For the first time here in the Czech Republic, I was underwhelmed.
Due to sore feet and short on time, Sarah, Amy and I grabbed a cab up to Prague Castle and wound our way around the huge complex, the Church of St. Vitus, took a peek at the Golden Lane, and generally bobbed and weaved through the huge crowds there to take in the gothic and pink architecture. To be honest, I didn't find it all that impressive. Ok, so some aspect of St. Vitus' were pretty awesome, like the pink glow created by purple stained glass, but overall, the castle has more of a cool, fairytale aura from afar, on top of the huge hill overlooking the city. It looks best off in the landscape, as an untouchable fortress where some princess lies sleeping, rather than a jam-packed tourist trap with a horrendous queue for the toilets.
Maybe it was the fatigue, though, because in retrospect, all the ornate masonry and decor about the grounds really were awe-inspiring. I took solace in another classic Czech meal - goulash. My meat smothered in some brown sauce was accompanied by croquettes and another one of many dumplings I've had here, and it was mmmm mmmm good. The 70 cent stein of Pilsner Urquell didn't hurt, either.
We went across the Charles Bridge again, this time by day, where it was full of vendors hawking trinkets, an old-world organ grinder and a few other buskers, and once again, many of the prostrated beggars that each time becomes a more depressing sight. Especially when one of them has a starving puppy with him.
In between all the shopping stops (it's the girls' last day and all) we went inside the Church of St. Nicholas and gawked at the huge, fancy organ that Mozart once played, and which is still in use today. It didn't really sink in right away that there I was, staring at something freaking Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played, and that it's not in some museum, but used in an actual, live venue daily.
We also took the opportunity to go up the tower that houses the Astronomical Clock, which provided amazing panoramic views of the entire city and a top-down view of the Old Town Square. Prague is spectacular from the ground, but being able to peer across all the brick-red rooftops puts in on a whole new level of wonder.
As late afternoon rolled around, it was time for the girls to head to Paris. I wish I could've joined them, but hey, been there, done that, right? Besides, I'm here to immerse myself a bit and maybe work on my Czech, which has been pretty helpful so far. I bid them adieu at the taxi stand on Wenceslas Square and lugged my backpack down Vodickova Street to the Golden Sickle hostel.
The Golden Sickle's not bad, but it's certainly not the greatest hostel I've ever stayed at. The rooms seem comfy enough and my three Danish roomies are cool guys, but the whole place has this clinical staleness that makes it feel more institutional than communal and fun. If anything, it's probably the first sense of "Soviet Bloc" that I've gotten since I've been here, which is cool. In fact, I was hoping to end up somewhere that'd catch a bit of that zeitgeist, though I never thought it'd be where I'm sleeping.
I'm not sure what to do tonight. There are club and bar options galore, and not all of them touristy, but I'm just not feeling motivated at the moment. Oh well. The night is young - hell, it's a fetus if you want to kill that metaphor. Who knows what I'll get up to... there's beer to be had.