Steps, Stones, and Green – Prague, Czech Republic – Day 4.2

Petrin Tower

It’s been awhile – nearly two months since I traveled to Prague over spring break. Keeping up with blogging has been a bit of a mess, especially since my weekends have been packed with chances to get out into the beautiful Shanghai sunshine and warm temperatures. I’ve been venturing on the mega-packed Line 2 of the Metro to Puxi side and the French Concession, where one of my fellow teachers has relocated. I love her neighborhood, which is a mix of markets, European cafes, and handsome single ex-pats. Sign me up, please!

So, it’s back to Prague. Thankfully, I created audiofiles on Evernote to keep track of my daily adventures in the Red Roof City, so I was able to listen to myself (laughing at how much I sound like my sister when she calls me. It’s weird how we sound alike) recounting each day’s events so that I could blog about it later.

Prague Castle, from Petrin Tower

Terezin was rather emotionally exhausting to write about. When I talked about Terezin with my 7th grade class, they were telling me about how they had visited Dachau camp and the Cambodian Killing Fields on their various holidays. I was amazed at what parts of the world they had seen and what their reactions were to such saddening, horrifying bits of history. The great thing about international education is that my students have such a wide knowledge of the world already because of their travels. They may not get the significance of a place like the Killing Fields, but they understand something I didn’t at their age – that all this history happened, and it is open to others to explore. That it happened. Considering I had no idea of what happened in Cambodia until I was in nonwestern history in university, I like being able to discuss these topics with them as their teacher.

After Julie and I returned from Terezin, we found that it was still relatively early in the afternoon
(around 3 or so), so we decided to keep wandering around in Prague. Our plan included trudging up to Petrin Hill, the biggest green space in the city. This meant a long uphill climb just to the base of the hill itself, lumbering over cobblestones as uneven as an old man’s teeth. I grabbed a latte to go, if only to ward off more of the day’s creeping chill.

Once we reached the Strahov Monastary at the top of our street, we turned left past the vineyard, winding along the path to Petrin. Then, it was up quite a few stairs to the top of the hill to Petrin Tower, a “poor man’s Eiffel Tower” that leads to the best 360 view of Prague. After a short rest period, I got my ticket and began the long climb to the top of the tower.

I wound my way to the first pitstop on the tower, which was about midway, and stepped out to the cold, whistling wind. The blast of chilled air turned my face pink, but it felt good, like I was still awake after the nightmare of Terezin.

Revived, I finished the climb and joined Julie at the top of Petrin Tower, snapping shots of the city’s beautiful buildings as the tower shivered in the cold wind and shook a bit when the wind really pushed at it. We stayed up there for about fifteen minutes, admiring the city’s roofs and iconic sites, before going back down the twisting stairs and out to the parkside below. I briefly looked at the half-crumbled paintings of the Stations of the Cross, which were a bit worn out-looking from the weathering. The Hunger Wall, built in King Carl’s time as a means for the poor, starving people to earn their bread, snaked around by Petrin Hill and conjured up images of a medieval Hunger Games.

Hunger Wall, from Petrin Tower

Done with Petrin Hill and rather tired from the climb, we decided to get a Thai neck and shoulder massage at a long spa by our hotels. Our shoulders were killing us from our backpacks and our long walk both in Terezin and uphill to Petrin, so it was a pleasant way to unwind. We grabbed diet Cokes from a local convenience store and retired to our rooms to relax, which meant, for me, that I had bakery goods for dinner (apple strudel and a gingerbread cake) and watched CNN to catch up on yet another nuclear threat from North Korea…

Strahov Monastery

My goal that night was to plan our train trip out to Kutna Hora, the hometown of the famous “bone church,” otherwise known as the Sedlec Ossuary. I remembered seeing it featured on a Travel Channel program once, and since it was only an hour away from Prague on the train, I thought it would make a great daytrip for us.

Oh, and it was an interesting trip, to be sure…

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