One thing I especially love about having studied abroad is that now I know people from all over the world. It means that when I travel to some countries, I have a contact there who can help me out.
The day before I left for my Euro trip, I went to Sognsvann with my friend Anne. I went swimming in the lake (which was just a wee bit cold) and afterwards was lying in the sun with Anne when I saw a guy from our Norwegian class, Martin, walk by with some of his friends. I shouted his name and he came over. As we talked I mentioned that I would be going to Prague, since Martin is Czech. He got really excited and asked when I was going, and mentioned that he would love to meet me and show me around. I was really happy he offered to show me around, so for the past few weeks we’ve been in contact and we established that we would meet in Prague on June 9th.
After a few hours on the train, I arrived in Prague. Martin, by some sixth sense or something, was standing right at the door to my carriage. We greeted each other and then started walking to the hostel. I gave Martin the address of my hostel a few days prior, so he looked it up and figured out how we would get there. It was a nice change from normally having to find the hostel by myself.
Prague is a very hilly city, and unfortunately my hostel was up a few hills. As we were struggling up yet another hill, Martin joked, “We’re mountain hiking.” It became a bit of a joke for the rest of the day between us.
I checked in, put my stuff in my room, which was dubbed “the pink room” (though disappointingly was not actually pink), and then Martin and I went to lunch. On the walk over to the restaurant we saw this TV antenna, which as you can see, has giant babies on it.
I should mention that Martin is one of those people who is unintentionally funny. That is, he doesn’t try to make jokes, but the things he says are just absolutely hilarious. For example, when we left the train station we were right by a park. Martin mentioned that it was “a horrible park.” Later when we were walking to the hostel, Martin was telling me how Prague is such a beautiful city. However hostels tend not to be in the best locations in the city, so we weren’t walking in a great area. Martin did not approve of this and said, “This is horrible. I’ve said that Prague is such a beautiful city and we’re walking through this.”
After lunch we took the metro towards Prague Castle. We walked through these beautiful gardens, then we started wandering through the castle complex. By the way, I should mention here that Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world, so obviously we didn’t walk through all of it. We did go into St. Vitus Cathedral, which had absolutely beautiful stained glass windows. As we walked through the castle complex, Martin pointed out all the buildings where government officials live.
First, I don’t understand why he knows exactly where every government official lives, but it’s hilarious. Second, if you wanted to target any Czech government official, Martin is the person to go see, apparently.
We next walked over to Charles Bridge, and on the way there we saw this inconspicuous man walking down the street. I didn’t give him a second glance, but Martin exclaimed, “That’s a famous Czech actor!” I told Martin that we could get a picture of him with the actor, and Martin seriously considered this. We quietly stalked the actor for a while before letting him escape.
We then came to Charles Bridge, which was scary in the sense that I have never seen so many tourists in one place before. It was insane, and Martin did not approve. Still, the bridge itself was beautiful and had many statues on it, and we got great views of the river and city from the bridge. I also rubbed a statue for good luck, so we’ll see if that worked.
Afterwards we went to the Astronomical Clock, which is the oldest working astronomical clock in existence. We happened to arrive at the clock just a few minutes before the top of the hour, so we staked out a good position then waited for the hour to come. When it finally did, the skeleton figure started ringing the bell while other figures moved past the open windows. The show didn’t last too long and I heard a few tourists remark that it was “disappointing,” but I thought it was cute.
Martin then took me to this building, then afterwards we walked to Wenceslas Square and the National Museum. We took a short break at Starbucks, since both Martin and I love it (though I wasn’t too happy at blowing $7 on a frappuccino… good grief), then Martin took me over to a cemetery in Prague that is the final resting place for many famous Czechs. The cemetery itself was filled with stunning artwork, so we walked around for a while just looking at everything. Martin pointed out some famous Czechs along the way.
We left the cemetery to walk along the river. We passed under some train tracks, and Martin said, “I hope your train tomorrow is okay.” I asked him what he meant and he said that Czech Railways are not good. Apparently he has some issues with Czech Railways since the staff (or whatever you call them) can be rude, the trains can be smelly, and the bathrooms gross. It doesn’t sound funny when I write it, but it was absolutely hilarious when Martin was telling me this.
Good ol’ Martin.
We came to the Dancing Building (Martin turned around and said, “Oh look, there it is”), so named because it is supposed to resemble a pair of dancers, then afterwards headed to the train station. Martin was heading back that night to his hometown, so we said goodbye and I thanked him profusely for the tour of Prague he gave me.
I made my way back to the hostel without getting lost once, met all my Asian roommates, then hit the hay. It was a great day–getting a free tour of a city is always fun, especially when it involves reuniting with a friend.