Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
There are certain places in the world that hold traces of the past. These places, though few and far in between, are literally like a time machine that gives you a glimpse of the old world. One such a place is Prague, in the Czech Republic. On a spur of the moment decision, I visited there in 2003. It was my first time traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. After the 17 hour plane trip, I took a cab to Prague Center, located in the heart of the city. The very first thing I noticed, aside from the cobblestone streets, was that the majority of the architecture of the buildings and homes were virtually untouched from the middle ages. Crossing the bridge over the Prague River, I searched high and low for my hotel, located on ‘Stenburkoba’ street. Once I found it, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a four star hotel and the price I paid for it during my whole trip of eight days was less than $150.00. The currency used in the Czech Republic, the Crown, was significantly less than the U.S dollar. In fact, 27 crowns equaled one dollar. Checking in, I then decided to sample the nightlife of Prague. I went to a music club which only played 80’s hits and techno. The name of the club was ‘Club Lucerna’. It was there, among several dancing young people, that I found out that Absinthe, the licorice-flavored alcohol produced from wormwood, was legal in the Czech Republic. Having heard a lot about the drink from the experiences of several writers, I decided to try it. It was very strong to say the least, and not being much of a liquor drinker, I spent the majority of the rest of the night trying to find my way back to my hotel. The next morning, disoriented, I woke up and found the closest eatery to enjoy a very hearty Czech breakfast which cost me roughly $3.00. That day I kept myself busy visiting several castles and learning about modern Czech history, which was marred by both Nazi atrocities and Communist oppression. Around mid-day I visited the bone church in Kutna Hora, a church with an urban myth surrounding it about a monk who went insane and created everything from furniture to a large chandelier using human bones. Making my way back to Prague Center, I stopped at one of the many street vendors for a hot dog that was out of this world and cost a little over $.75. That night I had the pleasure of taking one of Prague’s ghost tours. Meeting my guide in the heart of Prague Center by a centuries old church around 10pm, I was astonished that the guide, a middle aged woman, spent less time talking about actual haunted places than she did telling all of us about how Prague was a major location for those wanting to practice the dark arts in the middle ages. I thought it was very interesting, indeed. The next day I spent exploring parts of the Bohemian Forest, or Sumava. It was ironic to me as I explored it that I had taken a ghost tour and felt essentially nothing of note and in the dense forest I felt what most would consider strange. But, considering the history of the region, maybe it’s not so strange after all. While every vacation has its ups and downs, its memorable moments and forgettable ones, I can honestly say that my trip to Prague was as close to a perfect one as I have ever had. With its beautiful scenery, friendly people, low prices, and interesting history, it was difficult for me to finally leave.
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