Monday, July 20, 2015

Kutna Hora

So much has happened since my last post, I haven't had much time to sit and write out a blog entry. So I'll be writing two right now, to keep my posts from being ridiculously long. So let's start with eleven days ago:

I went to Hell.

And by Hell, I mean the highest rated tattoo shop in Prague, Hell Tattooing. Yes, I've already gotten one tattoo in Prague at a different shop. Hell prides themselves on only doing original work, so I knew the small red moon I wanted behind my ear would be better to get elsewhere (I got it from a reputable shop in old town that's used to tattooing tourists for that one). But before I ever got to Prague, I knew I wanted something major to honor my love for Prague and my time here. I made the appointment back in the beginning of June. It blows my mind how fast that month passed.

When I went in for my appointment, I told the artist what I wanted. She went away for two hours to sketch it out, showed it to me, then spent the next five hours tattooing this onto my left shoulder:

my new tattoo of the Charles Bridge
Yes, that is the Charles Bridge with the Czech words "Mala Cestovatelka" meaning "Little Traveler". I got this tattoo for so many reasons. I instantly connected with the Charles Bridge when I first walked across it and learned its history. The first stone was set in 1357 on the 9th of July at 5:31. This was because the man leading the construction of the bridge believed in the mystical power of numbers and thought the sequence 1,3,5,7,9,7,5,3,1 was strong and would mean a long lasting life for his bridge. Almost seven hundred years later, it still stands. Coincidentally, my tattoo appointment was on the 9th of July, the 658th anniversary of the Charles Bridge being built. I didn't plan that at all.

I've also believed in the mystical power of numbers for many years. I also think the Charles Bridge represents Prague's beauty and history.  This tattoo was about my love for Prague, a place I truly feel I belong and has stolen my heart, as well as my love for the Charles Bridge, that I am lucky enough to cross almost every day. Bridges have also been a symbol for tying together nations, and what better tattoo for an international business major to wear proudly?

As for the words Little Traveler, they are a reference to a Deathcab for Cutie song, Little Wanderer, that I connected a lot with. (The Czech word for wanderer, however, has religious connotations when translated, so I opted for the word Traveler). I also think the phrase describes me well. I've been the little one in my family (as the youngest and shortest) my whole life, and I have always seen myself as the little one. And the phrase "little traveler", well, it's so simple, and that's how I feel here. I'm nothing too special or fancy, just a little traveler finding her way in this world. I also got Czech words because in the middle of my back is an Arabic word (Inshallah) and on my right shoulder is a french song quote (Je vois la vie en rose). The three languages represent a lot of me and my experiences with cultural submersion.

I love this tattoo. It is my eighth and by far the largest. And yes, it hurt ALOT. But any tattoo is going to hurt when it takes five hours, especially one with as much detail as mine. Worth it, though? A thousand times yes.

Then, two days after getting a brand new tattoo, I took a day trip to:

Kutna Hora.

This is a town maybe an hour outside of Prague. We took the metro to the train station where a bus took us to Kutna Hora. By we, I mean my study abroad organization, CEA.

silver mines
Upon arrival, we took a short tour of the city. It was incredibly beautiful. The cathedral was breathtaking with Gothic architecture. The town had rolling hills. It was stunning. Then we actually got to go through the Cathedral and admire its stained-glass windows.

Gothic Cathedral in Kutna Hora
Then we went on a tour into the historical silver mines which Kutna Hora is famous for. At one time in Europe's history, Kutna Hora was the largest producer of silver. We wore the same robes a miner of the time would have worn, but luckily they gave us helmets with lights instead of the small candles miners of the time would have had to deal with. The mines were creepy and cool. I learned more than I ever thought I would about the process of mining silver.

After this, we had a traditional Czech meal, which for my vegetarian self meant hermelin, aka, fried cheese. Not too bad though. It was a paid for meal and kept me from starving, which allowed me to fully enjoy the next part of our trip:

Bone Church in Kutna Hora
The bone church. We went to a church made of bones from thousands of people. Literally thousands. They were all victims of the Bubonic Plague. I wish we could have gotten a tour through it to learn more history, but we were on our own here. I admired all the bones, wondered how they treated them to keep them from disintegrating, lit a candle and said a prayer for my friend, and took lots of pictures.

The resemblance is striking

It was a spectacular trip that showed me even outside of Prague, the Czech Republic is amazing. The craziest part is just being somewhere with so much history. My country is barely three hundred years old, and now I have a 700-year old bridge on my back.