As our hopeful and adventurous LaLuPrague group set out towards the O’Hare Airport nothing could stop us, or so it seemed…
Delightfully, our first flight went as planned; although, there was a 45 minute delay and while, at the time, that did not seem to matter, it made a world of a difference later. After the seven or eight hour flight, taxiing, and getting through security, our connecting flight in Amsterdam was leaving as we were sprinting through the airport to catch it. Needless to say, we missed our flight. While this obstacle presented a time consuming, tiring, and irritating transfer flight scheduled to leave fifteen hours later, it, oddly enough, gave us the wonderful opportunity to discover the magnificence of Amsterdam. Now despite all of Europe being lovely, I can firmly and conclusively say that Amsterdam, so far, presides as the finest city known to man. It holds enough culture, civility, and class for the entire world. The people are courteous and relaxed, the environment is pleasant and Eco-friendly, and the food is comforting and delectable.
The first event we experienced in Amsterdam was a boat ride pointing out the well-known sections and history of the city. Unfortunately, a bunch of people and I might have dozed off a tiny bit during this (we were nearing 24 hours without sleep and everyone was EXHAUSTED). Afterwards, we walked through the gorgeous city; but, throughout our time there, Mr. Tallman was on a quest for the “authentic” Amsterdam-ian fries with mayonnaise. We hiked miles for these famous fries and were very relieved when we uncovered the vendor’s secret hiding spot and could stop and rest for a bit. Despite mayonnaise being gross and whatnot, when I tried the fries, they were AMAZING! In my opinion, everyone should stop advertising the dipping sauce as “mayonnaise” when it clearly did not even look or taste anything like it. Since everyone lacked the energy to carry on touring after that, we took a train back to the airport and waited a few hours for our flight. Once the plane came, it was a short, yet draining flight to Prague.
Once we touched down, it was about eleven o’clock at night; everybody needed sleep and a shower, and we all thought our luggage was history. Although we went thirty-six hours without sleep, we appeared considerably stable, both mentally and physically. Surprisingly, our luggage quickly was found and we rode a bus to Prague. Apparently, a major flood hit Prague just a day or so before we arrived; the rivers were ridiculously flooded, eight people already had died, and many streets and subways got shut down. At last, we were in the hotels by 12:15 am. What a memorable start to this trip.
My favorite part about the day was most definitely the overall vibe of Amsterdam. While the people were calm and loose, the city itself was designed efficiently and compactly. Even though everything was smaller, it was not more crowded; it simply made everything easily within walking distance. There were NO skyscrapers, which I must say was Awesome! Astonishingly, what was masked as our largest mistake, actually became our greatest success.
This morning,apparently, both Soli and I slept through our alarm. Luckily, Ms. Ryan called and woke us up. Bless her soul. Although we were late, we still had barely enough time to quickly eat breakfast before heading out for the day. Once everyone was ready, we “Tallman-walked” to the trams to begin our journey in the wonderful old town of Kutna Hora. Our first endeavor was walking up a humongous hill to view the ancient and lavish St. Barbara’s Cathedral. It was an amazing and unique experience to see the styles of old. Afterwards, we traversed to a fantastic restaurant which, thankfully, had vegetarian options. I got a spectacular mushroom pasta dish. Next, we went to see the abandoned silver mines; only recently did they reopen it for public viewing. While the tour was short, it was concise and really cool. Although, the conditions in there were horrendous, our guide explained to us that in the days of its use, the silver miners would work in there for hours on end with no light, cramped spaces, and suffocating air. Many would end up blind by the end of their working years. Then, we walked to the eerie, mysterious, and sorrowful bone church. Mr. Tallman told us that over 40,000 different skeletons were buried there during the Black Plague. They were not cremated or buried properly, the skeletons were dumped disgracefully in mass graves. Entering inside, I was shocked. To me, it looked something like what I imagined Auschwitz would look like, bones on top of bones on top of bones… The entire inside was covered with skulls, femurs, and other human bones. Some were even used as decorations; that, I found quite disturbing. After leaving the creepy, sad, and seemingly haunted chapel, we departed to catch a train back to Prague. After a full day, we had 1.5 hours to kick back and relax, at least for a little while. Then we went to a phenomenal pizza/Italian restaurant and I ordered my favorite, spinach pizza. Following the delicious meal, we walked back and, hopefully, will now get some sleep. Everything about the day was so spectacular that I cannot even slightly distinguish what my favorite part was.
Today, we began the day by learning about some Czech culture in downtown Prague. Due to Communism’s grasp on society, two men lit themselves on fire in hopes of motivating the Czechs to fight and abolish it. The history of Czechoslovakia is so powerful and inspiring; I loved learning about the unfortunate tragedies that transpired here. Although sorrowful, the deplorable oppression, while at the time lead to distrust, now leads to a proud, confident, and connected people. Walking further into the heart of Prague, we met a couple gigantic parrots and got to hold them, awesome! That had to be one of my favorite parts of the day. Mr. Tallman then went on to point out the theater which had originally premiered the first showing of the famous Don Giovanni play by Mozart. Needless to say, I became super excited; I love the play and the movie Amadeus which encompasses parts of it. Afterwards, our group traveled to Old Town. This was an amazing experience because the town is busy and lively, but there were no cars, trucks, or semis. Honestly, I don’t think I even saw a single bicycle. It was a foreign, but welcomed feeling that I didn’t have to worry about getting run over or squished. Also, the vibe of the city was very different but amazing. Mr. Tallman showed us the magnificent clock tower and explained to us the significance of all the carvings and the walk of the apostles. After that, we walked up a thousand stairs/ramps to arrive at what seemed like the highest point of the city. In reality, it was simply a tower, but the views were incredible. When we finally came slowly down from the tower, we had super fantastic-awesome carriage rides throughout the city. It. was. beautiful. Next, we went back to our hotel, changed, and tram-ed to the Opera House. I was really afraid we would not be able to go because the flooding had canceled some previous shows that week, but fortunately, we got lucky. Rusalka was mind blowing. I loved it. Although I was tired and occasionally zoned out for a second, it was by far the most special event of the day.