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Czechia

Curious what backpackers do in Czech Republic? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Well we had to get up a bit earlier today as we needed to pack up. A quick walk to the bakery, it was a bit too dark to look for squirrels. Always seems daunting packing and tidying up, but we always get it done with time to spare. Today we caught a bus as this is the easiest way to get from Nürnberg to Prague. It's nearly a 4hr trip, we left at 11.15am. It was a double decker bus and we had reserved seat tickets. There was only one other person on the bus and would you believe directly across from us, and she had a cold. Grrr. The trip went reasonably quick, we had made our lunch for the trip. The scenery was either forests or vast fields of snow covered fields. It reminded me of our sandy paddocks. Instead of looking for squirrels it was deer, I found some. We arrived in Prague about 3pm, it was a bit scary, a completely different country and we haven't been here before. We found our hotel easily and we have an apartment. It is very nice and the kids have their own rooms, which I think is long overdue. Our next chore was to find a supermarket and shop. There is no way you can work out words as it is a very different language. Then we have the money, we withdrew 15,000 koruna's which is the equivalent to 555 euros or 786 australian dollars. Our groceries came to 526 korunas, I don't think I will get my head around the money. Well, we found some chicken for tea. The good thing over in Europe most places have a picture of a chook or a cow etc. I'm not sure how we ever survived without google translate. The buildings here are different from the other counties we have visited. They are uniformed and ornate, looking forward to seeing more of Prague. Luckily the hotel has a computer for Kellie to use as she is trying to sort out her Uni stuff, which is a bit mind boggling. Hopefully we will be able to sort it out. On the plus side we have a comfortable lounge first time since we have been away. So it should be a comfortable last few days.

    Photo 1 - Scenery from the bus
    Photo 2 - A few deer along the way
    Photo 3 & 4 - Prague
    Photo 5 - Czech money
    Photo 6 - Prague weather for the next few days.
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  • We didn't get to bed until after 12.30am. Kellie has sorted out her university subjects, well at least we hope that it is right. Up at 7am and went down for breakfast. Today it was garlic soup! Could you imagine how gassy you would be eating that first thing in the morning? No apples and custard, it was cous cous mushy stuff and fried onion ???. We are a bit over foreign food now. I might take the Vegemite down tomorrow and have vegemite and toast.
    We left the apartment by 9am and headed into the old town. It felt a lot colder this morning perhaps because we are a bit tired. We went to take some pictures but the town had a haze over it and it was overcast. We walked over Charles Bridge and took some photos. It is the first time my fingers have felt frozen. I haven't been wearing gloves as it's too awkward to take pictures, as my vest pockets have kept them warm enough. I had to fish out my gloves as I couldn't get my hands warm. We have seen these pastry things wrapped around a cylinder and slowly cooked like on a rotisserie. We saw them at one of the German markets. So we decided we should have a taste. We each had a different filling, mine was mixed berries with whipped cream. It was yummy except too much cream. We were still freezing cold and the kids had seen a torture museum the day before. I had done some research and knew it wouldn't take long to go through. It was long enough to warm us up again. We needed to head back towards our hotel as we had a tour at 12.30pm and had to find a quick lunch on the run. Unlike Germany there are very few bakeries or cafe's to grab a bite to eat. Our last resort was Maccas, not bad the kids haven't had it for 5 weeks.
    Our tour today took us out to Terezín. It is about an hour's drive from Prague towards Germany. Terezín the town was built as a part of a fortress in 1780 by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire as protection against their Prussian neighbours and was used during WWII as a Jewish Ghetto where the Jews from the area were forced to live. Out there also was the Gestapo prison which also served as a deportation camp sending trains to death camps, if they made it. We also visited a museum which unfortunately we only had 20 minutes in and we wished we had longer as it was so interesting and engaging. Once again our tour guide commented on how it's not usually this cold, it is unusual for it to be in the minuses.
    We arrived back in Prague about 5.30pm, once again did a bit of shopping for tea. I don't think we will need Emirates to fly home, I think we have eaten enough chicken we will be able to fly home ourselves.

