Monday, August 3, 2015

A Londoner Comes to Prague

Due to my insane final weeks in Prague and a lack of working WiFi, I am finally able to post a blog. Since it’s been awhile, I’ll be posting two. So here is the first one:

Underneath the Astronomical Clock
where the Executioner lived.
My sister visited me in Prague! Since she lives in London, it was only a two-hour flight for her. I’ve done more tourist stuff with Rachel than my entire time in Prague. She was here for six days total. Between studying for final exams and finishing up with my internship, I’m amazed I found time in the day to do everything we did.

The first day was relaxed. I met her at the airport (which very much helped me know how to get there when I was leaving), helped her to her hotel to unpack, showed her my apartment, took her to a traditional Czech dinner, then we found a park on an island in the middle of the Vltava River. It was beautiful and one of the most relaxing moments of my entire time in Prague. I almost fell asleep in the grass. We stayed there until dark.

I hate coffee, but I have yet to
 have a bad one in this country.
The second day I took her to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Cantina. It’s a very Tex-Mex kind of place with huge portions and strong (too strong for me) margaritas. We went to a ghost museum which was incredibly cheesy but a lot of fun. It told all of the ghost tales of Prague (none based on fact of course). We then went on an actual ghost tour (completely different company) which took us underground beneath the Astronomical Clock. We learned about the historical executioner that lived down there with the kingdom’s prisoners. After we were properly spooked, we got incredibly lost getting to the vegetarian restaurant Maitrea (which turned out to be around the corner from the ghost tour where we started). The food was well worth it, though. The Buddhist restaurant had a temple next door and everything they made was from natural, healthy ingredients. After dinner I took her through my theatre so she could see where I worked. Despite being a tiny attic theatre, she was impressed.

a bird of prey in the Castle Gardens
The third day we got crepes from my favorite place for brunch. We visited another museum, the alchemy museum. It’s a partner with the ghost museum and equally cheesy. Nonetheless, it was great fun. We saw what it would have been like being an alchemist in earlier centuries. We even saw Shakespeare who “might have spent time with one of the most famous Czech alchemists” (all just rumor of course). Afterwards we made our way to the one place I’ve been dying to see since my first day, the Franz Kafka museum. I learned so much about one of my favorite authors and felt as if I was able to glimpse into his life. In one of his quotes, he describes Prague as a mother with its claws in you. The city he loved so much was the same city he hated for being the cage he was trapped in. I walked the streets of Prague differently after that, feeling like I was walking in Kafka’s shoes. We went to our third museum of the day next to see Dahli, Warhol, and a famous Czech artist (whose name escapes me). This was more for my sister, but I did find myself enjoying it. I was amazed how much art a small museum had from such famous artists. Our night was sadly cut short after this because I had to run to a study group.

The fourth day we got up early for a sushi lunch at Hanabi out near the Palladium. This was the first good sushi I’ve had in Europe, and it was heavenly. After this, I sadly had to go to class. When I was done, we went out to get dinner at a Belgian mussels restaurant. This was the best service I got my entire time in Prague. When I complimented my waitress, she gave us homemade jam. Then we went to a show that night. The Czech Republic is famous for their Blacklight Theatre which is only found in the area. We were… to say the least, confused by the show we saw. There was no story line or plot. Instead it was a lot of fantastical scenes in black light with cool tricks. Would I ever see it again? Definitely not. But it was nice to experience once and I picked up some interesting ideas for my future theatre career.

inside the Cathedral
The fifth day we woke up early so I could take her to the Charles Bridge where we made our wishes on the polished golden plaque of one of the statues (a long tradition of the bridge) and went to the Lennon Wall where Rachel left her mark (I left my own the day before Rachel got here). We got fancy coffees across from the National Theatre then lunch from Las Adelitas with some friends of mine (where the margaritas are like delicious smoothies and the food is very traditional Mexican). We then visited the castle, where we first walked into the gardens. We were greeted by birds of prey and their trainer who were giving a show for the public. After spending some time with them, we walked through the actual castle and went inside the cathedral that stands in the center. We took our time walking back down from the highest point to the center of Prague. The rest of the day we visited last minute tourist sites like the astronomical clock and where the swans live.

On the sixth day we sat in the same café Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein sat in before I put her on a metro back to the airport. Despite being incredibly busy, I’m so happy I got to show off the city I love. I also got to do everything I wanted to before saying goodbye (I left Prague two days after my sister). Sometimes it’s good to play tourist even in a city you know well.