A Day in Prague: Castles, Piss, Supermodels, and Peppermint Beer

August 18, 2011 - 11:31 pm No Comments

Another long, hot day. My feet are crying for mercy. I’ve got a sweet crisscross tan on the top of my feet, but Chaco sandals are not the shoes to wear for 12-hour urban hikes.

We started the day with a free, guided walking tour around central Prague. The city’s got an interesting mix of unique architecture, people, and Russian street names. Like the rest of central Europe, the Romans, and then the Germans, and then the Russians shaped the history and people of this country.

It’s easy to get lost – streets intersect almost randomly. If you’re hoping to get somewhere by walking in a straight line, you’re out of luck.

Matryoshka Dolls

Charles Bridge on the Vltava

Statue of St. Ivo

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi

Jaroslav Róna's Franz Kafka Statue

Powder Tower

We hiked to Prague Castle, the largest castle in Europe in terms of the land area it covers. Naturally, the castle sits atop a hill, and naturally, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It wasn’t until later that I learned there is a tram you can take to the top.

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral Back Doors

St. Vitus Cathedral Detail


Mala? Strana

My Lonely Planet suggested a quick stop at David ?erný’s “piss” sculpture, which turned out to be two life-sized, metal human forms facing each other and pissing into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic. We discussed how America’s irrational patriotism would never allow for such a thing back home.

David C?erny?'s "Proudy"

We were about to call it a day when we turned a corner to find an incredible-looking model with angel wings standing on a platform under the Charles Bridge. A lighting crew and production assistants danced around her. We had stumbled upon a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot. With lightning-fast reflexes, I reached for my camera, but as quickly as I could get my hands on it, production assistants scampered over to shoo us away. Frank and I were able to get up onto the bridge and out of range to shoot a few photos.

Victoria's Secret Shoot

Candice Swanepoel

Candice Swanepoel

Candice Swanepoel

Candice Swanepoel

Candice Swanepoel

The angel was Candice Swanepoel. Laura says all of the other Victoria’s Secret models were sitting down underneath the bridge, but I didn’t see them.

The rest of the women in Prague aren’t bad, either. They’re mostly thin with that Eastern European look, but there’s Hungarian or Italian or something fuller mixed in there, producing an interesting and usually attractive combination of features. Unfortunately, in my limited encounters with the locals, they don’t seem particularly friendly. As in Poland, there are no smiles or courtesies here.

The Jewish quarter of Prague was left mostly untouched by Hitler in WWII, part of his diabolical plan to create a “Museum of an Extinct Race.” Here, you’ll find the oldest synagogue in Europe not to be bombed or demolished, built in 1270.

Across the street is the Old Jewish Cemetery, where bodies are buried 12 deep in some places. There are an estimated 100,000 graves in this tiny plot of land.

Another traditional Czech dinner. If you like pork, dumplings, potatoes, and kraut, central Europe is the place for you. Along with beer, all the local breweries also make their own brand of soda, each a little bit different. The Cokofola I had with dinner tasted like a watered down mix of Coke and Dr. Pepper.

After dinner, we walked up the hill to the base of the Metronome for a sunset view of the Prague skyline and a few beers with the guys.


Prague on the Vltava

Beer & Peppermint Schnapps

Prague Castle at Night

I contemplated a Prague pub crawl tonight, but I just couldn’t. After days of non-stop walking and bag-carrying in the scorching heat, I’m completely exhausted. A 6am departure to ?eský Krumlov (CHESS-key KROOM-loff) tomorrow doesn’t help things. As much as I’m enjoying myself, I’m finding the pace borderline grueling. From dawn till dusk, we’re constantly walking, always fast and often with our heavy bags. Props to the older people on this trip who seem to be doing just fine. Either I am getting old, or they are in exceptional physical shape. Maybe a bit of both.

An extra day in each city to relax and soak things in a bit would have evened things out nicely. Then again, that would have made it a three-week tour, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to take the trip. Can’t have it both ways.

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