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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

But mine especially are worth a billion.

Just kidding, I'm so not a photographer. I figured that my photos were better eye candy than absolutely nothing, though, so here are Prague photos!

One of my favorite places to visit was Charles Bridge. It was a pedestrian bridge with a lot of little booths set up where folks would sell homemade crafts such as paintings, hair ornaments, ceramic flutes, etc. There were also musicians who would play on the bridge. The above picture features The Bridge Band, and they were there every time I went on Charles Bridge, and I went on it at least twice a day. The top two photos just picture Charles Bridge from different points on the bridge.

These pictures are all of Lennon Wall. Even though The Beatles never played in the Czech Republic, it was a wall where people would write Lennon-inspired thoughts, or that's how it started in the 1980s. Apparently, people came here to write grievances, much to the annoyance of the communist officials. The original start of the graffiti has been painted over ages ago, but it's still cool since it's a living mural. While I was taking pictures, a girl actually mentioned how it had been completely different the week before. (I think she said all the white graffiti hadn't been there). 

Here's my contribution to Lennon Wall! "Chandrie Cook 07/11/11, I'm low-fat and boylicious!"
5 pounds to the first person to accurately describe the meaning of that quote.

Speaking of graffiti, here is another, less pleasing example of graffiti! My goodness, the whole city was covered in graffiti. It's quite a shame, to be honest. Prague would be a gorgeous city if it weren't for the graffiti and pot-smokers. It's funny, for a city where I couldn't find many English-speakers, a lot of businesses and graffiti are in English.

The city is quite artful, though. You can find statues, memorials, and orchestral concert advertisements all over the place. The above is an example of the many memorials, and the one that stuck out the most in my mind. It's a memorial to the victims of communism and totalitarian despotism. The hill that this particular memorial descends down actually leads up to my next few pictures:

The first picture is a picture of Petrin Tower. Holy cow, that was one massive hill I had to climb to get up there. It was ridiculous! They actually had a cable car going up and down the hill. I was too cheap to take it, though. Plus it was a nice walk. Anyway, I got to the top of the hill, found my way to Petrin Tower, and then proceeded to the top where I took the other pictures. The first picture from Petrin Tower features Prague Castle and the others are just random shots. It was a beautiful view.

This map was the only map displayed in order for visitors and tourists to find their way to the top of Petrin Hill to get to Petrin Tower. It was all in Czech, absolutely no help to me at all.

So another place I went to visit was Prague Castle. It's not really a castle, but more of a small town. This picture is of the chapel within the gated castle.

This is just a picture of the gates to enter Prague Castle. 

This is a picture of a gargoyle hanging out on the chapel at Prague Castle. I just liked how it was sticking its tongue out. How cheeky!

This is Prague Castle at night. I was walking back to my hostel at the end of a long day, and was struck by the beauty of the castle at night, so I had to take a picture. It looks much better in person. Haha.

Right, so, to get to Prague Castle, you have to climb a massive hill. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Everything in Prague is on top of some hill or another. Anyway, there were a lot of stairs.

I absolutely love this restaurant at Prague Castle. No, I didn't eat there, but I really loved how they have "Since 1360" over the door. Where in America would you come across that with a chance of it being true?

Ok, these pictures are just shots of the buildings. My first impression of Prague was that it was the ugliest city I had ever seen. Graffiti, pot, and now multi-colored pastel buildings? Gross. The more I saw it, though, the more I appreciated it. It really adds to the eclectic atmosphere of the city, and they are really old buildings. By the end I found the buildings to be quite beautiful.

For such a sinful city (just kidding), it has a really strong religious background. Everywhere you go you're bombarded with churches, synagogues (as seen above, with the blue gates), statues of religious figures, etc. I'm really not used to this at all. In America, everyone's suddenly taking offense to anything Christian, and in the U.K. there's not a very strong religious presence. Yes, there is one, but not nearly as prevalent as in Prague. I found the contrast to be really amazing. In America, most people have some sort of religious belief, especially in the Bible Belt (south), but there isn't a strong obvious presence if you were just walking down the street other than the church buildings. In Prague, it didn't seem to be a city where most people affiliated with a church and attended regularly, yet there's a religious presence everywhere you go. The second to last picture above, with the cross, is actually right in front of a hotel.

Speaking of America, Ron Paul anyone? American politics are discussed everywhere.

One of the things I did in Prague was a ghost tour in Old Town. It was alright (I went on a much better on with my family in San Francisco), but one thing the guy did that was pretty cool was had us take pictures in order to find orbs. According to him, all the spots are orbs. I find this conclusion to be dubious.

I also went to the Museum of Medieval Torture. It was awesome. Totally grotesque, but very interesting! Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside the museum. In Prague, you either couldn't take a picture inside of these tourist places or you had to pay for a photography license/photography fee. Ridiculous, right?

I am obsessed with World War II, so of course I had to go to the Jewish Quarters. It was dead depressing, needless to say. One of the synagogues I went into had a memorial sort of thing set up for the children who died in concentration camps. You never think about what the children when through when you learn about the war, just the hard facts, but it shouldn't be forgotten or overlooked. That was probably the saddest place I went, learning about the child victims. The Jewish Cemetery (seen above) was the most interesting cemetery I've seen so far (confession, I love cemeteries). Living in the ghetto, space was limited, so once the cemetery was full, graves were placed on top of each other with only a few centimetres of dirt in between. This led to the placing of gravestones so crammed together. Technically pictures weren't allowed in the cemetery, but I was already paying so much money to get to Prague and explore that I didn't care.

Here are the last three photos to share for this blog entry. The top one is of the Church of Our Lady Victory, the second one is Old Town Hall, and this last one is just a street view. I did take more photos, but these were the best, in my opinion. If y'all want more pictures, just let me know. I don't mind posting more!

Right, well, that's my update on Prague! My conclusion? Great to visit, wouldn't want to live there, and I don't really want to go back either. I did love seeing a new place, and traveling on my own was a class experience, but there's more to see in the world! I would never trade this experience for anything in the world, though. Traveling on your own really helps you build character and courage. It's a scary thing at first, but then once you get the hang of it the whole experience is the best. It also helps you build problem solving skills... like trying to figure out how to get your train when you don't speak a word of Czech. Haha. 

Back in Wales, nothing too exciting is happening. Just loving life! I'm heading into week 10 of classes, which means only 3 weeks left until Christmas Break. Not going to lie, I'm really excited to go home for Christmas. I love it here, but I'm ready for a break from studies and to see my family. I also have some pretty big news if all goes according to plan... so stay tuned! I should know in the next week if my big plans are going to fail or succeed. Pray that they succeed! Haha.

Well, I'm exhausted. Friday night I had a mock Thanksgiving dinner with my English friends over in Prestatyn. It was a lot of fun! One thing that sucked was I couldn't find any pumpkin anywhere, so no pumpkin pie. That was a bit depressing. I did get to make sweet potatoes, though! We had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, rolls, bannoffee pie, umm... gravy, and potatoes. I think that's it. Either way, it was the best. I love my English friends! They're amazing. Saturday I hung out with them all day as well, and we went to the Fun Centre in Caernarfon. Oh man, that was insane. I'm all bruised and battered! It really hurts to sit down. Haha. Great fun, though. They had these massive slides, a ball pit, and just this huge jungle gym, I guess is the best way to describe it. It was class.

Alright, I'm going to head out now. Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving! Nos da!

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