The Sisters Epic
|My sisters, the tourists|
The three sisters arrived in Prague hungry, tired, yet with good attitudes at around 1:30 PM. For those jet-lag students out there, this is a difficult time. You (ideally) should wait until the evening of your new local time to sleep, and to arrive at mid-day is killer. So, with the help of a friend and her van, my sisters' and my belongings were taken to her home, and our first of two days in Prague began. Despite the 100% chance, it did not rain, and we started our journey with a patio lunch at Vyšehrad, a tenth century castle remodeled in the following centuries. Now the castle is a ruin, but walls are still present as well as St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, an old rotunda, and a cemetery bearing such famous personalities as the composers Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana. My beloved Czech author Karel Čapek is also buried there. We then continued through Prague, peaking out of the muzeum metro stop long enough to say "hi' to Sv. Vaclav in Wenceslas Square before running over to Old Town Square. There we "dined" on palačinky (crepes) and trdelník. The crepes can be served with salty or sweet fillings. We then ran over to náměstí republíky and the adjoining mall to get some coffee (decaff) before heading in for the night.
The sisters were troopers, and both them and the sun were ready for another Prague day. We began in the Senate's gardens and then meandered up to Prague castle. It was just before noon, and we managed to join the throng gathered to watch the changing of the guard. I was amused by the spectre of it all. Then we meandered the complex, noting Gothic Sv. Vít Cathedral as well as Sv. Jiři--the oldest building in the castle complex. Some successful shopping at Manufaktura also took place before going for lunch at Pivovarský Dům, a microbrewery with some excellent Czech food. Beer, dumplings, cabbage, and meat made up the fair, which energized us for our journey to the Jewish quarter, Charles Bridge, John Lennon's Wall, and no further. We had to reenergize with ice cream at that point before taking the funicular up Petřín Hill. There gardens gave way to trees which gave way to a path downhill, past the magical cavern, and straight to a restaurant with a city view. (The pricing of the restaurant on Petřín is surprisingly reasonable.)
|In the castle at Děčín|
|Coffee at the hotel in Děčín|
The weather was untrustworthy all week. After teaching Monday, I met my sisters at the train station, having made an alternative plan should we decide to abandon our trip to Olomouc due to the weather. They, however, were energetically and decisively still willing to try it out. So we returned to one of my favourite Czech cities. Though overcast, it didn't rain. En route, I texted my random Czech friend in the city (who doesn't speak a lick of English), and she met us at the train station. She brought us to a cafe for coffee and cake and then to a haberdashery for buttons, yarn, and the like. I finally learned the name of this kind of shop, galanterie. As an artist and a knitter, it's a bit embarrassing that I just learned it.
The time was playful and pedestrian. I told the sisters of the 7 city fountains, and they determined to locate them all and take photos with each. Though we had done plenty of self-taken group photos, they agreed that these photos should be taken by someone else--leaving me the task of awkwardly asking strangers to take photos (not my strong-suit in any language). The highlight was when we inadvertently entered a construction site and I asked some workers to take the photo. I was a little slow to the understanding of their saying we were forbidden to be there rather than they were unwilling to take our photo. Also in Olomouc my sisters saw their first stolpersteine, and I saw more that I hadn't previously located. Other Olomouc highlights included running to see the astronomical clock go off--when in reality it only goes off once or twice a day--and trying the famous stinky cheese with Faith and nearly vomiting.
Tuesday was a public holiday, and we declared it castle day. We went to Hradec Nad Moravicí after much debate (at least within myself), Opava, and the chateau at Radun. We toured the white castle at Hradec Nad Moravicí as well as the red wall/gate that stands before it. I played "translator"--tossing extra details I caught on the tour to my sisters. The sun finally peaked out after our tour of the white castle. Then we "picnicked" in the courtyard of the castle before walking around to the tour featured in the video below.
Not to neglect any potential castles/chateaux, we went back to Opava and on to Radun, where we enjoyed the still environment around that chateau. Having ample time before the bus into Opava, we went to a pub for some supper. The waiter came over and promptly sighed "Jesus and Mary" when he heard our English. I appeased him with some Czech, and since they only served pizza, we enjoyed that with our drinks.
|Happy sisters at Hradec Nad Moravicí|
|The fountain and trubka in Štramberk|
|řepky fields in yellow|
An afternoon at the zoo turned to a trip to nearby Bohumín to meet with one of my dearest friends here. Really, a trip to the Czech Republic wouldn't have been complete without their introduction. Jana was a gracious host, taking a slow pace and full of patience. It was a welcome change from my whirlwind pace that constantly had us on or off some form of transport. We had a relaxed coffee and then lounged by a lake before meeting her husband at a pizzeria. She called the pizzas "huge-ish" but in all reality, they were bigger than Texas. We enjoyed the time and she was gracious enough to drive us back to Ostrava, where we had a packing party. Though our last night, it couldn't be our last excitement. On the train back to Prague, I distributed some toy dinosaurs I'd been sent for my birthday. My sisters took to photographing them in somewhat convincing positions in relation to the scenery outside--something they continued in London.
Overall, the trip was energizing for me, as I had some extra diversion and the opportunity to see some new sites. Simultaneously, it was a bit strange to be around people so often and to speak so much English and Czech within one week. I realized I still have a ways to go before I'm qualified to be a proper tour guide, but I hope my sisters have forgiven my stressful and ungracious moments and instead will treasure moments of running for trains, taking dinosaur photos, entering construction sites, eating disgusting cheese, and--of course--taking pictures "for Chad."