Monday, 17 August 2015

Travel: Bohemia

Today I would love to tell you about my latest adventures in Bohemia.
Weirdly enough I had never been there although I'm living rather close to the Czech border. It was 3 hours by bus to Prague and 30 € return. Well, what can I say? Prague is just incredible. The weather was fantastic (30-35°C every day) which meant heaps of sunshine and nights spent in hotpants. On my first day I went on a tour up to the castle, a guided walk around town and a boat cruise to get to know everything. That's what I usually choose to do when I get to a new town so I can decide which places I want to visit again during my stay. Also, I love hearing about the history and architecture of new places and how they're tied to the general historical context. It just makes you understand a lot of things a lot better that you had so far only heard of in history lessons and TV documentaries.

St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle

View from Prague Castle over the vineyards and the city

On Tuesday I took a tour to Kutná Hora (which is, according to the tour guide, the capital of Crystal Meth. No clue if that is correct though.). Now if that name doesn't ring a bell maybe the Bone Chapel does. It's a chapel filled with the skeletons of 40.000 (!) people that were dug out from the surrounding cemetery due to lack of space. In the 19th century artist František Rint created several pieces of art from the skeletons like a huge chandelier or a bird entirely made from human bones. As I've always been very interested in the baroque Memento Mori and Vanitas art and literature this was really totally my thing. I could stand in this chapel for hours trying to imagine what the skull in front of me might have looked like as a human and pondering on how similar we all look once our hair and flesh is gone. It makes me reflect about life and about fashion and about identity. That was definitely an amazing one of a kind experience although I would've preferred a night tour with less other people there to enjoy its eerie beauty to the fullest.

Can you spot the bird?

Before and after.

Kutna Hora has a lot of other interesting things to offer though. Mining had made the town rich in past centuries and beautiful cathedrals and fountains still pay tribute to the hard working miners. If you ever get the chance - this place is worth a visit!

After a little rest I went to the biggest club in central Europe that night. I love huge clubs as I usually get bored pretty quickly and I enjoy seeing hundreds and thousands of new faces I've never seen in my life. I had never been to an oxygen bar before and I'm pretty sure it's absolutely pointless but I gave it a try :D It was really relaxing and smelled like lavender so... yeah :D After that I ran into the most handsome Dutch guy who I'll probably never see again but - hey Cameron, I enjoyed your company!

Oxygen bar
I was super impressed by the Franz Kafka museum as there was really everything there is to know about this amazing author. But there wasn't only information in a couple of rooms. The design just matched the content perfectly. I absolutely loved how Kafka's aversion against his job at the office was depicted by rooms full of huge overwhelming file cabinets while information on his instable relationships to women was displayed in hanging boxes that swung back and forth as soon as someone tried to lean on them. Definitely a must-see for literature geeks like me. So if you love his unique texts and are interested in his life and work - it's so worth it!

Franz Kafka statue
On the last day I visited the Jewish quarter with its synagogues where you can learn a lot about Jewish history in Europe. To be honest I have never been to a synagogue before (at least not knowingly) and it was very impressive to me. I got the combo ticket that allowed me to visit several synagogues, the Old Jewish Cemetery as well as the Town Hall. I was a little sad though that I didn't have another day left as the visit to the Jewish quarter got me very interested in visiting the town/ghetto/concentration camp Terezín. It's defnitely on my agenda for my next visit. This whole topic definitely isn't fun but it's interesting nonetheless and shouldn't be left aside when visiting Bohemia.

And then of course there were all the amazing small things: cooling my feet in the water on one of the little islands in the Vlatava river after a long day. Watching the paddleboats go by with their little lanterns flickering in the night. Listening to one of the musicians in Old Town Square just sitting on the warm cobblestone. Having the most amazing almond-mushroom risotto in the peaceful inner yard of the U Laury restaurant in Lesser Town.
I will most definitely visit again rather sooner than later :3


John Lennon Graffiti wall in Lesser Town

Dinner at U Laury (which is Czech for "Laura's place")

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