Prague - The border of Eastern Europe
Prague Travel Blog› entry 11 of 32 › view all entries
It was true that now we were in Prague. I should apologize that my memory in Prague is mixed for three days of my stay, and I cannot make this as a full chronological order. Although the feelings and perceptions are still so vivid, the sequel of events happend for three days were quite random in my brain now. Somehow Czechoslovakia was the country of sad history, a forced merge of zudetenland in 1938 by Adolf Hitler, and after WW2, it was under strong influence of USSR (Now Russia), so that they could not even win an ice-hockey game over Russia. Prague called Praha, and obviously it has been one of the center of Eastern Europe with Warsaw,Krakow, and Budapest. One might add Bratislava and Bucharest but right now we were in Prague. One time I heard from my Czech friend that Czechoslovakia is actually "central" Europe, but it seems that the country has been addressed as the first Eastern European countries you can enter through Germany along with Poland. Believe it or not, since the revolution of 1968, this country has been a notorious delay for his economic development for about 25 years, and only after the Berlin Wall has collapsed, they also started making their economy better. As a South Korean, even 8-10 years ago, perhaps entering this country was not allowed at the time of 1987, as Berlin wall has collapsed in 1989. Eastern Europe went through lots of changes starting from East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Currently, Czech and Slovakia are diffrerent country. Having this in mind, I was a little surprised about what 8-10 years have done to Prague. Although I admitted that this country was a country of well-made vehicle named Skoda and it is almost close to Renault of France at some time point and they were good at maths and engineering, the first impression at the station was that it is better than what I expected.
Nowadays, everything has changed, even 13 years has passed since I visited there. Little traces of communistic party, becoming a member of EU, and quite OK with their economy while their neighbor Hungary are suffering economic crisis. At 1997, there were lots of exchange offices in the station, and they were all so crowded. Just took off the train, we were trying to exchange some money, but then one van was waiting for us and it was from Praha Hotel. Praha Hotel is not located in the downtown but you need to walk about 40-50 min to get to the hotel. So that was why the van was waiting for us. But why for us ! That was a good surprise for us, especially we were a bit tired in Munich and Fussen. It took 20 min to get to the hotel, and it was unbelievably five star hotel. Still it was a mystery that how we could arrange five star hotel in Prague with approximately the same amount of money we spent in Germany or Austria. They were all three stars, which were very nice still, but we thought that this was too much for us. Later we found out that the actual price was only 1/7 of Germany and about 1/3 of Austria when you buy same fried chicken. And that was the time I realized that why a lot of Germans were in the plaza Batzlav, and why all the signs in the station were in German (Eingang/Ausgang for example). It was so cheap that we decided to buy some stuff and shopping and still we had money left. But I do not believe this is the case these days because Czech is now a member of EU and prices went up high with "free" economy.
The first thing we did was having breakfast, but then it was outrageoulsy good quality. Caviar, salmon, fresh salads, and much more. Perhaps we probably did not want to leave the dining room, but then we were behind the schedule anyways so we got to be quick. Waking up with fresh cup of coffee, we finally arrive at plaza Batzlav, and walked through downtown, and saw a cop in front of Department store. We never saw an armed cop (in Korea, cops were not armed but having only clubs like a bobby in London) with an automatic rifle, so wondering what is going on. If you made this far to Prague, Charles bridge is the one thing you cannot miss. Also you will see an elaborate piece of architecture which has a beautiful watch on the wall. A sad story of this watch is that this watch was made for the queen by the order of King. Later on when the watch and tower all finished, the watchmaker was tortured to lose his eyeballs so that he can never make such a beautiful watch again. Leaving behind this sad story, we headed for Charles river and bridege. One of us was painter, and she spent three rolls of films just simply on the bridge. As you might see these days too, there are people who sell souvenirs, and also some of them play instruments to make people amused and earn some money. The bridge and the river are the probably the best feature of the city along with the watch, and it is true that the day was so clear and we had wonderful shots of pictures naturally.
Across the river, there is a big castle where King lived, and if you go up, you will overlook the entire Prague. There is a church inside the castle, and it was the first time that my camera cannot hold one building at one picture because it was so high. So I took two pictures one from the middle, the other from the middle to the top and sky. If you can stand there for more than 15 min, you will see probably one of the most beautiful church in Europe, only matched by Notre dame in Paris with the window of Rose. It became hot after 2 pm, and we have to find some cooler spots now to figure out sweat and thirst. There was a small fountain, and we could soak our hands there, and it was ice-cold surprisingly. Didn't know where the water comes from, we refreshed ourselves instantly and went down from the castle. We took subway, but we really did not know where to take off because we did not know any Czech, so we had to count the number of stations and matched alphabets with subway maps.
Looking around downtown more, it was already getting dark, and we wanted to have a big party at hotel finally. One pleasant thing was the hotel did laundry for us with very cheap price, and after 10 days of travel, we were quite happy to take it. We collected some money and bought really huge amount of food including chicken and all greasy food, beers and sweets. We had our room in the balcony, and we could oversee Prague at night. Still don't know what was the occasion, there was a firework at that night, and our mood was totally upbeat. Fireworks, lots of food, beer, energy and youth. One summer night in Prague was coming towards an end like that.