A Travellerspoint blog

January 2015

Kutna Hora

The plan for this morning was to be up in time to have breakfast and checkout at 7 (when breakfast at the hotel begins) and then get to the train station in time to catch the first train that would get us to Kutna Hora around opening time.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We were at breakfast on-time, and it was a decent breakfast. It took us a while to get moving though, and we mad it to the train station, bought our tickets, and then saw we were about a minute too late for the train.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Since the next train was an hour later, we wandered the station for a little and used the free wifi. Finally, it was train time. <br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The train car was roomy and comfortable. It reminds me of the train car they sit in on the ride to Hogwarts, but with clear doors so that you can see the scenery from both sides of the train.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Near Prague, the scenery was mostly forested, which in winter means a bunch of leafless trees. As we got further out, the scenery changed to fields and villages more than trees.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We changed trains at Kolin, and continued to Kutna Hora main station. The lady at the ticket desk in Prague had told us to go to Kutna Hora Mesto (and sold us tickets to there), so we changed to this tiny little train that looked more like a bus. It only has 3 stops- the main station, the center station, and the downtown station (mesto). <br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">When we got off, there weren't really signs telling us where to go, and the map the lady at the train station gave us didn't have the Bone Church clearly identified. When I asked about it, she said, what sounded to me like "Barbarosa." I had a map saved to my phone, but it didn't seem to jive with anything on the map she gave me, so we assumed google was wrong and found some locals. Of course, they didn't speak English, so we cleverly showed them a picture we had on an ad for Kutna Hora tours from Prague. "Ah, Barbarosa," they all said, and pointed us on our way.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We passed through a very cute, quaint town. It was worth the uphill walk just to see the town. Every time we stopped and showed a local the picture, they were very helpful, constantly pointing us to Barbarosa, until we got close enough that there were signs to St. Barbara's.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The church itself has a great view, a lovely walkway, and is very beautiful. The architecture is stunning. Finally, at the church, I went inside and asked, is this the bone church?<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">No.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">It wasn't.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The bone church is so far across town that it is not on the map the train lady gave me. It is located between the first 2 train stations in town, and the map I saved to my phone showed how to get there from the middle train station, not the one we were told to go to. So basically, we walked uphill 20 minutes to the wrong site. However, it was beautiful and totally worth seeing. I was glad that we accidentally stumbled onto a UNESCO world heritage sight that we didn't plan on seeing. <br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">the tourist office lady gave me a new map showing all of the tourist sites in town, as well as where the bus stops to get us there are. We didn't know how much time it would take the bus (the map said 30 mins), and we thought we'd be short on time, so we didn't really stay at St. Barbara's enough to really look around too much.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">On the way to the bus stop, we passed another of the town's famous historical sites. Just as we started waiting for the bus, it started to snow. Really, it was barely flurrying, but since it's been years since I've seen snow fall, I'll take what I can get. <br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We got on the bus, and it was way less than 30 minutes to the bone church, maybe because there was only one other person who got on or off the bus the entire time we were on it. I enjoyed seeing the non-touristy parts of town and how "real" Czech people lived in the countryside. Some were of the areas were clearly built in the Soviet era, but had been painted in bright colors to make them fun and unusual- the standard Czech "anti-soviet" rebellion. The driver was really nice and told us just where to get off and pointed us in the right direction, even though he didn't speak any English.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The Ossuary itself was very cool. They had a paper they handed out in various languages that explains the place. The summary: a lot of people were buried here in old (1200s era) time and some conquerors came and tore it up. A half-blind monk took the bones of 40,000 people and used them to decorate the church, all while following the "religious people rules of bone decoration." He got his sight back when he was done.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The Ossuary is very cool to see, the highlight being a chandelier of bones. It is only one room, so it doesn't take long. (Technically, there is a chapel upstairs and a pretty cemetery outside, but those aren't the good parts.) To come to Kutna Hora just for the Ossuary is probably not worth it. I'm really glad we also saw the town, church, and cathedral. To make a day trip to see them all IS worth it. Or, in our case, a half-day trip.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">After the church, we walked to the main train station and enjoyed the snow some more. We got a direct train back to Prague and rearranged our plans.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">My travel partner wanted to go shopping again. I did more shopping yesterday than I can really handle, I feel that I fulfilled my promise to go shopping, I feel that spending my time in a mall is a big waste, and I had seen an ad for a 1 hour underground tour that looked interesting, so we decided to split up for a few hours.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Unfortunately, today was apparently "show up a minute too late day." I was technically on time for the tour, but since they had already left, that didn't really help me any.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Instead, I asked the tourist info lady what museum she would recommend if I only had an hour. She circled a spot on Bethlehem street and told me that they have a great exhibit on native cultures.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I got to Bethlehem street easily enough, and went into the first museum that I saw. It turned out to be a free modern art museum. It was interesting, but there wasn't a whole lot to see there. It also wasn't the museum I was looking for.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">So, when I exited, I looked around for the goal museum. I found an architecture museum right across the street, so I went in there, thinking that maybe it had something. It was a one-room display on dilapidated buildings that had been restored/modernized. It was just a bunch of posters with pictures that somebody hung up. I think it would make an interesting book if somebody printed the pages a bit smaller, but there really wasn't a need to print them large and call it a museum. I did find it interesting, though, just not enough to want to stand around reading everything.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Again, when I exited I looked around for the goal museum. Finally, I realized the fancy gate-looking thing was the entrance to the entrance of the museum.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">This really was the museum she suggested, N&aacute;prstek Museum. It is part of the Czech national museum system, so there are several buildings. However, I only went to the one. The displays had nothing to do with anything Czech, but were interesting nonetheless. The 2 big topics they covered were Azerbaijan and Pacific Island native culture. The first was in English, the second wasn't, but had a lot more items and a lot less to read anyway. I enjoyed it more than the mall.

