If you think that I’m not the same. Then I guess you’ve changed. Blackened by the temperature. Made to spare my name…
Every been to a museum at night? Well in good Ben Stiller fashion I now have. Last night was the Prague Museum night where most of the museums in the city (and there are a lot of them) were free and open from 7pm until 2am. Who goes to a museum at such times? Well it turns out loads of people do – it was like Boxing Day Sales at Chaddie packed. Justin and I went along to the National Museum where is an amazing, imposing building just a short walk from Justin’s apartment. We had both checked out the building from the outside loads of times but even he hadn’t gone in. It has a reputation of being an amazing building with uberlame exhibits so it is not quite worth the price of admission. However, when it is for free what do you have to lose?
We went along not expecting anything, but for starters the look down Wencelas Square at night was ace! The totally stereotypical postcard shot. When we went inside the building the interior of the building was even more amazing. The detail and quality of the interior is marvelous. It was at this point, after watching a crazy performance art piece that we assume was political as it was using quotes of the President but as it was all in Czech and it was crazy we aren’t sure, that we turned around, walked the 5 minutes back to the apartment and grabbed our cameras. We weren’t going to miss out of the amazing photo opportunities.
Once we had caught up with all the photos we had wanted to take and also navigated through the main stairwell which was blocked off for another performance (okay if there is just one stairwell…don’t hold a performance on it when the building is packed of people wanting to move from A to B! Logic is so scarce these days!), we started to explore some of the exhibits. Most were as had been described to us. Lame. The Hall of Rocks was just that, poorly designed to keep your interest and most of the descriptions were purely in Czech so what could we get out of them. The really interesting and brilliant exhibit was the temporary one about the “First Republic” about Czechoslovakia between World War 1 and World War 2. It was quite a prosperous time for the Czech people and they managed to do some wonderful things for what is one of the limited times where they weren’t being oppressed. Justin seemed to be interested in the history as it was connected to the place he know lives. I loved it as it was modern history. The discussion about how the republic ended with the invasion of Hitler, Munich Agreement, etc was SOOO interesting for me especially as I have grown up on the “Allies” view of history. Hearing about the Czechs not being invited to Munich where the discussion was about Hitler’s claims to the Sudetenland and even how Hitler could phrase such a ‘right’ was just well worth the trip on its own. The rest of the exhibit gave information about all aspects of the First Republic and there pretty much was something for everyone. Too bad it is just a temporary exhibit.
As we left the Museum at midnight…it was time for bed.
Sunday called for another day of tourist activities in Prague with Justin. It was just the two of us and Mum would be so proud about the amount of brotherly love going on. Fights have been at a bare minimum and the few minor ones have been as a result of Justin baiting me :P The day consisted of a few things that Justin had done before and somethings he hadn’t. Of course it was all new to me so it was really interesting. Firstly we were off to the Petrin look out tower. It supposedly has one of the best views of Prague, according to the guidebooks, and it is a smaller scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. Justin, who has been to Paris (which awaits me in about a month) says it is a pretty good replica. The tower is on the top of one of Prague’s many hills and instead of taking the trolley which is how Justin has been up there before we walked up the steep slow. Never let it be said my presence is not a good influence…although the only reason we walked up is although I don’t like climbing up hills, I hate waiting in lines even more. The park grounds you walk through are quite nice though so the walk wasn’t too bad.
Once we got to the tower and rehydrated it was time to enjoy the view from up the top of the 299 steps. Prague is a really interesting city. From one side of the tower all you see is industrial, ugly buildings and a couple of soccer stadiums. Every other angle has beautiful views. You can see for quite a distance. The main parts of the city are generally a sea of orange as roof after roof have those european tiles, but there are many “point bits” (as I described them) such as churches and bigger buildings that dot throughout the panorama and lead to it being a city view you could enjoy for a while. One thing I would’ve loved to see is to have seen some of the copper tops of the buildings back before they oxidised. It is also really interesting when you notice th ring of brightly coloured communist apartment blocks that ring the city almost as if besieging the town. The tower does shake a bit. It shakes enough that you feel it and I don’t think I could spend all day up ther swaying back and forth so we moved on.
Just around the corner is the Strahov Monastery. You still have ace views of Prague, but there are a few impressive buildings in the Monastery complex. The library is the main draw card but that was closed for lunch so we had to settle to wait until after we had a small lunch of our own until we saw that, but first we did check out the main church. It was one of those incredibly detailed churches. It is a shame you can only really look at it from the entrance as every corner was filled with amazingly intricate paintings and decorations. The frescoes on the roof were stunning and what caught my eyes the golden, delicately decorated “thing” at the end of the aisle. If I was more of a church going man I could probably tell you what the thing was. The library was equally beautifully decorated. The paintings on the ceiling represent the old and new testament and I am getting pretty good at picking the ‘main characters’ from likeness alone. It was the books that interest me most though. Old paper things are amazing, they shouldn’t last yet they do. The library is lined with thousands upon thousands of books that are hundreds and hundreds of years old. That is jawdropping for me. There were also a few world globes lying around that were pre European discovery of Australia. You only get the chance to gawk as tourists do, but I think it would be amazing to be able to read some of the books on those shelves. I was able to pick out a few copies of law books as well from my extremely limited latin knowledge.
It was then time to take the tram and the metro off to Vysehrad. It is known as Prague’s second castle and sits on a Plateau on the opposite side of the city to Prague castle. It was originally a castle built for defensive reasons and it is a shame very little of the structures remain to this day. From the model in the little museum thing it was quite a castle. However, once again due to its position on the hills that surround the city you get some dramatic views of Prague city and the river. Our day had been lovely for most of the day (although not perfect) and I could see this parkland being a beautiful place to just sit back and relax on a bright sunny day. There is a graveyard for Prague’s famous there and although we couldn’t recognise most of the names we have played enough music in our time to recognise Antonin Dvorak. We don’t really have our mother’s love of graveyards though so we didn’t spend hours there. The Chapel of SS Peter and Paul is also on the site and although damaged during World War 2 (one of the few Prague buildings to be bombed) it has been wonderfully restored. The guidebook describes its interior as a “swirling acid trip of colourful Art Nouveau frescoes” which I think pretty much describes it better than I could. I would just say it was awesome and well worth seeing. One thing that did catch my eye is that the weather had turned recently, dark storm clouds overhead, but the stained glass windows were still freakishly bright.
After navigating our way back to the Metro through the rain, we were back at Justin’s apartment resting up before dinner. We did make a good team getting through the rain relatively un-soaked though as Justin called the perfect time for us to pause and take shelter under the gate and I made the call to “go for it” just as we had a few minutes of light rain. Dinner was a group affair again and this time it was at Justin’s favourite place in Prague. Cantina is a Mexican place and I am not usually the biggest fan of Mexican food as I think you get really overcharged in Australia and the food is generally just not good. However, my burrito and Dacquri made it one of the best meals I have had in a long time. Justin has certainly picked up knowledge of a lot of good places in Prague. The night ended with a few scarily sweet and non-alcoholic tasting cocktails and I should probably stop typing as this is starting to get too long. Even by my standards lol
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