    Photo 1 - Frozen on the bridge
    Photo 2 - Trdelník
    Photo - 3, 4, 5, 6 Terezín Memorial
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  • Up again this morning, went down for breakfast. This morning they had frankfurt soup with sausage, I presume it was leftovers from the day before. We enjoyed a bit of vegemite and toast.
    Today we went on a tour to Kutná Hora which was an hour drive from Prague. We were a little disappointed with the previous two tours so we decided to try a new company. We were lucky as there were only 9 of us on the tour. The main reason to go out to Kutná Hora was to see the bone church that we had heard so much about. It is a church and inside it is decorated with bones. It was a very strange feeling being in there knowing that there were 60,000 skeletons used in the church. The ironic thing is people travelled from all over Europe to die and be buried in this cemetery as it was thought to be holy grounds and they have ended up as a tourist attraction. After the church we visited other things around the town. Talking to the guide they don't usually get snow and it is the coldest winter they have had in 5 years. Today it wasn't as cold. She said yesterday was -14 so no wonder we felt it. We had lunch at local pub, the kids had a chicken schnitzel that was as big as the dinner plate. I had beef cheeks and Dave had potato and mushroom soup & creamy beef. Tatiana tells us that they don't eat many vegetables and they eat what we had for lunch for lunch and tea. A bit more of a walk around town before heading back to Prague. It was a lovely day with a lovely group of people, a good way to finish. We saw the sun setting on the way home.
    When we got back we walked along the river as it was such a nice evening. We had planned to go out for tea as it was our last night but as we had such a late lunch none of us felt like eating. Tonight we have the daunting task of packing everything into our bags.

    Photos 1, 2, 3 - Sedlec Ossuary (bone church)
    Photo 4 - My lunch, it doesn't look that good, but it was yummy.
    Photo 5 & 6 - Charles Bridge at night
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  • Well Dave and I fell asleep looking at the stars. Our bedroom has a slanted roof and a window above our bed. We woke up to a frosted window. Breakfast is included in our accommodation. A few different things for breakfast, like pea soup, apples and custard. We had arranged a walking tour for our first day to get our bearings. We were picked up at 9.30am and joined the English speaking group at 10am. It was -7°C and stayed that way all day, but the sun was shining. We had a look around the castle and then had a quick toilet stop and a time to grab a coffee to warm up a bit. Then we made our way down to the river for a boat cruise and there we could either have an icecream or a cake thing. The cake was gingerbread with jam in the middle then covered in chocolate. It didn't taste like gingerbread to us. I couldn't wait to get my coffee to wash it down, then when I got my coffee I needed the cake to get the coffee down. The coffee was like an expresso shot with a drop of milk. A bit more of a walk then we had lunch in a medieval themed restaurant. We had 2 courses of traditional Czech food, 3 choices of soup and 7 choices for the main meal. Luckily for the kids there was chicken noodle soup and roast chicken. We finished the tour about 4pm, we made our way back to our apartment, doing a bit of shopping for tea. We had a nice day sight seeing and we all like Prague so far. It's going to be a late night tonight as Kellie has to go online and work out her classes for uni.

    Photo 1 - View of Prague from the castle
    Photo 2 - Charles Bridge
    Photo 3 - Our morning tea
    Photo 4 - My lunch, roast pork with potato dumpling some other dumpling and saurkraut.
    Photo 5 - Medieval Restaurant
    Photo 6 - Astronomical clock
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  • Well we managed to fit everything into our bags. Whether it gets home in one piece that's a different story. We caught a taxi out to the airport as we have light clothes on. When we got out of the taxi at the airport it was a very quick walk without thermals on. All checked in and had some lunch. Now just waiting to board the plane. I will miss seeing the snow covered fields and the white trees covered in ice. I'm not sure we are ready for the Australian summer, but it will be a relief to not put on 5 layers of clothes, 2 pairs of socks then winter boots. It's such an ordeal to venture out.

    Photo 1 - Bags packed
    Photo 2 - Our plane waiting for us.
    Photo 3 & 4 - Kids lunch, yes it come like that.
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  • A fascinating structure is Prague's Astronomical Clock-the Pride of Praha, a pure work of genius. It is made of all mechanical fixtures but one. It shows the seasons, the 24 hr and the 12 hr time measure, what zodiac the earth is in at the moment, and the phases of the moon (the one piece that gets hand-turned every night). It was originally installed back in the 1400s and legend says was commissioned by the city officials. The master clock maker amazed everyone and Prague was very proud of their clock. The city officials were SO happy with the clock and it's maker they threw him a big party with lots of wine and beer. Well into the party, the clock maker was quite wasted, which the city officials intended so they could cut out the clock maker's eyes and cut off his tongue. You see, while they were very pleased with the clock, they were also very afraid of some other city acquiring such a cool clock. In medieval times, instead of having civilised conversation and a contract with a non compete clause, people lose body parts.

