Archive for the 'Czech Republic' Category

Prague, Czech Republic

Karie on Apr 10th 2008 07:21 pm

Prague is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. It was largely preserved during the war, although it was bombed toward the end of WWII. However, any damage caused throughout the decades has been replaced or restored, in some cases with even greater magnificence.

When you walk around Prague, look up. Some of the cities most beautiful and unique treasures are on top of buildings, or sometimes even hanging over the edges. For a while it was quite popular for young, undiscovered artists to take it upon themselves to decorate the city with sculptures (sometimes in random places). They often received no fame or recognition, nor did they expect it; it was simply their contribution to their beloved city.

Even the houses are decorated. Each building has (or had) some type of unique sign by which it could be identified. Before street names & numbers existed, you could send a letter to “the house with the three flying ducks”, and the messenger would know where to deliver it.

It’s hard to imagine that such a beautiful place was under such oppression not so long ago. We took a free walking tour (yes, we’re becoming quite fond of the free walking tours, especially when we don’t have a lot of time in a particular city), and our tour guide was a girl around 30 years old named Victoria. She was a Prague native, born into communism, but her parents gave her and her brother “Western” names in hopes that they could grow up and immigrate, in order to make better lives for themselves. Thankfully now, it is not necessary for them to leave their country to find opportunities.

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Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Karie on Apr 7th 2008 09:59 pm

Cesky Krumlov takes the cake for the “Most Likely to Make You Want to Stay Longer and Do Nothing” award. When you plan your trip, figure out how long you want to stay, then add a day or two. It has the relaxing feeling of a beach resort, except that there are no beaches and it’s not overpriced.

It’s a charming medieval village set in what feels like the middle of nowhere (about a 3 hour bus ride from Prague). There’s a river that winds through the town, on which you can raft or kayak in the summer months, but don’t bother trying to orient yourself based on the river as you will get lost following its many twists and turns. However, as our hostel host told us when we first arrived “getting lost is just part of the experience here.”

It doesn’t take much aimless wandering before you stumble across the castle, which includes one of my favorite attractions of the city. Back in the days when the castle was still in use, the mote surrounding it was stocked with bears for protection, rather than water. The bears are still there just for nostalgia, although they are well-fed, slow-moving, and don’t look like they’d really give a rip if you fell into their mote. That happens to be my favorite kind of bear.

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