I have been in Rome for just over a month now, and by last week I was antsy for some time away. Life is slower here, but it still wears on you. So, come Thursday, I was more than ready when Brittany, Scott and I, plus a few dozen other college students on our Bus2Alps trip, hopped on a bus for a weekend in Prague, Czech Republic. And what a bus ride it was—16 hours full of strange European convenience stores, the German border control and attempting to fit my 6-foot frame into a 2 X 4-foot space. We made it though, and at 10 a.m. on Friday morning we dropped our stuff at the very lovely Czech Inn (pun intentionally avoided), wolfed down the best breakfast I have had since arriving in Europe and headed out the door.

First up was a walking tour that hit spots like Old Town Square in the Old Town Quarter:

The Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square (thanks Scott for the picture).

And the Jewish Quarter, which includes the Old New Synagogue (where the body of Golem supposedly lies in wait):

After an interesting lunch that included cheesy baked chicken and potatoes, we headed out on our own to Wenceslas Square:

 The next day, our fearless Bus2Alps leader Amanda led us on a trek up Petrin Hill. Thoroughly exhausted, we then proceeded to take a speedy jaunt up the lookout tower:

From the top, there were some incredible views of Prague:

After a somewhat slower-paced walk down, we checked out the delicious-smelling Trdelnik—a sort of tube of fried dough covered in sugar and walnuts:

 And headed down the hill to Prague Castle:

Best pink building ever.

We were a bit annoyed we couldn’t walk all the way through, but it turned out they were filming Mission: Impossible 4 (sadly, no Tom Cruise sightings):

Then we took a walk over to the Lennon Wall (first stopping to check out the hundreds of locks on a nearby bridge):

We didn’t have any spray-paint, so I opted for permanent marker instead. It will probably last a week on the wall:

We had the rest of our day to ourselves then, so Brittany, Scott, Lauren, Alex and I checked out the extremely crowded Charles Bridge and grabbed some lunch (I was still a bit confused about what traditional Czech food is comprised of, and incorrectly opted for a kebob since I did not see any dumplings). We did a bit of wandering and then met up with the group at a restaurant to try out the famous Pilsner Urquell. Some other excellent foods I had the chance to try throughout the trip were fried cheese (thanks for the rec Maddy, nom), a gyro and a sausage from street vendors. 

Saturday afternoon, I already found myself realizing I want to visit Prague again. I thought it would seem more foreign than Rome but it wasn’t—it was comfortable. And while the architecture was extraordinarily beautiful, it was more modern and accessible. At the same time, there were small moments when the real tragedy and oppression the people there had seen peeked through. Many storekeepers were unfriendly or untrusting and I found myself just over the wall from spots like the Old Jewish Cemetery.

But come Sunday, after having seen just the basics of the city, a very exhausted group piled onto the bus at 7 a.m. for the ride to Munich. After a four-hour stint at Oktoberfest (check out my coming post), we got back on the bus for the 12-hour trip back to Rome.

I was exhausted, but glad to be home. The next day I walked through the Monteverde market and bought a tomato and hunk of mozzarella. I only had a half hour at home between classes but I just sat and ate by the open window and remembered why I’m here: to understand Rome. And to learn how to make a good Caprese salad.

6 October 2010 · Comments

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