Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Day 5 - Day trip to Kutna Hora

Today was a temperamental weather day here in Prague. We had planned to go on a day trip to Kutna Hora - a town that's 1 hr outside of Prague. Before we left for our trip, I had done some scouting and had seen that there was rain forcasted, but I had thought that it had come and gone. Of course, the rain had to pop in and pay us a visit us today in full force. After breakfast, it was just lightly misting, so we figured that it would clear up, and of course, I had dressed up as if it was going to be a warm summer day. We went down to the train station and bought our tickets. It rained on our way biggie - we both had our own umbrellas. By the time we got to Kutna Hora, it had stopped raining and the outside temp was pleasant so we were totally stoked. Our guidebook had said that the town was walkable, so we started on our trek into town. It turns out that the map in the book was deceiving, because what looked like a few minutes walk turned out to be a half hr in muggy high 80 degree weather. Believe it or not though, we were still stoked that it wasn't raining, so we stopped for lunch and decided to eat outside under an umbrella at this Italian Pizza place. The pizzas were delicious! The only thing is, after about 10 minutes, it started to rain...and rain...and RAIN REALLY HARD! There were a bunch of students that looked like they were on a field trip - they were all hanging out in the main square until this crazy storm hit and then they scurried like ants for cover in the neighboring stores and restaurants. It was just nuts. Since we sat under umbrellas, we were ok for a while, until the rain started coming down in all sorts of angles. We were determined tourists though - afterall, this was our last full day in Prague and we were resolved to see the sights that we came out to see! So we started our trek toward the Silver Mining Museum and braved the stupid rain, which lucklily, started to mellow out a bit. Kutna Hora was known for their silver mines back in the day - that's how they established their wealth and reputation in Czechoslavakia. Being the metal trader that he is, Michael was excited to see the silver mine tour. Of course with the crazy rain and all, it turned out that they cancelled all the silver mine tours for the day due to the bad weather and the dangerous conditions for the visitors. So, we settled for the Silver Mine Museum tour. We had an our to kill, so we ended up braving the downpour and walking over to yet another grand cathedral that was down the road. This was St. Barbara's, which turned out to be pretty cool. Since the weather was bad, we basically had the church all to ourselves! This church was built for the patron saint of the Miners in the town, so there were a lot of frescos related to the silver miners of the town. This church really was a tremendous sight. What confuses me is that it seems that every big cathedral I've been to so far seems to tout themselves as the biggest and grandest, so I really don't know who wins that title. Anyway, back to the silver mine tour...we ended up having to go through the tour with a bunch of jr. high school Czech kids. Not only were they loud and sorta obnoxious, but we couldn't understand a word they were saying! I think the docent took pity on us (or maybe he saw that the kids weren't as interested as we were in learning about the silver mines and town history) so he came over to us and gave us a personal explanation of the exhibits in English and he entertained us with some fun lore of the time. After the silver museum church, we headed for the Sedlec Ossuary. Mind you, it's still pouring and we are walking in the rain with our feet sloshing in the 1-2 inch puddles en route to the next sight. Lucklily, a taxi came by and made our journey to the next place more bearable. The Sedlec Ossuary is actually this smaill cathedral that is decorated in HUMAN BONES. I kid you not. It is a scene that could be straight out of Tim Burton's The Night After Christmas (or at least that's what I think it's called). I will show you guys the pictures to prove it. It really was a trip to see skull and crossbones adorning the church. Thousands upon thousands of human skeletons were used (mostly from the great Plauge). I guess it went with the crazy scary weather we were witnessing that day. On our way home, we ended up sharing a train car with some of the jr. high school kids we took the tour with at the silver museum, though I have to say this group of girls redeemed themselves to us. They were just adorable and so eager to practice their English on the both of us. My high point of amusement was when they asked us if we ever saw Wentworth something-or-other from Prison Break. They just thought he was dreamy. Oh, and they also enjoy watching Desparate Housewives. These are comments coming from 12 year old girls. It was cute and endearing.

Tomorrow, we head out for Cesky Krumlov, another city in the Czech Republic. It will be an interesting adventure as we test out another mode of transport in Prague - the Autobus. So far, we have experienced travel via plane, train, and metro in the Czech Republic. We're hoping that the bus system is better than our system back home. From what we've seen at the bus station though, the whole process was not very user friendly. It's definitely tougher trying to communicate in a language you're totally unfamiliar with. It's times like these that I appreciate the the communication we've experienced in Italy and France, where a handful of words and phrases can go a long way. In any case, we're excited about Cesky Krumplov - it looks like one of those charming places off the beaten path (or at least, so we think). I'll keep you guys posted. Ciao for now.