I did eventually go back to the mall to meet up with my friend. She showed me another cheese stand and I tried a bunch of the cheeses, and again picked a few to bring back. There were some cheeses I'd had before, but also quite a few new ones, including a really sweet, creamy gorgonzola dulce.

At this point, most of the tourist things were shutting down and there wasn't too much to do other than dinner and then go to the airport. W were pretty tired, but wandered around old town trying to find just the right place before stopping at an Italian restaurant, Pizzeria de Sherry. I had homemade tagliatelli that was great and FINALLY tried a Pilsner Urquel, the Czech beer. It tasted like a light beer. It was still not to my taste and I didn't drink a lot, but it was light enough that I could at least get some down.

After dinner, we headed back to the airport, exhausted, but happy that we had been able to go on a short getaway.

Czech countryside

Czech countryside


Kutna Hora town

Kutna Hora town


Kutna Hora town

Kutna Hora town


Statue on way to St. Barbara's

Statue on way to St. Barbara's


St. Barbara's

St. Barbara's


Monastery

Monastery


Soviet style architecture

Soviet style architecture


Bone Church

Bone Church


Bone Church

Bone Church

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Prague, part 2

So, even though I was just here, a friend wanted to go somewhere and Up had some great prices for good weekend flights to Prague. So, we're here for the weekend.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">For those who haven't flown Up, it's Elal's discount airline, and like all discount airlines, they charge for everything. Fortunately, we checked in online, only had backpacks for luggage, and ate before the flight, so the only real way we felt "discount" was by the lack of legroom.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Upon arrival in Prague, we got a 24-hr public transit pass and headed downtown. We walked around Wencelas square and stopped at one of the 7 Starbucks on the square, since my friend had never had Starbucks before. Seriously- it seemed like there was a Starbucks on every corner. I got "Prague cake," which is a very good chocolate cake. We also stopped at a great cheese store and I bought some very good Gran Moravia cheese. It was halfway between a good cheddar and a parmesan.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Next, we walked right past our hotel and into old town, where we saw the astronomical clock and heard some band playing in the square. In general, we did a lot of stuff today that I already saw, so I won't spend a lot of time on those details. We walked up to the river, and had a very calm stroll over to one of the bridges, and then walked across it.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">From there, we went up the funicular to the top of the city. We enjoyed the nice view, and even played in the snow a bit. That was a nice, but unexpected treat. We walked through the park down to the middle funicular "station" and then finished taking the funicular back down.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Next stop was the castle. This time, the cathedral was open, and so I was able to go in. It's a pretty standard cathedral, but the stained glass was gorgeous.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The castle grounds were quite a bit colder than the rest of the city, so we descended the main ramp back to where it was a bit warmer.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We decided that it was hotel time. We are staying at the Hotel Melantrich, which is about a block from the Mustek metro station right downtown in the middle of things. It's a lot nicer than what I usually stay in, but was also reasonably priced, despite the great location and great quality.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">After getting settled, we went to the mall. Yes, you read that right and no, I don't mean a grassy area like the National Mall in DC. I mean a real shopping mall. My travel partner had said that she'll go with me (tomorrow) to Kutna Hora if I go shopping with her. I warned her that I am not the most useful shopping buddy, but promised to try.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">So, she picked out the malls she wanted to go to and today, we went to one at the Andel metro stop. First, we went to the food court, because we were starving. There are a lot of international chains there, but I also found a local chain that was fast-food vegetarian. They had a by-weight buffet, and I enjoyed all the food I got there. Next, we did shopping. I think she was a bit frustrated because she had been told that all the brand-names were less expensive here than home. Instead, they all had the same items at the same prices. In the end, our only purchases were a few food items from the grocery store. I'll admit that this is not how I want to spend my vacation, but it is also important to me that she gets to do things she wants, as well.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">After our less-than-successful shopping trip, we came back to the hotel to get ready for going out. The plan was: dinner, pub, club. We made it to dinner ok. We had some buffet-style Indian food that was spices-spicy, but not hot-spicy. Also, it wasn't particularly temperature-hot.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We attempted to find a pub that is famous for being very old, but ended up walking past it. At this point, my travel buddy decided that it was maybe a bit too cold to be going out in tights and a sleeveless dress. Also, it was pretty early to be going to pubs, so we ended up back at the hotel again, this time to change and nap.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">There was actually a place next door, but just walking in coated us in a thick layer of smoke. I turned right around because I couldn't breathe. So, when we finally headed out, we asked the guy at the front desk where to go that was good and not too smokey. He seemed to be under the impression that most places were smoke-free, and sent us to a place by Charles bridge.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We first walked the bridge at night and took in the gorgeous views of the city lit up at night. Then, we went over to the club, Karlovy Lazne, which was billed as "the largest music club in Central Europe" or something like that. The cover wasn't too bad- about $7, but that only included entrance to the 5 floors. There was also an ice bar on the ground floor, so naturally, we had to try it.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The entrance was "free" but you had to buy a drink for about $8 in order to get in, and they had a timer on the wall telling you how much time you had left in there. My recommendation is to do the ice bar first or last because the thick hooded ponchos they give you aren't quite enough and the coat check ladies won't let you add or take off things from the coat check without paying again.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">In any case, it's worth doing once, if you're there, but not something I really need to do again or would go out of my way to do. It's basically a room where they line the walls with a coating of ice. Then, they get some ice sculptors to make a bar, a few tables, and some decorations out of ice, but there are also things frozen within the ice. The glasses are made of ice. It's pretty much what it sounds like- an ice bar.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">We also went to the other floors. A few of them had good music, but were full of smoke. A few of them had less-good music, but they were pretty empty and had good air, so we danced there for a while. We headed out just as the place was filling up, but we were both tired, and the areas with air that wasn't choking me were shrinking rapidly.

