Another city, another walking tour.

It’s one of my favorite things to do when I arrive in a new city.  Not only do you get oriented to where everything is in town but you also learn a vast amount of history and considering Prague is 1000 years old – that’s alot.

There was a light rainfall as I left my hostel to walk to the old town.

Now, in my short stay so far in Prague I hadn’t really seen any tourists as I’m staying across the river from the old town about a 20 minute walk away.

As I walked into the old town this morning you can imagine my shock as I turned a corner and bam I walked into swarms and swarms of tourists.

Yup, I had reached the touristy area.

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In fact, the meeting point for my walking tour in front of the tourist info center had 5 other tour companies with people holding “free walking tour” umbrellas.

I went straight to the man holding the red “Sandemans New Europe” umbrella as they were the best rated and also I had done a great walking tour with them a couple of years ago in Madrid.

Our group was by far the most popular as we had about 50 people split up into two groups.

My guide Filip was amazing.

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First, if he didn’t actually say he was born and raised in Prague I would have never known he was Czech as his English was full on perfect.

And his tone and demeanor as he told his stories was awesome.  He captured the crowd and was far and away one of my favorite guides.

He said from the onset his goal was to make us love Prague and that he did.

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We learned about the astrological clock and how Prague and Mozart had love for each other.

Ever wonder where the word Bohemian comes from?

Now I know – originally the settlers here were from the “Bo” tribe.  The area they lived in was called the “Home of the Bo” or “Boheim” which later was changed to Bohemia.

For years this area was actually called Bohemia.

The term Bohemian, though, which often refers to artsy, don’t have a care in the world people was termed by the French years ago.

They had an influx of gypsies from eastern Europe cross their borders and they called them Bohemians even though they weren’t actually from Bohemia but because they had crossed through it to get to France.

You know, as I wrote that it seems really convoluted but, trust me, the way Filip told it it came across eloquently…

Anyway, we also heard tales of the people rising up against the government and throwing them out of windows.  Oh yeah, and they put spikes on the ground just to make sure.

And how Czech Republic changed the way we drink (invented pilsner beer), eat (Ray Kroc from McDonalds was a Czech immigrants’ son) and see (they also invented contact lenses).

Oh, and if you ask them, they’ll say they invented the sugar cube too but the Swiss will take all the glory on that one…

Like I said, the things you learn on a walking tour are kinda cool.

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After the tour I stopped by the restaurant I went to last night for a late lunch of duck with sauerkraut and dumplings.

By late afternoon I was back at the hostel for a little nap until 7:00.

I really had no idea what to do during the evening so, when in doubt, look for a show.

Opera?  Ballet?  Classical Music?

It’s all here and it’s all touristy.

I decided on going to a classical music concert in a church in the old town.

I found out later there are quite a few churches putting on quite a few shows as, like I said, it’s all catered to tourists.

On my way into the old town I walked along the famous pedestrian Charles bridge and saw a man playing his violin to the side.

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In an instant I decided this was going to be my classical concert.

I sat there on the bridge for an hour as I listened to him play.

Something about just sitting there listening to beautiful music and watching the people walk by was emotional.

You start thinking about things, reflecting on life and that kind of thing.

As I left I bought one of his CDs for 300czk ($15) and just gave him 500czk ($25) instead.

It was the same amount of money I would have paid for the church performance but I felt like this much a much better experience than I would have gotten in there.

I shook his hand and was on my way with a smile on my face walking the streets of Prague.

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On my way back to the hostel I stopped by my favorite restaurant and had a honey cake with baileys on ice.

The waiter remembered me (how could he not? I gave him kit kats!) and actually gave me a large than normal piece of cake.

And a shot of Becherovka (a Czech liqueur).

Yeah, I’ll be back there tomorrow…

Anyway, that was the day – a walking tour, an “alternative” classical concert and a little self-reflection.

That’s a good day in my books anytime…

USSR Trip 2015, Trip Journal

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