Prague, Czechia, 17th-19th December 2019
In a blink of an eye, our trip to Barcelona was over. We landed in Prague in the afternoon, and took and uber to our accommodation. With Uber prices here being cheaper than public transport (shared amongst 4), it was a no brainer to uber everywhere we went. A 45 minutes ride only cost each of us 3 pounds, not to mention that these drivers are really skilled to be able to drive on Czech roads.
Upon checking into our apartment, we were pleasantly surprised at the size of our accommodation. Possessing 2 rooms and a living room/kitchen as well as a balcony, there was more than enough space for us. As the sun was setting, we left for a nearby Czech restaurant, U Houdku, which served authentic Czech food. Jia Wang and I ordered a small meat platter, which was clearly anything but small. Consisting of 1 whole rib, a pork knuckle, and 10 chicken drumsticks, it proved to be a challenge to finish the platter. After some time and 3 pints of beer, we managed to finish all but a single drumstick. I literally ate 2 kg worth of food that meal.
After an extremely filling dinner, we headed to crème la crème for gelato (there is always room for dessert), where I had my 17th gelato scoop. Being extremely close to the city centre, we passed by the astronomical clock, as well as the old town hall square. The Christmas markets that filled the old town hall square brought the place to live as I soaked myself in the festivities. Following that, we had a good stroll back to our apartment, where we rested for the night.
Prague Old Town Hall
Being tired of the hustle and bustle of Prague (and also having been here before), I decided to let my friends continue exploring Prague while I took a break and visited the outskirts of Czechia. My first destination was Bohemian Switzerland, the film site of The Lion, the Beast, and the Wardrobe, from the Chronicles of Narnia. After a tiring 3-4km hike up the hill, we arrived at a vantage point where we could witness Pravcicka Brana, the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe. Unfortunately, the restaurant operating there was closed, so I could not proceed any further. Nonetheless, I took a few shots of the place, and hiked back down.
After the hike (and lunch), I made my way up to Germany’s Saxon Switzerland, where the bastion bridge was at. The Bastei has been a tourist attraction for over 200 years. In 1824, a wooden bridge was constructed to link several rocks for the visitors. This bridge was replaced in 1851 by the present Bastei Bridge made of sandstone. The rock formations and vistas have inspired several well-known artists, among them Caspar David Friedrich ("Felsenschlucht"). The scenery from atop the Bastei was breathtaking, and the fresh air was something that I did not get very often in the cities I visited.
Soon enough, the sun was setting, and it was time for me to head back to Prague. We met for dinner at a Chinese restaurant (which honestly did not taste too good), before returning to our apartments for the night.
We woke up to an early morning, leaving our apartment for Terezin. Terezin is a former military fortress, and by 1940 Germany assigned the Gestapo to adapt Terezín, better known by the German name Theresienstadt, as a ghetto and concentration camp. Considerable work was done in the next two years to adapt the complex for the dense overcrowding that inmates would be subjected to. It held primarily Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as tens of thousands of Jews deported chiefly from Germany and Austria, as well as hundreds from the Netherlands and Denmark. More than 150,000 Jews were sent there, including 15,000 children. Although it was not an extermination camp, about 33,000 died in the ghetto. This was mostly due to the appalling conditions arising out of extreme population density, malnutrition and disease. About 88,000 inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. As late as the end of 1944, the Germans were deporting Jews to the death camps. At the end of the war, there were 17,247 survivors of Theresienstadt (including some who had survived the death camps). (Source: Wikipedia)
Terezin Concentration Camp
After a simple breakfast, we proceeded to the Jewish Ghetto museum, as well as the small fortress, witnessing the atrocities committed by the Nazis back in 1938-1945. With a very heavy mist surrounding us, the entire place felt like a ghost town, and one couldn’t help but notice the eerie atmosphere.
By mid noon, we had seen enough, and decided to head back to Prague for lunch. We had some traditional Czech cuisine at Lokal, before heading to the Clementinum, the home of the most beautiful library in Prague. Housing a collection of over 40,000 books, more than 20,000 of which are originals, it was a sight to behold. I could not help but wonder how amazing it would be if I could study in a library like that.
After the tour of Clementinum (and some really nice views of Prague), we headed for Dinner at 3 Little Pigs. Specialising in pork, the ribs and pork chop that I had there was truly amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone who happens to pass by that restaurant. Tired from a long day of walking (and eating), we went back to our apartment in preparation for our Germany trip.