    The legend goes on to say the clock maker got his revenge, however. Soon after his eyes and tongue were removed, he timed a well placed jump into the clock tower gears, ending his own life and the working of the clock for many, many years until someone smart enough could come around and rebuild it.

    That's not exactly what happened but it's a great story told as we walked the cobblestone streets. It is beautiful and on the hour, apostles come out and do a little jig, rooster crowing and everything. It is only one of three astrological clocks still in existence and the oldest one still working.
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  • The peak Jewish population here in Prague at one time made up 1/3 of all the inhabitants of this city. There were periods of time when Prague experienced religious freedoms (I'll talk more on that in another post) but the majority of Prague's historical behavior towards the Jewish people who lived here has not always been the best. For instance, they were only allowed to live in the Jewish Quarter, which was the slum of the slums, along the river. It was located in lowest elevation of the city and every 10-15 years the river would flood as rivers tend to do, causing massive damage to their homes and shops. The river waters also stirred up yucky things better left undisturbed like disease and human pollution. The Jewish people of Prague were taxed more than the non-Jewish residents of the city and a few times a year the King of the Austrian-Hungary Empire would forgive all the debts of his ppl out of his great benevolence. As the Jewish held most of the debts, their income source would plummet, a difficult life becoming even more so.

    Then there is the Jewish Cemetery of Prague, a plot of land in the middle of the Jewish Quarter. When you look at it, it's like a hill in between buildings. My first thought was they raised the ground where they buried their dead so that their resting places wouldn't be disturbed by the flood waters. Sadly, that is not the case. You see, when the original cemetery was filled and there was no more room to bury anyone, the Jewish ppl asked the city for another place to burial ground, they needed more land. The city said no, there is no more land to give but we can give you soil. So they put another layer of earth on top of the graves already there, just moving the gravestones up. This went on for generations and at least 10 layers. There is an estimated 40, 000 graves in that small area, stacked on top of each other. The headstones are jagged and jumbled, all smushed together, not enough for everyone that is buried there. It was quite an experience to be near something like that.

    The Jewish Quarter is no longer a slum and the city raised the level of the area so it no longer gets flooded when the river rises. There have been times in Prague's history where religious freedom was widespread and the Jewish people were allowed to live and work where they chose.

    I did not have time this trip to go visit the Jewish Cemetery inside or any of the synagogues. Only saw their outside walls, which looked much like the outside of the other walls in the area. But I knew what was there and I recognized. Nor did I get to see the display of 5,000+ works of children's art that was done at the concentration camps in which the teacher hid them in suitcases under floorboards not found until 10 years after the end of WW II. Prague we'll see me again and I will give proper time and attention to this piece of Prague's historical tapestry.
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  • Tuesday we traveled to Kuńta Hora to visit the Kostnice Seldec, also known as the Bone Church. It is said that the abbott of the Seldec monastery brought back soil from Palestine to this chapel in the 13th century. He then sprinkled the Holy Land soil all around the cemetery of this little church, making it the most sought after burial ground for all of Central Europe's aristocracy. After the Thirty Years War, they ran out of room to bury ppl so they exhumed those who had been buried there the longest and began piling them in the church to make room for the newly dead. They estimate there are about 40,000 different people's bones used in the church today.

    In about 1840, the family that owned the land at the time, the Schwarzenburgs, hired a woodcarver named F. Rink to create sculptures out of the bones to decorate the chapel and remind us all of the impermanence of life and that death is inescapable. Real cheery, isn't it?

    This is one of the 12 World Heritage ENESCO sites in the Czech Republic and it was fascinating to see and experience first hand. The chapel is still a part of the Roman Catholic Church, although I do not believe they hold Mass or any other church ceremony there anymore.
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  • I was able to time this picture of Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge just right yesterday evening, my last night in Prague, before heading to Vienna for a couple of days. It reminded me of a funny story I heard.

    In 1989, the Iron Curtain fell here in the Czech Republic. This brought about many wonderful changes, especially concerning the arts. It had been 40 years since anyone from outside the country came to Prague to play any music concerts here. There were many clamoring to get in first and the winner was the Rolling Stones. It is said that EVERYONE in Prague came to that concert, young and old, as it was very exciting.

