The Castle by Johanna Guentert

Today we toured the Castle of Prague. I was able to drag Catherine out of the fluorescent lights into the sunshine for more than two hours and we took some pretty cool pictures together. We toured the whole castle, starting with the gardens, working through courtyards, fountains, dining rooms, and the like. One little lane where people who worked in the castle lived had a progression of museum-like rooms set up from different time periods. I loved how they slept in straw beds in lofts above the rooms and cooked on fire stoves. I wouldn’t mind living there, except for the fact that there was no running water. The castle was massive, and we also saw St. Vitus Cathedral, which was GORGEOUS. The stained glass was incredible, with every color imaginable put together to make different scenes from the bible. I would hazard a guess that it was nearly twice the size of the Notre Dame cathedral. The curving gold accents were all so ornate and detailed; all the work looked very Baroque. We ate lunch in a converted Jewish-monastery-turned-restaurant, and I had chicken with potato dumplings. Disclaimer: food is just better in Europe. After lunch we saw the castle’s library, which had a beautiful painted ceiling that looked similar to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I was fascinated by the pickled animals that were encased in glass cabinets as part of the library; apparently it was how you learned back then- by looking at the actual animal. There was a full-sized snake, alligator, armadillo (which I have never seen), turtle, several types of coral and sea creatures like lobster and sting rays, and some pre-historic animal that looks like a cross between a fish and a bird. I called it a fird. The interesting thing I learned today was that taxodermed animals were housed in libraries back then. Also that people back then were a lot shorter than we are, nearly 3 or 4 inches smaller. On the way into the time-period rooms I hit my head several times. My favorite part of today was dinner! I forgot to mention it. We ate on the roof of a hotel in the middle of Old Town Square, and you could see the clock tower and even the replica Eiffel Tower! The food was so good- I had noodles with some sort of sweet red sauce and shrimp and it was delicious. Something that surprised me today was how short the people were back then. My interesting story of today is that in the afternoon, after we had free time for shopping, Catherine and I successfully found our way back to the hotel from Wenceslas Square, which was a very rare occurrence. If you put my sister and I in the same car with a map we would most likely only be able to locate the nearest McDonalds- we get lost very easily. The one with the sense of direction in the family is Hans! Tomorrow is our last full day- Prague I will miss you dearly!

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