I had a decision to make. When I first checked in, I heard a lot of talk about another town near Prague that was supposed to be lots of fun, laid back and beautiful. The town was Cesky Krumlov (say Chess-key Kroom-lov), and it’s advertised as one of the last truly medieval towns in Europe. It’s even on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Later I met a Canadian couple who were also heading there, touting it as “Prague minus all the tourists.” I was intrigued.
That Friday morning I walked v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y to the tram stop near the hostel, trying to figure out if I want to detour and visit Cesky Krumlov, or stick to the original plan and head to Dresden and then Berlin. The problem in my mind was twofold: 1) Cesky Krumlov is almost 3 hours in he opposite direction; and 2) I was keen on getting to Amsterdam, so I could speak to an HR manager there about jobs.
With every step I argued for one side or the other. “It is supposed to be really laid back and nice.” “But it’s in the opposite direction, in fact, I’d have to come right back through Prague again!” “It would be much cheaper to go there, though, than pretty much anywhere in Germany.”
When I got to the tram stop I still hadn’t decided, and where I got off would determine where I go: the bus station for Cesky Krumlov, the train station for Dresden. In the end, what convinced me was a quick slap in the face of reality: What the hell am I doing this for?? To see the world, damnit, even if it means backtracking and going out of my way. Plus, what’s all this rushing for? That doesn’t sound like the unpredictable, meandering, nomad I seem to have become. I got off at the bus station and bought a ticket to Cesky Krumlov for the next morning, returning on Tuesday. Then I went to the train station and bought an open ended train ticket to Berlin, which I could use at anytime within the next two months. Somewhere in all the confusion Dresden ended up on the cutting room floor.
After all that … thinking I had to do, I needed something to distract my mind. I went searching for the Gallery of the City of Prague, which was supposed to have have some photography exhibits. The Gallery was supposed to be somewhere in the main square, but exactly where, I had no idea. I first found an unlabelled museum and went upstairs to ask the receptionist if I had found the City Gallery. She didn’t speak much English, but I figured that I only stumbled on a branch of the National Gallery. I walked across the square and passed a sports photography exhibit and I thought I saw something about ‘city gallery’ written on the building. A very bored young man who was sitting at the front desk of the sports photography exhibit, in front of a ‘free admission’ sign, and when I asked him where the City Gallery of Prague was, he said that it was upstairs. Finally!
It wasn’t upstairs. Yet another receptionist told me that it was back across the square, pretty much right next to the first building I went into. I asked for very specific directions and walked into the building, only to be told by a very friendly old man that the gallery was closed.
Looking through some brochures at the entrance of the City Gallery, I found out that the Municipal Library houses a branch of the National Gallery that focuses on modern and contemporary art. I had a map with me this time and found the library without too much hassle.
I walked up the four flights of stairs … and was told by a rather rude young man that the exhibition was closed.
Disillusioned with the art world that day, I sulked and walked towards the Jewish District. The area is home to the Jewish Cultural museum and plenty of synagogues, but it was so packed with tourist groups and stalls selling tacky souvenirs that I immediately was turned off. I walked back across the bridge near the giant metronome and hopped on the tram back to the hostel.
Back at the hostel I picked up my laundry, took a nap and then hit up a bakery. I had heard that there were two must-try delicacies: vetrnik and medovnik. I had no idea what they were before walking into the shop, but I learned that vetrink was this english muffin-like thing with whipped cream in the middle and medovnik was a kind of cake. I couldn’t decide which one to get, so I got both! And both were delicious. The ‘sandwhich’ parts of vetrnik were soft like a really crumbly biscuit or english muffin and you could tell it had been sitting in some kind of syrup. The top sandwich layer had been covered with a glaze/icing that hard hardened, making the whole layer much crispier. The medovnik looked like it had many layers of marshmallow and nuts and chocolate, coated in cocoa and cinnamon.
I packed and made sure that I could make a quick and quiet exit early in the morning. That’s one of the downsides of living in hostels — you know, apart from always living in someone else’s house — that you have to anticipate how much noise you might have to make, and be mindful about causing too much commotion and disturbing your 8-10 roommates.
(Note: By the time I finished writing this the pictures had uploaded, so catch all the Prague photos here)