sexta-feira, 10 de junho de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 15

Day 15 - or trying to reach the top

As usual I bravely fought the cold and the laziness which were constantly there to haunt me and got up and bought some supplies in the bakery near the apartment.
I got the subway and instead of getting off before the river, I got off just after the bridge, right into the Jewish district. The streets were very similar to the ones downtown, but there was a difference by the number of synagogues one could see. I entered one of them, as it said it was also a museum, but to have access to the inside of the place or the the museum, one had to pay an entrance fee which was more than what I had paid for lunch in a fancy restaurant the day before. As I was not so into religious stuff and I remembered a lot of jokes about Jews and money (no antisemitism intended), I decided to go to other parts of town. I walked and walked a bit, till I arrived at a bridge. Crossing it I could see a hill and there was something up there but I had no idea what. Could it be the castle? I got the feeling it was the castle.

But the only way I could get there was to go up a set of stairs which were a bit full of snow. I remembered Louis in Belgium telling us how dangerousit was to mix snow and stairs, that we should be double careful because a lot of people died climbing or going down stairs in the winter. I was afraid, I could see some people on the other side, they looked locals but they were having a hard time trying to go down the stairs to arrive where I was. But there was no one around to tell me it was not a good idea, so I started the journey upstairs.

The boots I was wearing were not the most appropriate ones. They were slippery, which made it more difficult for me to keep on. By the picture, you can see that the left side was a bit less full of snow, so it was the side I decided to try. I would constantly stop, look down to see if I should go back but the idea of going back seemed even worse than continuing. I was sweating despite the cold wind. I started grabbing the tree branches and the wall. Each step, a new possibility. Slips. I had less than 50 to go now. How long had I been doing that? Half an hour? Why was I being so suicidal? Whatever the answer was, I got up there and it was really worth it.
There was a belvedere from which I could see the whole city. And there was a park, empty at that time and maybe because it was so difficult to get up there. After some time I would discover it would have been easy if I had taken the tram, but not as exciting. I walked around the park and sat on a bench where I could see the city and take some of the most beautiful pictures, in regard to landscapes.

I started crossing the park to see where I would end up and I discovered that was the park just beside the Royal Garden. If that was the RG, the castle wold not be very far from me. So I was correct. By the way, that golden tower I had seen, similar to a lighthouse was a restaurant in the park. Following my directional instincts, there it was, I had finally made it. The castle.

After the peace and quiet of the park with almost no living soul, me and the landscape, the castle was swarming with tourists. The ticket was not so cheap again but it included the visit in more than 5 attractions. In fact, you could choose a more economic version, depending on your interest. The attractions I mean here are: the castle itself, the St. Vitus cathedral, the museum of history, the convent, St. George Basilica. There are all the attractions here. I spent a long time going through the castle and the museum of history. My luck I had read a lot about Prague history in my new guide, so I knew about the settlement of Prague, the wars and kings. So the museum served as an illustration of my studies. I didn’t want to purchase a headphone guide, but there were explanatory texts and all. It was possible to take pictures and I put two here as illustration.

In the cathedral

The convent

Because it took me so long to visit all the attractions, as I had paid for the combo with 5 (one would be open only after 3 pm, so I decided not to wait. I was hungry and I decided to go down trying to find a nice and cheap restaurant. I ended up eating a big sandwich at Subway. Eating Subway would always remind me of Carol, so it was a kind of homage to her. Then I decided to look for a store to buy some gifts and it was quite difficult to find one in the part of town I was. It was very cold, I believe that was the coldest day I got in Europe. I believe it was -10 or -12. My nose was so cold I was afraid it was going to break in my hand when I put both hands to heat it. I didn’t feel like walking so I went “home” by tram. I had not taken any and I took 3. I had no idea where I was going but I remembered number 12 would drop me near. Or was it number 19? Anyway, it was already dark when I got there.

Something bad that happened this day was that there was no friend of the day. Considering my host the first day and his flatmate and Marek in the second, it was the first day I met no one new. Well, it would not be the only day, but the mission was going well till then.

I started packing since my bus to Vienna the next day would be very early. My luck was that the international bus station was in Florenc, so I would be able to get there walking and it was 10 minutes away (so I didn’t have to wake up much ealier). We still had some time to talk, as it was not so late at night. There were the rituals of saying goodbye for Jiri: he keeps a guestbook, in which his guests can write any impressions they had. Also, a drawing book, but I didn’t have time for drawing. I wrote him a poem. A list of how to say toilet in my language. And a traditional picture.
We sat on the kitchen, talking, drinking tea, and a lot of drinks - specially a tasty rum made of sugar beet known as tuzemák - and we talked about the capitals of the world and Brazil and many other things. It was a lovely way to say goodbye.

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