This morning we executed the quick pack-up (because we are becoming expert packers & experienced backpackers) and went downstairs for breakfast. We decided it was easiest to just eat at the hotel restaurant. Our planned schedule for the day, mainly based around what time we were catching the train, had our meals kinda shifted weird so a big breakfast seemed like a good plan. We each had a Country Breakfast plate…check out how yummy it looks (it tasted even better than it looked, FYI):
We then set off for the train station. We took the metro & a tram to get to the hotel when we arrived in Prague. Today we opted to walk the whole way. Our bags feel nice & light when we are so layered up (and therefore are wearing the clothes that woud normally stuff our bags full). We also are just becoming pro at carrying the things around. We Google Map’ed the walk…it was 1.6pm. Not too far, but pretty good for carrying a 50lb weight. At the train station we stuffed both bags into one of the giant lockers & sealed it up. We could have done luggage storage at the hotel, but we liked the idea of our bags being at the station waiting for us when it was time to leave.
We then continued our trekking and walked to Charles Bridge. The bridge really isn’t that far from the train station (nothings that far apart in tourists Prague) but we still feel we can use the term trekking thanks to our ability to always take the long way. In our defense, we were in absolutely no hurry and had said we’d just wander until we got there…but we still zig-zagged through almost the entire city before we got to the river.
Charles Bridge is one of the top 3 must dos of Prague. They say you haven’t done Prague until you’ve walked the bridge…so that’s what we did. We had meant to do it yesterday but our trip-reworking pushed it to today. In the end it worked out well, it wasn’t raining today! Charles Bridge dates from 1342 when Emperor Charles IV decided to commission a new bridge instead of repairing the old one washed away in the floods. Until the 19th century this was Prague’s only bridge that crossed the river. It’s a neat place to walk. There are interesting statues situated every few feet down the sides, street vendors have set up their wares on little fold-out stands and the views of the city are spectacular. You can see the castle, the National Theater and the river islands, all of which present great photo opportunities.
An important thing about the bridge is it’s being the sight of a famous murder. St. John of Nepomuk was the priest of the king, and therefore the queen. The king once went to John and demanded he tell him what confessions the queen had to make, as he feared she was having an affair. John refused & refused. This was honorable, but only proved to make him a martyr. The king finally snapped, cut off John’s tongue & threw him off Charles Bridge. When John’s body disappeared under the water 5 stars appeared in the sky. These are now the symbol fo St. John of Nepomuk. Now a days, there are two monuments to St. John on the bridge. There is a statue of him, with the trademark 5 stars over his head and plaques depicting his murder on the base. Tourists like to rub the dog on the left plaque and the woman on the right plaque for good luck. What they don’t know is that they are canceling their luck right out! It is actually only good luck to rub the woman and is bad luck to rub the dog. The uneducated folk are fine, seeing as the good & bad cancel out, but we were informed by our tour guide and were able to only earn good luck…maybe we’ll win the lottery…or a car…or find €5 on the street… Anyway, the second monument to St. John is a plaque surrounded by wrought iron work. It shows the broken man laying in the river. Touching the stars on the base of the plaque with your left hand & the body of St. John with your right grants you one special wish! We fought our way to the front of a crowd to give it a try. You can only do this once in your life and have it work, so we made sure to wish well!
Once over the bridge, we explored the Little Quarter. This is the area just south of the castle. As opposed to yesterday, when we saw many things related to Prague’s fights & losses to the Nazis, today we remembered the trials put on the city by the Communists. Under Communist rule, the ideas of Lenin hung over the Czech people. John Lennon was the one to give many locals hope and a vision. When Lennon was killed in 1980, a large wall was spontaneously covered in memorial graffiti. Night after night the police would paint over it and day after day it would reappear. Today the wall is remembered as a place that gave people hope when everyone wanted freedom. “Imagine all the people, living life in peace…”
The Monument to Victims of Communism who Survived depicts how many people disappeared during Communist rule. A handful of people were executed and a few imprisoned but over 170,000 people left the country. This monument depicts how people slowly disappeared and limb by limb escaped totalitarian rule.
Next to the Communist monument is the Hungry Wall. During the 14th century Charles IV used the building of this wall to provide jobs for the poor…it was the 14th century equivalent to FDRs work-for-food projects.
Our walk back to the rail station was about as direct as the walk from it this morning…and by that we mean incredibly indirect. We were still there with plenty of time so we sat down for a pasta lupper (it was past lunch time but too early for supper). It was yummy…nothing special or anything, but cheap & cheerful.
On the train we had snacks in place of supper. These snacks included 4 nice fluffy breadsticks for 50 cents Canadian. Did someone say breadsticks?…
Now we are in Vienna, although so far we have seen the train station, our hostel and the 10 blocks between the two. Exploring tomorrow!
Love, Luck & Lupper