Prague, Czech Republic: Yet Another European Castle

First thing in the morning, I went to the embassy, but this time, the effort was flawless: I knew exactly where it was and how to get there. I was even early, and had a coffee at a cafe down the street before going in. As usual, the Embassy was run entirely, except for the Consul himself, by Czech citizens. I surrendered my weapons at the door — camera, non-functional mobile, ipod — and went inside. The women at the counter handed me the absentee write-in ballot forms and I proceeded to fill them out. I couldn’t figure what to put for my ‘current address’, since I didn’t really have one, but the receptionist said that I should just put my home address in Arlington. But the more I read through the instructions on the form, the more I realized that it wouldn’t make sense to put my Massachusetts address on a write-in absentee ballot. I looked through the terms on the forms and it clearly stated that the vote wouldn’t be counted unless the current and registered addresses were different.

I got another set of forms, much to the confusion of the two women at the counter and put down the address of the hostel. Hopefully, since I was sending in the absentee registration card along with the vote itself, there would be no further communication necessary. Several days later, after I had left the city, I would receive an email from one of the guys at the hostel asking what he wants me to do about some mail addressed to me that, “I believe is for some election!” Ugh …

After the embassy I walked up to Prague Castle. The castle grounds are one of the largest in Europe and there is certainly plenty to see there. Unfortunately, except for the main cathedral, it’s all quite overpriced and chock full o’ tourist groups, my archnemeses. I settled for walking around the grounds and just trying to get some shots of the city. The morning had turned out to be quite foggy and overcast, so the shots of the city sucked. But by noon, blue sky was starting to dominate over the clouds, so I sat on a bench in the gardens on the west side of the castle and waited for the sun to start shining. When it did, I walked around some more and took pictures of what turned out to be a beautiful day.

(this is about where you’d see several lovely shot of the castle grounds, but my pictures are turning out to be quite large in size, and it takes ages to upload them. Especially when you’re relying on free wifi networks in hostels, which understandably are not at the forefront of technology)

I walked away from the hostel, to the northwest neighbourhood of Hradcany (which I always called Hardcandy), in hopes of finding an easy way up Petrin Hill, home to the Petrin tower, or the ‘Eiffel Tower of Prague’. A short walk from the castle is a monastery, and right outside the monastery walls was a great little cafe that had magnificent views of the city. I was trying to stay off the beer that night, so I took some pictures and kept moving.

(ahem … again ….)

After a walk up several stairs and a steep hill, I reached the tower only to find out it was 3 euros to get to the top. I was debating paying, just to get some good panoramic shots, when a large group of schoolkids started lining up. I was glad that the decision was made for me, turned on my heels, and walked away, into the parkland area that the tower is situated in. There was a nice garden lined with white benches, so I found one that was dry and lay down, listening to music and taking a short nap.

After much deliberation, I decided to go ahead and buy that zoom lens, so I walked back to the camera shop and bought it. Then I walked back over the same bridge, near the National Museum, and tested out the lens, taking some close-ups of the castle.

I decided to treat myself and take the train back to the hostel. I couldn’t hold out any longer, so I went down to the bar at the hostel and had a few beers, played on the internet, and generally acted as anti-social as I could. I also kicked myself for not having a drink at that beer garden near Petrin Hill.

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