The students of TCU Honors College have learnt a very important skill on this trip which was perfected today.
That is, of course, to fall asleep at anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances.
Our new friend, John Black, woke us up right before 6 a.m so we could get off the sleeper train from Budapest to Prague. We bumbled out of the train cars and dragged ourselves over to the hotel which was literally a five minute walk from the station. Since we have been on this trip, a “five minute walk” can mean anything from an American five minute walk (which can be as little as two or three minutes) or it can mean a Polish five minute walk which can be anywhere upwards of fifteen minutes over cobble stones, around corners, with heavy suitcases in tow. We tumbled into the hotel and after we sleepily scarfed down breakfast, nearly everyone took an hour or longer nap.
Lucy and Hannah are our tour guides taking care of us in Prague and Hannah is not only very knowledgable but she gives us a taste of the local flavor here. Exploring Old Town and New Town on foot, we discovered the National Gallery, the Astronomical Clock, the St. Charles Bridge, and the Petrin Hill among the numerous sights that we saw. There doesn’t seem to much personal space in a city this size whether it is because of all the tourists crowding together trying to get the best angle for their picture or if it is because Pragians don’t believe in it. At least most people seem to be wearing strong enough deodrant.
During the afternoon, we split into groups and some people went to the John Lennon Wall located right outside the French Embassy while others went to a cafe with cubist designs for lunch with shopping for garnets, a Czech Republic specialty, afterwards.
Dinner was at 6 and consisted of Beef Sirloin with vegetables and bacon dumplings in a setting consisting of every dead animal imaginable stuffed and stuck on the wall. Shortly after, about half the group attended the National Marionette Theatre which was an interesting an experience. I understand that it is an art form that the Czech people are trying to preserve but I feel like the people controlling the marionettes were playing for cheap jokes. Just like in Ancient Greece after there was a serious play there was a ten minute fun play filled with cheap gags and sexual innuendo, I feel like this version of Don Giovanni performed at the marionette theatre lacked a sense of high theatre and drama that I would have expected in a performance of an opera by Mozart.
Prague seems to be many people’s favorite city so far. As in past cities we have visited, Czech people don’t tend to smile which apparently stems from the Communist era when a person would be investigated if they look too happy. Also, the people here are supposed to be very religious except that they keep it very private and to themselves. The public transport officers here are even more thorough than in Budapest with tickets being checked getting on to the tram, on the tram, and getting off the tram. The people of Prague still seem to be recovering from the Communism that was forced upon them by Stalin. Czechoslovakia only split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993 so there is also that to keep in mind when thinking about how a Czech person has come to be in their ideas and attitudes.
Many people are very glad to be in the last city as the end is in sight and people want to see their families again. The land of free refills, more than three cubes of ice in a drink, and air conditioning that blasts arctic air is nearly within our grasp but I feel that although Prauge is a very tourist friendly and English is spoken nearly everywhere, we still have a lot to learn before we board our planes back home.