14.08.2006 22 °C
Since nobody in the dorm was awake I figured I was going to have to explore Prague by myself.
I went straight to the old town square, which is probably the best old town square I've seen, surrounded by beautifully painted buildings, the huge grand St Nicholas church and a huge statue where everyone meets. I was just in time to watch the famous Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall strike 11. A huge crowd had formed underneath it and I innocently jumped in front of them all. Which is one of the few benefits of being short. So when the big hand got to twelve, a weird little skeleton rang a bell, and a parade of cut-out saints filed past a window, and that was that. I don't know what I was expecting, dancing pigs or something but it was a bit disappointing.
The climb up to the top of the tower in the Old Town Hall is well worth it. Well, I say climb, but actually there's a lift, which is handy. It gives a brilliant panaramic view across the red roofs (sp?)of the old town and beyond.
I wandered around taking photos of old buildings until hunger got the better of me. I went up to the old Jewish quarter which has a tiny cemetery full of so many gravestones that they are all higglety-pigglety and back to back. The cemetery is actually raised up, because when they ran out of room they had to just keep burying people on top of each other. There is a museum of Jewish artifacts which I didn't go in, but the sinister story is, that most of the treasures were actually stolen by the Nazis, who planned to display them as a "museum of an extinct race".
After a traditional lunch of roast pork, cabbage and dumplings, I wandered over to the river to look at an old bridge. Charles Bridge, was built in 1357, but until as late as 1841 was the only bridge in the city. It's lined with statues of saints, postcard stalls and portrait painters, and hundreds of slow moving tour groups. In the past they used to throw people off it for various crimes.
Later I decided to learn something by going to a museum about communism, when I finally found it tucked between McDonalds and a Casino. It was one of those museums where you just walk round reading poorly translated, long winded explanations, with few photos and posters, but hey, its educational.
Since it was my birthday I decided enough was enough and went to meet the people I'd met on the train at their hostel. Their Hostel seemed so much more sociable than mine, everyone was mixing, and the beer was only 20 crowns. Soon we left to go into town and meet the American couple from the train. Tuesday is never the best night anywhere, but after walking miles we eventually found some nice bars open late. and so it turned out to be quite a good birthday, even if I did go to a museum.