And now we’re in Prague. Perhaps the most irritatingly attractive European city ever.
The architecture was NUTS. It was like being in a fairy tale, with dragons and princesses and everything. My heart actually hurt a little.
Even our generic hotel couldn’t avoid the Grimm’s fairy tales vibe. This was the picture that was over my bed.
“In Czech Republic after woman has been defiled in the middle of the road she chops off man’s head. Enjoy your stay in Prague.”
Also in my hotel bathroom? This.
Beer Capital of the World, indeed.
The great thing about visiting a primarily Catholic country is that there are festivals and celebrations all the time. Every saint needs to be venerated in some way, so the main square usually has something going on. When we were there it was Easter. And the Renaissance Fair thing that Europe does so well (being that they had the Renaissance, of course) was out in force.
First, you see that church there, the white one with the greenish turrets? The Czech Republic is known for glass, specifically lead crystal glass, and they had a GORGEOUS chandelier in that church. My picture totally doesn’t do it justice.
Okay, back to the Easter festival. First of all, there is a clear color scheme for Easter in the Czech Republic, and that is yellow, green and orange. So everything was decorated in those colors.
There was also an eight-foot-tall easter egg made from twigs covered with those ribbons. And the best thing was people were taking pride in the crafts and traditions that they have been doing for centuries. There were people selling small glass and ceramic things and painted blown goose eggs and this forger? Pumping up the heat on his forging station with his foot, like a Singer sewing machine.
And then there was the food. For both Budapest and Prague, the food is pretty much the same. It’s stick-to-your-ribs, meat and potatoes stuff. There were people selling gingerbread cookies that they had decorated with fine lines of white glaze, and tons of sausages, and this baked good that I called a turtleneck because apparently vowels were in short supply the day they named this thing.
How it works: You wrap a strip of raw dough around a wooden dowel, and then the wooden dowel rotates over a roasty-toasty fire. I think they may sprinkle sugar on there too. Then, they slide it off the wooden dowel and you eat it. Along with this, there was what I considered the piece de resistance: The pig roasting on a spit.
I didn’t include a picture of the pig from the front because, frankly, it was kind of gross and wee bit barbaric-looking, but the cool thing was that it was run on wood. And when the roaster ran out of wood, he chopped some more. With that axe can see. Oh my God, it’s so medieval and authentic.
On one of the sides of the square is one of the hot sights in Prague, the astrological clock. I’m not really sure how it works, but it does work and it sure does look complicated.
At the top of each hour, one of the four figures next to the clock, Death, rings his bell and shakes his hourglass. And those two windows open and the twelve apostles swing by. It’s great. Here’s a close-up of Death.
The four figures around the clock are the most-hated things they could think of: Death, Greed, Vanity and a Turk. That’s a whole lotta hate for Turkey. I guess the Czech Republic did not particularly enjoy being ruled by Turkey when this clock was made.
But wait! This is not the only cool clock in Prague. Prague has one of the finest Jewish Quarters of any European city. That’s mainly because Hitler wanted to preserve it exactly as it was as a museum of an extinct race. So it is relatively untouched. In the Jewish Quarter there is a clock that runs backwards because it has hebrew letters on it.
The Jewish Quarter has the really cool cemetery as well. The Jews were allotted only a small amount of space to bury their dead, so it’s a really dense cemetery. Let me explain: when the Jews ran out of room, they put another layer of soil over the graves, moved the pre-existing gravestones up, and buried another group of people. In some places it is twelve people deep. The cemetery was in use from the 1500s to the end of the 1700s, so up to 100,000 people may be buried there.
Another thing about the Jewish Quarter is that throughout the ages, Jews have had to wear identifying garments when out and about with Christians. At one point it was a yellow sash. For a long time, it was a yellow pointed hat. The Jews took this hat and incorporated it into their architecture, so one can see it all over that part of town.
My mom and I partook in the local ethnic cuisine throughout our stay in both Prague and Budapest, and one of the places we ended up in was something between a mad scientist’s laboratory and Applebee’s. It was covered with alchemy symbols and gurgling, lit-up giant fake Bunsen burners and well, you can see for yourself.
And, in keeping with the Crapplebee’s design motif, they also had musical instruments on the wall. No skis or fake-o vintage team photos.
They served green beer. Really. Green beer. I don’t drink beer, but my mother does, so of course I forced the green beer on her. She said it tastes like ear wax, but more bitter. So as tempting as it might be, don’t drink the green beer.