We found THE coolest place last night. It's a sports bar where you sit at a table for four and you each have your own individual tap. And there is a little revolving LCD screen on top of it that tells you how many liters of beer your table has drank. AND THEN... on a big screen TV on the wall, it shows how much your table has drank in relation to the other tables and has it in a sports book kind of layout so it's like a game to race eachother. We drank 3.2 liters of beer and it was only 240Kc which is like 12 bucks. it's like $1.20 a pint. Incredible.
Today, we took a walking tour with this guy named Paul and it was great. We left at noon (which made for a very casual lazy morning - oh and our hostel actually had REAL breakfast. It was an all you can eat buffet of cereal, eggs, toast, rolls, cheese, nutella, yogurt, juice and tea and it was wonderful). We started by walking down to Vaclavske nam which is Winceslas Square and is where the national museum was (the main street I was walking down yesterday). We got an intro to Prague and heard a little about the history. We saw an old memorial to Jan Palach and Klan Zajic who were these two 19 year old kids who burned themselves alive in 1969 to protest the Soviet invasion. People still leave flowers there daily.
From here (Nove Mesto or new town / 1400's new) we walked down the street past a couple cafes and then stopped at the bottom to go into the Mustek train station which is where the old bridge went from old town to new town and because the city has risen so much over the past 100 years, the bridge is in the metro station. It was really neat. The city has risen up because they are afraid of floods here (there have been quite a few REALLY bad ones) and they just keep gradually building the roads higher and higher. Most of the buildings "ground floor" is in the basement and makes for a ton of underground clubs and restaurants. After we left the Mustek we walked down to the Stare Mesto which is old town.
Old town is amazing. The buildings are so beautiful and there is a huge square in the middle with this famous clock. The clock has the hours of the day, the minutes of hte day, the days of the year (which all have a different name related to saints that did things on each day) and the astronomical signs. On the hour, the little skeleton rings a bell and shakes his head up and down saying that he is going to kill the other people on the clock and the little saint guys shake their heads no to say that he can't get them. Somewhat uneventful, but the thing is OLD (1410) and the guy who built it got his eyes burned out because the towns people didn't want him to reproduce it anywhere else.
Next we walked to Josefov which is the old Jewish Quarter. it was literally a walled in ghetto where Jewish people were "kept" and weren't allowed to leave. For 400 years before WWII all of the Jewish people in Prague were kept in this area and lived there. Absolutely insane that it was going on for that long. It's very cool though. Everything in the quarter is in hebrew and there are tons of synagogues, cemeteries and shops. After WWII, all the Jews were shipped to Auschwitz and the Prague Jewish population went from 120,000 pre-WWII to about 1100 now. Most of the city is a museum now.
From here we walked across the Charles Bridge which is this really old bridge that crosses the Vltava (the river that runs through Prague). The bridge has 30 statues on it and has all kinds of stalls with little knickknacks and a guy playing this circus music machine. One of the statues is a crucifix with Hebrew writing on it and the story behind it is that the Jews did something (like revolted or something) and the city of Prague erected this huge crucifix with the words, "Holy, holy, holy is the lord" in Hebrew in gold letters underneath it to basically mock them and put them back in their place. YIKES!! There's another statue of this guy who was a martyr for the city (St. John). His story is that the king came to him and wanted to know what his wife had said in confession because he suspected that she had a lover and the priest wouldn't tell him so the king cut off his tongue and then threw him off the bridge into the river. The statue is of him and underneath it, there is a little plaque with a carving of him falling over the side of the bridge and it's good luck to rub him as he's falling off. So, of course, I did.
On the other side of the river we walked up this HUGE hill (Prague is EXTREMELY hilly and it's very steep to walk around) and up to this cute little restaurant where we had a little mid afternoon snack of potato soup in a bread bowl with a liter of Pilsner. Oh this is the life. (Oh and Karen just brought me a beer because she felt bad that they're all talking in the room and I "have to update the fam" - Ha!! - Velkopopvicky Kozel Svelty is the name of the beer, how's that for Czech!! - On a side note, this language is SOO difficult, There are accents on every letter and it is impossible to try and sound it out). After our snack we walked up to the Prague Castle.
The Prague Castle is the biggest castle in the world. It is this HUGE complex of buildings, churches, villages and shops where the President of the Czech Republic still lives (we saw his car, so we know he was in there). St Vitus Cathedral, which is the Cathedral in the castle, was beautiful and the inside was full of interesting little secrets. There was a tomb to the saint that was pushed off the bridge (the one with the lucky statue) and it has tons (literally, like 3000 lbs) of Silver above his tomb. There is also a secret room where there is a door with 7 locks on it, and each important person in Prague has the 7 keys and it leads to a staircase that takes you up to the room where the crown jewels are kept. They have guards here like they do at Buckingham palace or Windsor Castle and we saw the keys on one of the guards, they are HUGE old skeleton keys - very cool.
After wandering around the castle, we walked back down the hill and caught the metro up to the top of the hill where our hostel is on. I ate a banana and some nutella and now we're preparing for our authentic Czech meal (goulash) we're about to have and our pub crawl.
Hopefully I'll survive. Just need to pace myself.