Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 7

Today was the first day of the three day weekend, and many of us set off for various places around Europe, including Dresden, Budapest, and Barcelona. A few people also stayed around Berlin and used the time to explore and relax.  Clayton, Zoisa and I set out by bus for Prague in the morning.

This was the first time I had used a long distance bus like this, and the experience was much better than expected.  We all had decent leg room, the ride was smooth, and the view of the countryside was great.  If anyone is considering taking a bus, I would absolutely recommend it.

As we approached passed the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, I noticed a large wall along both sides of the road.  It stood maybe 8ft tall and ran for maybe a few kilometers.  There wasn’t really much of anything on the other side of the wall, that I could see, just hills and fairly dense trees.  After thinking about it for a few moments, I realized that this must be a kind of border control wall, and this would be confirmed on the return journey when I saw the checkpoints run by the Czech police.  By erecting this wall, it would make it much harder for someone to park a car off the road and walk around the checkpoints with any large amount of people or contraband.

Once we arrived, we quickly dropped off our bags and went out to see the city.  We were lucky enough to find a place to stay right in the middle of the city and managed to see many really amazing features in the short time we were there.  In total we walked about 12 miles that day.  Attached are some photos of Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and some of the narrow, winding streets that really made Prague feel unique.  This is definitely a place I will be coming back to if at all possible.

One major difference from Berlin was the language barrier.  I always say that I don’t really speak any German because it feels like I know so little compared to most of the people here, but being in Prague made me realize how much of my German knowledge I take for granted.  I tried to spend an hour on the bus learning some simple Czech and found it extremely difficult, even if I ignored the individual words and grammar and focused just on repeating phrases.  After an hour of work I had memorized ‘please’ and ‘hello’ well enough to immediately freeze up and forget them as soon as I tried to use them at a restaurant.  Next time I’ll be a little more prepared.
 Street in Prague
Clocktower in Prague

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