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Day Eight: Prague to Karlštejn

Posted on Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Dave!Last night I made plans to visit Karlštejn Castle, a popular tourist attraction about 20 miles south of Prague. And since I'd rather be punched in the face than pay $50 to join an organized tour bus group, I decided to go it alone via train.

After walking across the river and making my way down to Smichov Train Station, I bought my $4 round-trip ticket and then tried to find "Track 3" that I was supposed to be on. Except none of the tracks are numbered!! Not only that, but the reader boards only show the one train that's next to go... none of the trains afterwards! So I'm guessing the plan is that you run around from track to track until you find the train you're supposed to be on (hopefully you know the end-of-line city for your journey, or I guess you're fucked).

After finding my track by dumb luck, I thought the day's strangeness was over.

But this is me we're talking about.

And so there I am getting settled in my lower-compartment window seat when this guy comes walking down the aisle. When he gets to my row, he pauses for a second then continues on. The compartment is completely empty, which is nice, because I don't have to worry about a gum-smacking whore sitting near me. But then the guy comes back and sits down... right next to me... IN AN OTHERWISE EMPTY COMPARTMENT!

Not exactly sure how to react, I flash him my "seriously?" look. His response was to say "I am lonely." Not knowing exactly what he means by this, my only reply is "Uhhh... yeah... sorry, but I LIKE to be lonely," and then I headed to the upstairs compartment. On the up-side, he was a young good-looking guy, so it's nice to know what my options are if I should ever change teams.

Karlštejn Castle is quite a hike from the train station, but I didn't mind (hey, it was nothing compared to hiking up to Petřínská Rozhledna last night!). The castle itself is nothing extravagant, but still nice. The most interesting thing about my visit here was the weather. It started out pretty crappy...

Karlštejn Castle

But a half hour later it's an entirely different story...

Karlštejn Castle

No photos were allowed inside, of course.

The castle was founded by King Charles IV of Bohemia, and one of my favorite things about my visit was learning about his patron saint, Saint Catherine. The legends about her vary, but she pretty much kicked ass all around. After converting to Christianity in her teens, she went to the Roman Emperor Maximus to try and get him to stop persecuting Christians. The Emperor refused, but was taken by Catherine's beauty, and decided she should marry his son. After meeting Catherine for the first time, the son converted to Christianity. Upset at this news, Maximus sent his wife to talk Catherine out of her foolish religious ways. But instead, Catherine converted the wife to Christianity too. Outraged, Maximus had both his son and wife sentenced to death, and decided he would marry Catherine himself. In a final effort to have her give up her faith, Maximus sent fifty wise men to Catherine in order to make her see reason. That didn't go so well, as she converted all fifty of them to Christianity too. Maximus was beside himself with rage, and sentenced all fifty wise men to death, and decreed that Catherine would be tortured and killed on a breaking wheel. Except when she touched the wheel, lightning came down from heaven and demolished it. Left with no other option, Maximus eventually beheaded her, making her a martyr and eventual saint.

When I returned to Prague, I decided to hike up to Vyšehrad Castle, which is just south of Old Town. The locals I spoke with recommended the area because it doesn't get nearly the tourist traffic of Old Town. As an added benefit, it has a bitchin' cathedral and the views are pretty sweet...

Vyšehrad Cathedral

Vyšehrad Castle View

But what I liked best was the cemetery and its statues. I took quite a few shots with a wide range of exposures in the hopes that I could make some nice HDR photos from them...

HDR Angel at Vyšehrad

After walking most of today and yesterday, I had blisters on top of blisters and my legs were aching so bad I could barely move. I decided to take a Special Pill and lay down for a couple hours to recuperate a bit. By the time I had dragged myself out of bed and wandered back into Old Town, the rain we had been promised finally arrived. As expected, Prague is every bit as beautiful when wet...

Rainy Prague

The hotel manager suggested a vegetarian restaurant called Lehká Hlava (I think it's supposed to mean "Clear Head"), which is a kind of a Mediterranean/Spanish/Mexican fusion place that was unbelievably good. So good that I would gladly fly to Prague again just to eat here. I had hummus and tortilla chips followed by a quesadilla-type dish that was out of this world...

Lehká Hlava Restaurant in Prague

For dessert, I had to grab me yet another Trdelník. Usually I avoid foods with the word "turd" in the name, but these are so delicious that I just can't help myself. Bread dough is wrapped around a thick stick, baked over hot coals, then dipped in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and toffee bits. You then unroll it to eat, and it's just as delicious as it sounds...

Trdelník Shop

Since it was my final sunset in the city, I decided to take my Trdelník and walk across Charles Bridge one last time. The rain had stopped, but the cobblestone streets were still wet, which always makes for nice photos...

Charles Bridge at Night in Prague

Charles Bridge at Night in Prague

Across Charles Bridge at Night in Prague

And now I suppose it's time to pack my suitcase. Whee.

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Categories: DaveLife 2010, Travel 2010Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. Kailyn says:

    I have been enjoying your trip photos. For quite some time Prague has been on places to see because of what I have heard from others. This time I got stuck on the train story though because all I could see were flashes of that award-winning movie “Eurotrip.”

  2. muskrat says:

    i haven’t seen that movie.

    i wonder if this is the castle in which i did immoral things on the staircase. i can’t recall now…

  3. Those night pics were taken with your D90? I’m going to be in the market for a new camera some time this year so I’m debating over the D90 and a Canon Rebel XSi. If those night pics are any indication of the D90 then it’s a no brainer.

  4. Whit says:

    Prague changed my life. Glad you’re having fun and meeting new friends!

  5. Lisa says:

    I can’t wait to see your HDR photos! I have been wanting to experiment with HDR for a while, but just haven’t had the chance.

  6. Squeee we ate at Lehká Hlava (recognised the tables!! :) ) .. they had an Australian shiraz wine on their menu which amused us, but we went with the Pilsners :)
    I really really really need to get my Europe photos online…..

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