Monday, May 27, 2013

May 22: Prague-Krakow

by Joan Hales

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today, we had a free day in Prague.  It was our last day in the Czech Republic, and we were given the opportunity to visit or revisit any part of Prague that we so chose. My group decided to sleep in a little, and then do some shopping.  After breakfast, we walked to the Charles Bridge to browse the selection of goods that were being sold by all of the vendors.  Not too long into the shopping, it began to drizzle.  We went about our business unfazed by the slight rain, but then it began to pour.  Most of the group wanted to walk briskly off of the bridge to find shelter from the weather, while some of us wanted to jog.  As we regrouped underneath the bridge, it was collectively decided that it was time to start to look for the Lennon Wall.  As we started to try to find the wall, we realized that we were not completely sure where we were or where the wall was.  Instead of asking for directions right away, we ended up wandering for a little bit until we realized that we needed help.  The directions that we got from a woman in a souvenir shop were less than helpful, but eventually we found the wall. 

We ate lunch at a quaint little cafĂ© just beyond the Charles Bridge, and were able to enjoy the music of a street-performing guitarist covering American songs.  As we crossed back over the Charles Bridge, we did some more shopping and a lot more browsing.  As we continued to walk aimlessly through the city, we stumbled across an ice cream parlor.  We ended up staying in the ice cream parlor for about an hour enjoying the ice cream, avoiding the rain, and talking.  An old man who was sitting by himself actually clapped as we left the parlor, because we were being too loud for his liking.  However, no one seemed to like this old man or have a problem with us, so we dismissed it and went on our way.  From there, we went to the Jewish quarter to do some more shopping.  We ended up talking about how commercialized the synagogues have become, since they charge people to take pictures or don’t let anyone take any pictures at all to avoid losing a sale of one of the pictures in their gift shops.  It honestly shocked me how much money tourists are willing to pay in addition to their admission fees.  I also think that if a place says that it is disrespectful to take photographs of their exhibitions, they should not sell replicas of the pictures children of the holocaust have drawn to cope with their experiences during those difficult times.

After revisiting the Jewish quarter, we went to an outdoor farmer’s market.  Seeing the fruits at the market made people realize how hungry they had become, and we went to a pizzeria for dinner.  After dinner, several of us went to an ice bar, where everything was made of ice from the glasses to the walls and furniture.  We had heard that it was an interesting place to go, and were advised that we should try it since we were in Prague.  Even though it took me personally a while to warm back up, it was so much fun.  After we got back from the bar, we prepared to go to the train station to depart for Krakow.  Even though the sleeper cars on the train did not look exactly like those from Harry Potter, we all enjoyed the experience.

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