quite a desolate looking town.
Reminded me of some of the small towns in west Texas that once were prosperous when they had oil, but it had dried up years ago…decades ago.
Not much keeping folks here other than that’s where they were born and it was all they knew in the world.
A short walk down a street and we saw the bone church, actually named the Sedlec Ossuary.
It was quite small building with a long line of people queuing to enter I wondered how we’d all fit inside.
There were lots of above ground graves in the courtyard. Skull and crossbones statues were all over the chapel.
The wind vanes turned out to be skull and crossbones, too. It didn’t seem like a holy or religious place. It was laden with death.
Several ladies were detained at the entrance by a nun who explained that women who entered had to cover their shoulders.
All uncouth women were given shawls, but not a guy dressed in flip-flops, athletic shorts and muscle shirt with sleeves cut off bearing the always appropriate phrase, “Fuck you, I’m drunk!” emblazoned on it. Sure he was dressed ‘appropriately,’ but cover up them shoulders ladies, this is a holy site!
Ah the compartmentalization of religion when it came to genders knew no bounds.
On either side of the stairs the bones were piled high with skulls serving as visual focal points. This is where the bulk of the bones were. The rest of the bones were arranged into towers, spires and coat of arms.
Alas they had removed the huge chandelier I’d seen when I first learned about this place. That usually happened as most things in Europe are a lot older than the US and as such they needed repair, restoration.
I really enjoyed this place, put my bones up in an artistic way when I die for people to see and photograph. Ah artistic even in death!
Our group was shuttled out after our allotted time was up.
Time for food after being in a centuries old ossuary!
A shuttle appeared and we drove awhile to our restaurant across town, where we were led into the back courtyard full of long, communal tables.
I sat down at a table next to a couple of cute girls, maybe I could make some friends.
They were French so that’s what they spoke until our guide asked them about a beverage, then they were fluent in English and ordered wine.
I selected a dark beer and asked them where they were from, Paris. They weren’t huge fans of Lyon, which I get, it isn’t Paris. They returned to their conversation in French. Damn.
A cute brunette seated across from me asked me a question about Prague. She was relieved someone else also spoke English at the table.
Her boyfriend joined us soon after, foiled again. I got up to wash all the bone residue off my hands.
I had a beer waiting upon my return and we all said ‘Na zdravi!’ along with the tour guide and some of the wait staff clinking our glasses together.
The couple was nearing graduation from college and elected to travel during their last summer break before getting real jobs.
Our food was soon delivered and it was indeed a sturdier version of roast beef, with doughy, nearly bread like dumplings swimming in an au jus sauce topped by non-sweet whipped cream.
Quite good but I think my mom’s got them beat on the roast beef tip.
After finishing the meal and another pint, we paid and were off to another huge cathedral on top of a hill with a wonderful view of the town.
This was St. Barbara’s Church, a huge Gothic church.
Inside we were informed it had been built over the course of many centuries, including a time it was run by Jesuits, who painted over many of the frescoes, removed many items and added Baroque elements to the building.
I wondered how the acoustics were in such a huge structure. What was it like hearing people sing in here?
Our tour concluded at the Italian court, a short walk away from the cathedral. It was the king’s residence whenever he visited the sliver mines.
All I can recall about his place was a huge, circle style courtyard with many small rooms used by Smithie’s to hand pound coins as this building was also the nation’s mint.
I joined a few dudes in a compartment for the ride back. It had been a long day of walking, good food, and great sites. We all napped on the way back to Prague.
I paused to walk around and through the Powder Tower or Gate, one of the original city’s entrances and it divided Old and New town’s.
This was a landmark I knew so I was heading in the correct direction.
It was still pretty early in the evening, so I walked through the market near my previous hostel.
Lots of small tourist trinkets for sale in addition to a few hand-made useful items like garments and stitch ware.
I decided not to take any touristy stuff with me on this trip, the only souvenirs would be coins from each of the countries. I didn’t have a lot of room to carry breakable items.
My shortcut turned into an interesting diversion as I passed by a small brewery. I walked by again before entering as it was quite small.
Yup why not end my day in here, it was small and not too crowded.
The beer was very good and they had Budvar dark on draft even though they made several beers there. Something for everyone, I suppose.
I sipped a couple of beers at a small bench just across from a huge, copper vat that was now used as a seating area.
A large group occupied the space so I decided to wait them out in hopes of sitting in this unique area.
I was one of the last to leave, but dammit, I drank a beer in that vat room!
What a day! One of the best on my trip.
Song: Misfits Skulls
Beer: Dačický světlý ležák