    The story hours that after the concert, Mick Jaeger and the Velvet Revolution-now-Czech-President, Václav Haval, were having a beer together when Mick told Haval that the Prague Castle was beautiful but it's a shame it's not lit up to be seen at night. Haval should remedy that in Mick Jaeger's opinion. Haval looked at Mick and said hey, man, we just got rid of 40 years of communism and I've got bigger priorities that lighting up Prague Castle. Mick downed his beer, clapped Haval on the shoulder and said, no worries, I've got ya covered. The next morning Mick sent his lighting and engineering crew up to the Castle to install lighting so it can be seen at night, using funds out of his own pocket (about £86,000).
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  • One of my mates gave me a set of duck shaped drawing pins before I left saying that they saw them in a shop and had to buy them for me, I think...

    I'm pretty sure they also suggested I leave a leave a trail of them as I go, an idea that sounded pretty fun so I've been hiding them in the houses I've been staying in and will continue to do so till they run out.

    Geotagging slightly ruins this game of hide and seek but the photos are all close ups so you've gotta at least know what's in your flat if you're gonna find them.

    To anyone who's house I've stayed in, I hope you don't have anatidaephobia.
    http://www.fearof.net/fear-of-ducks-phobia-anatidaephobia/

    p.s. Thanks Amy.

    p.p.s. I'm gonna forget to do this sometimes and totally forgot when I was in Hameln, apologies.

    P.p.p.s. Also found.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Czechia, Tschechien, Tsjeggië, Kyɛk Kurokɛse, ቼክ ሪፑብሊክ, Republica Checa, Cecland, جمهورية التشيك, ܬܫܝܟ, República Checa, Çex Respublikası, Чэхія, Република Чехия, Ceki republiki, চেকিয়া, ཅཻག་སྤྱི་མཐུན་རྒྱལ་ཁབ།, Republik Tchek, Češka, Txèquia, Ripublica Cecca, Česko, Czeskô Repùblika, Чешьско, Gweriniaeth Tsiec, Tjekkiet, ཅེཀ་རི་པབ་ལིཀ, Tsɛk repɔblik nutome, Τσεχία, Ĉeĥio, Tšehhi Vabariik, Txekiar Errepublika, جمهوری چک, Ndenndaandi Cek, Tsekin tasavalta, Kekkia, République tchèque, Rèpublica tch·èca, Republiche Ceche, Tsjechje, An tSeic, ચેક રીપબ્લિક, Yn Pobblaght Sheckagh, Jamhuriyar Cak, Češka Republika, צ׳כיה, चेक़ गणतंत्र, Republika Češka, Čěska republika, Csehország, Չեխիայի Հանրապետություն, Republica Tchec, Republik Ceko, Chekia, Tékkland, Repubblica Ceca, チェコ共和国, ჩეხეთის რესპუბლიკა, Jamhuri ya Cheki, Tjekkia, សាធារណរដ្ឋឆេក, ಚೆಕ್ ರಿಪಬ್ಲಿಕ್, 체코공화국, کۆماری چیک, Res publica Bohemica, Tschechesch Republik, Lipubulika ya Ceeka, Tsjechië, Repubbrica Ceca, Repibiki Tsekɛ, ສາທາລະນະລັດເຊັກ, Čekijos Respublika, Ditunga dya Tsheka, Čehija, Repoblikan'i Tseky, Чешка, ചെക്ക് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്, झेक प्रजासत्ताक, Republik Czech, Repubblika Ċeka, ချက် ပြည်ထောင်စု, Republik Czechia, Tsjekkia, Czech Republic, चेख गणतन्त्र, Républyique Tchèque, Republica Chèca, Čeehi, ଚେକ୍ ସାଧାରଣତନ୍ତ୍ର, Чехи, Czechy, Repùblica Ceca, چېک جمهوريت, Chik Suyu, Republica Tscheca, Chexiya, Repubulika ya Ceke, Cehia, Чехия, Ripùbblica Ceca, Čhekkia, Ködörösêse tî Tyêki, Česká republika, Češka republika, Jamhuuriyadda Jek, Republika Çeke, Tjeckien, செக் குடியரசு, చెక్ గణరాజ్యం, สาธารณรัฐเช็ก, Lipapilika Seki, Çek Cumhuriyeti, Чехія, چیک جمہوریہ, Cộng hòa Séc (Czech), Tsyegän, Republika Czeka, טשעכיע, Orílẹ́ède ṣẹ́ẹ́kì, 捷克共和国, i-Czech Republic