Its Raining Cats and Dogs in Prague

30 May 2013

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Each and every city we have visited has given me a completely different view on culture. Each place has been unique and different, with a different background that has shaped it into what it is today. It would be an interesting topic to study the development of the city. Does the city shape the people, the people shape the city, or both? Creativity is an attribute specific to cognitive organisms, but I believe that nonliving matter has the capability to express creativity as well. Manifest in intricate arches, colorful stairwells, monumental inventions, gigantic monuments, and unique buildings, creativity shines through in every aspect of life. People place creativity in the hands of nonliving objects, just as God offered his hand of creativity to the world. All these brilliant places and things that I have traveled around Europe to see, are things that have held on to creativity through time. It is remarkable how nonliving matter has the ability to preserve creativity here on earth as people come and go through the ages. I believe that these incredible artifacts are meant to inspire us as a world to learn from and expand the creativity that has existed through the ages.

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Prague is home to many incredible things such as an ancient astronomical clock and the largest Midevil castle in the world. People travel from near and far to see these things because they are monuments of inspiration both to the wonders of the past and the vision of the future. When a creative mind sees great innovations of the past, it is in their nature to draw from its inspiration and all their life’s experiences to create a better or new solution to a problem. As an innovative people, we must see things as an opportunity to make a change for the better rather than a challenge that has to be overcome. When creativity becomes work, the art is lost and we will fail to reach our creative potential. As a 150 year old invention, the astronomical clock is a wonder to behold. The clock shows the position of the earth in its orbit, the rotation of the sun, the time, and also a name list that 90% of the people in Czech have a name from. If you choose a different name you must explain why…

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Astronomical clock in Old Praha.

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Heading up to the castle…

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A view from within the Prague castle.
6:30–
Well, our night train experience was going good until the conductor came pounding on the doors at 5:30 this morning telling us that we needed to change train cars. I guess the last two cars on the train (the ones going to Prague) were having difficulties and we needed to switch to the first two. Luckily when you only have a small backpack full of belongings packing up on the fly like that is no problem… We changed train cars and no longer have couchettes (little dorm like bunk beds) but instead have the less expensive sleeperettes (airplane like seats that recline). We went to bed fairly early so it was no problem…but now that I am awake my stomach is ravenously hungry! We don’t get into Prague until 9, how am I going to survive?

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Traditional Coach in Train…

My night train experience still ranks pretty high, before our little switch-a-roo this morning I did not wake up a single time throughout the night. When I was wakened by the conductor, I looked out the window and saw that we were already back in Berlin. From here on is uncharted territory so it is a good thing I am awake and able to enjoy looking out the window.

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Traditional dolls and puppets…popular in Eastern European culture.

Some of the most beautiful things I have seen on this trip have been from inside my train coach window. The landscapes here are so gorgeous, they will take your breath away.

9:53–
We just entered into the Czech Republic! It is quite exciting to be in another country. These next few days of my travels are unique to the rest of my trip because they are places that have just recently become tourist destinations. When my mom backpacked through Europe, the Czech, Hungary, and most of the other Eastern European countries were behind the iron curtain. She visited every European country that she could, but was not able to go to many of the Eastern countries. Over the next few days when I go to Prague and Budapest, I will be treading in new ground. I have looked at my mother’s scrapbook so many times that I got an idea of what the countries she visited would be like for me to visit…and let me just say my preconceived notions about what they would be like were ALL wrong. Pictures do not do justice for such beautiful places. I will have been to every place my mother traveled too in her 3 month backpack expedition by the end of the next 10 days except Greece, Norway, and Sweden. I really hope to be able to visit these places over the summer months when I am in England, but as of late I do not have them scheduled in my planner. It is exciting to think I will have been to places she did not go… including the Czech Republic and Hungary. By the end of the summer I will have visited Portugal, Scotland, and Ireland as well, three places she did not get to go. My mom has talked to me a few times about coming to visit me while I am in Europe. At first her and my sister were going to come for a few weeks to travel around with me, but school and work conflicted. Recently my mom has mentioned coming for a week or so at the end of my school at Cambridge and I actually think that if she could make that work, it would be such a great experience. We would have about 5 days together after school ended…but we could see so much in that 5 days. Another part of me wants to tell her to wait, and save time and money so her, Madi, and I can do a 2 or 3 week backpack trip next spring/summer. Now that I know all the ins and outs of backpacking, it would be so fun to guide others through such an amazing experience! We could visit a lot of places and now that I know so many people throughout Europe, we could probably crash on people’s floors most every night…or night trains, because they seriously are one of the best things ever invented!

