Prague, Czech Republic, 14th - 17th June 2019
Digital Electronics was finally over, and it was time to make use of what remaining time I had left in Europe. Having booked the trip to Prague far in advance (about more than a month), I was looking forward to what Prague had in stall for us.
Upon finishing my Digital Electronics paper, I said my last goodbyes to my course mates and my amazing math tutor. Following a lunch at Franco Manca, we made our way to London Luton Airport where we waited for our flight (that was delayed by 1.5 hours).
Mandatory photo of passports
The flight to Prague was a smooth one, but the delay resulted in us landing in Prague later than expected. Fortunately we arrived just in time to catch the last bus back to our apartment. Our apartment was located at Andel, which was pretty close to the city centre of Prague. In addition, there were easily accessible trams all around which made travelling much easier.
The ticketing system in Prague is similar to that of Poland/Oslo/Germany, where it is on a trust-based system. You buy the necessary ticket, and you punch in on board the tram. The downside of the public transport in Prague is that these ticketing machines are not available at every tram station, and whilst some of the trams might allow you to pay wirelessly, most do not, and thus resulting in people not paying for the ride at all. We arrived at the apartment at 1am and settled for the night.
For the morning of Day 2, I made a decision to split from Jia Ying and Jing Ying to visit the Sedlec ossuary, which was a 1.5 hour train ride from Prague. After a hearty breakfast, I made a dash to the train station, eventually getting a ticket 1 minute before train departure, and hopping onto the train in a nick of time. The trains in Prague are not very frequent, which meant that missing one would mean having to wait another 1-2 hours for the next one.
Upon arriving at Kutna Hora after a 1 hour train journey, I made my way to the Sedlec Ossuary (one of the destinations on my bucket list) The history of the Sedlec Ossuary, commonly known as the "Bone Church," begins in the 1200s, when the abbot of the Sedlec monastery brought back some "holy soil" from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. With the plague and the Hussite wars causing a lot of deaths around the area, the bodies were dug up and moved to the chapel to form pyramids. Those piles stood until they took their modern form in 1870, when an artisan was hired by a noble family to turn them into intricate decorations for the chapel.
Here is what the Sedlec Ossuary, which is said to contain the bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, looks like today:
The Ossuary was not big, and I covered it in about 30 minutes. After which, I made my way to the Cathedral of Assumption, for a quick tour around. With the next train back to Prague coming in about an hour, I decided to make my way to the nearby bowling alley to have a pint and a few games of bowling. Definitely one of the perks of not having a schedule to follow.
Having lost track of time, I made yet another mad rush back to the station, making it just on time again. Along the ride back, 2 Czechs that were sitting beside me offered me wine, and started talking to me in sign language (as we both did not understand each other’s languages). Thankfully with the help of google translate, we were able to make some small talk, and the journey back to Prague felt so much faster than usual. After arriving at Prague, I bid the 2 of them goodbye, and made my way to the Old Town to catch up with my friends.
Upon meeting my friends, we made our way around the old town hall, finally ending at the vantage point that allowed us to have a bird’s eye view of Prague. After snapping whatever pictures we wanted to snap, we headed back down to the markets that surrounded the Old Town.
It was sweltering hot in Prague, reaching temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius. Fortunately, there were some kind souls offering to spray passer-bys with water, which I gladly accepted.
After buying some hot sausages and cool beer from the open markets, we walked around Prague some more to soak in the atmosphere and the beautiful sights. Along the way there were many tourist groups from Korea/China, and we ended up having a chat with some of them. Time flies when you are enjoying it, and soon enough it was time for dinner. After a scrumptious dinner of pork loin, we searched for better things to do. We ended up going for a movie (X-Men Dark Phoenix) at the nearby cinema. After the movie, we headed out for some drinks (alcohol in Prague is really cheap), before returning back to the apartment for the night.
A spiritual night
Having had much to drink the previous night, we started off the day late and proceeded to have breakfast at a pancake place. Conveniently located near the Prague castle, it was a short walk towards the main attraction of Prague. Thought to be the largest ancient castle in the world, Prague Castle covers an area of over 18 acres (seven hectares) and is made up of several incredible baroque and gothic structures. Although the history of the castle dates back to the ninth century, it didn’t always look as it does today. The first construction (of which only ruins remain) was the Church of the Virgin Mary, built around the year 870. A few decades later, St. Wenceslas and his father added two other religious buildings within the grounds: St. George’s Basilica and St. Vitus Cathedral, which has since become the final resting place of many Bohemian kings. St. George’s Basilica is perhaps best known for being the setting of many organ and classical music concerts. After a massive fire in the mid-1500s, Prague Castle was restored again, only to be severely damaged during the Bohemian Revolt and succeeding battles – and then looted by the Swedes in 1648 as part of an ongoing war.
The Prague Castle was filled with visitors (especially with it being a Sunday), but we did manage to capture a few great photos of the castle. I walked around the castle, attempting to appreciate the various artworks present (but to no avail). After spending roughly about 3 hours in the castle, we headed back to the Old Town for more gelato as well as a pint or two.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We had dinner at a local restaurant (U Magistra Kelly), which served excellent pork knuckles. Once again, we ordered 2 pints of beer to go together with our food. With nothing much left to do, we headed off to the cinemas once more, this time for Detective Pikachu. We originally thought that there would be more to do in Prague, but the best holidays are the most chill ones, and we definitely did appreciate the slow lifestyle.
Enjoying a few pints of beer
We checked out of our apartment at 10am, and spent the rest of the day going around Vysehrad castle, a fortress that had a vantage point over Prague. A perfect place for photos, we took a series of shots that had an overview of Prague. At lunch, I received a text from my friend that he was in Prague too, thus we met for more drinks and a catch up session.
After walking around the Old Town one last time, we finally made our way back to the Airport, and took the night flight back to London Luton.
Overall this trip was really relaxed, with not much actually planned to do. With 3 more years left, I will probably head back to Prague one more time for the romantic atmosphere and terribly cheap drinks.