Prague, Czech Republic (first day)Hello. This morning we arrived in Prague on an overnight train. It was confusing getting to the hostel, but we made it. It turns out that most of the features that we were excited about this hostel are actually soon to be here, but not here yet. However, it's nice and newly painted.
Then we wandered down toward town. Justin and I broke off from the group because we had to find an internet cafe so we could get the details for meeting my friend (her name is Carmen; she's from Maryland) in time to meet her for lunch. We finally found an internet place, and I got lots of important email. Nice! Then we left on our way to meet Carmen. We walked a long way and finally rode the metro pretty far south on our map. We met up with Carmen quickly, she showed us around a cool part of town, and then we walked back up to the northern part where we had been to get lunch and meet her friend there as well. STRANGELY enough, we actually ate lunch at a restaurant on the same street as the internet cafe we'd been in earlier. Prague is not that small. It was very odd. Then Carmen, Justin and I walked around Old Town for a while, and then Carmen headed off for the afternoon. Justin and I went up to Prague Castle up on the hill overlooking the city, then we went back to the hostel, incredibly exhausted from all our walking.
Tonight's feature: Back at the hostel, we left again in a while for dinner at a restaurant a block from our hostel. It was authentic Czech cuisine. Unfortunately, it seems to be common Czech policy (like in the guidebooks) to provide extras like bread for dinner and then charge you for them. Our restaurant did this, which made everybody really mad; also, our waiter somehow lost my table's orders and after everyone else had eaten most of their meals, he came back and took our orders again. Then when he brought the food, he still didn't have one meal, and he got our side orders mixed up. :( Everybody was really heated by the time we left.
Prague is a nice city. The architecture is pretty. It seems kind of like a combination of German and Italian architecture in the cities we've been in so far. There are lots of cobblestone streets and sidewalks, like in most of the other cities we've been in. There are some really neat bridges on the river running above the Old Town. One of them has lots of statues on it. Apparently during the Protestant-Catholic conflicts a long time ago, a bunch of Protestant leaders got their heads left out in the rain and sun for seven years on that bridge. Yuck. Prague has lots of crystal shops--all kinds, nice and hole-in-the-wall. Some of it is very beautiful, and it is relatively inexpensive. One interesting thing about being in Czech is that I have no basis for understanding the language because it isn't based on Latin at all, or similar to English (as is German). So it's very difficult to function when it depends on being able to read.