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00:01–
We just boarded our night train for Budapest after a wonderful day in Prague. It rained all day on us, well all but the first few hours…but that didn’t stop us from seeing everything we wanted to see. We walked around Old Town Prague for a while and found ourselves in front of the Old Astronomical clock that is world famous. At the hour of 2 O’ clock we watched it’s display. At first we were a little disappointed, but when we discovered that it was programed over 150 years ago we were pretty impressed with how intricate it was.

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We just seem to have good luck because once again we ran into a guide leading free walking tours around the city and of course we joined up. We went all around Old and New town Prague, as well as took a visit to the Jewish side of town where the famous Jewish Cemetery exists…the one that the Holocaust memorial was patterned after. The tours we have done in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague have all been by the same company and each last about 4 hours. The time goes by really fast and you learn a lot about the history of each city is such a short amount of time. I wish we would of known about the tours earlier when we were in Paris and Barcelona because they have all been so good and very informative. It is something to learn about things in books, and it is so much better to experience them in person, but when you learn about them while they are right in front of you it is an experience that cannot be explained.

We learned about the history of Prague as a city that was thrown around by the Nazis, but somehow managed to retain all of its architecture and buildings…buildings that make it special today. Prague is home to a variety of Baroque and Gothic buildings, ones whose age and grandeur make prague a remarkable place to visit.

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More traditional unhealthy dessert!
The Czech Republic has changed indefinitely over the years. Our tour guide was telling us how his grandmother has lived in the same house for the past 80 years but has lived in 9 different countries. This is because the Czech Republic keeps changing as the countries around it change as well.
Although the rain was a bit cold and I am an avid disliker of being damp all the time…Prague has been one of my favorite places that we have visited thus far. There is just something about it that makes in beautiful. It’ss historic buildings make it stand out from many other countries in ti’s area.

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There is a slavic specialty known as trdelnik that is a type of tube shaped fried bread that is sprinkled with different toppings. To make it, bread dough is rolled out into long round strips and wrapped around a wooden rolling pin type mold and placed over an open furnace, kind of like a barbecuer. The bread is cooked until the outside is crunchy but the inside is still soft and chewy. Typically the bread is then rolled in cinnamon sugar, or a chocolate or vanilla topping. It is quite good, so good that every time we pass a stand that sells them, we all buy one to share.

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Another Specialty is smoked pig…and they eat EVERY part of the pig…

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Municipal House

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More rain…but still smiling!

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Prague Astronomical Clock.
The Charles Bridge that you must cross to enter Prague Castle is quite beautiful. Giant gothic statues line both sides of it and each on is beautiful and unique. As I gaze at these statues I cant help but feel a bit of the emotion the sculptor must of felt as he shaped them. I have discussed several different instances of creativity up to this point in my trip, and nearly all of them have dwelt with people expressing this creativity through their work. I have thought a lot about what it means to be creative and why certain people tend to be more creative than others. I have come to the conclusion that one is not born with creativity, but is born with with a certain level of curiosity. This curiosity is what leads them to do and try things that no one else has thought of or attempted. Experimentation is the best way to discover creative solutions to problems.

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3, 4, and 5 of my picture series…not sure where number 1 and 2 went!

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