Town Hall

Town Hall


Winter view from funicular

Winter view from funicular


Cathedral St. Vitus

Cathedral St. Vitus


Inside St. Vitus Cathedral

Inside St. Vitus Cathedral


IceBar

IceBar

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Yoga. MMMMMMM.

Yay!!! My bff's sister came to Israel this weekend! Unfortunately though, it was raining. For many Israelis, that means not even leaving the house as if they're made of sugar and will melt. For us, that just meant more indoor activities.

We started at Yoga class. We both have done what I'll call "fitness yoga" in the states. This is yoga with a lot of standing positions, yoga that focuses on strength, balance, and flexibility. This is not what we got at Prana Yoga College. The yoga there was what I'll call sleepytime yoga. Not what we were expecting, but still fun.

The entrance is a bit hard to find as it's at the back of a building. You'll know you're there by the pile of shoes out back. Enter, and the greeting area looks like it was decorated by some hippies. It's calm, and they offer you tea. They had a free class, but we took the class with live music. The class is in a back room that is also decorated in a very hippie manner- large swaths of fabric hanging from the ceiling, buddhas, Asian wall hangings. Up front, the musician was playing flute, drums, something that sounded almost like chimes, and who knows what else. The music wasn't rhythmical at all, and it wasn't workout music. It was what I'd describe as relaxing white noise. It fit in very well with the class. Mostly, we were on the mats on our backs. There was a lot of stretching. There was a lot of breathing. There was a lot of closing our eyes. We did stand up at some point, but then we did more stretching and breathing. Finally, she had us on our backs on our mats, with a pillow under our head, a log pillow under out knees, and a blanket over our bodies. We were told to close our eyes. I'm thinking naptime. It felt very slow and relaxing, if a tad boring for somebody active like me. So I was utterly surprised when she told us our 2 hours were over. It did not feel like the class was half that long, but the clocks outside agreed with her. All in all, if you're into relaxation stuff, I highly recommend this. If you're looking for a workout, not so much.

Afterwards, we grabbed a bite to eat near Dizengoff, since it was very close. There aren't a ton of places open on Saturday, but there are some. For dessert, we went on a Krembo hunt and eventually ate some while standing for cover in a convenience store as the rain had picked up a bit. During a lull, we went again exploring and found ourselves in an empty market. It was pretty interesting to see all of the boarded-up stands and abandoned displays with nobody selling of buying because it's Saturday. It's quite a different experience from during the week when the area is busy can crammed with people.

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Israel Comments (0)