Highlight: Going to the bone ossuary, which was creepy, but unique.
Lowlight: Realizing the litre of Czech beer that I bought as a souvenir adds like 5 pounds to my pack.
Money spent: 1205 Kr
Pairs of clean underwear left: 8
I ran into Joel this morning. He was the Dalhousie engineer that was part of the bar gang last night. We were both planning on visiting the bone ossuary today, so we went along together. It was nice having someone to talk to on the train and he knew how to get where we wanted to go (a definite advantage), although it still took some work to figure out what train to take and where to transfer. While we were sitting on the train chatting, we thought we must have missed our stop, but the train was just running late. I’m too used to Swiss and German trains that run like clock-work.
The bone ossuary was unbelievable. As some background, it is this old church about an hour away from Prague in a little town. From what I remember, some crazy, blind monk had to move the cemetery, and decided to take all the bones and create some monument to the dead. When he died, a carpenter took over the work of building statues, pyramids, chandeliers, and other decorations using the bones. Rick Steeves mentions it in his book, and as such tourists flock to this place.
I expected lots of bones, but what I was confronted with was ridiculous. They estimate the bones of 40,000 people are in those decorations. It was a bit creepy. When we arrived we pretty much had the place to ourselves, so we could take it all in. But after 5 minutes a Russian tour group pulled in and swamped the place with rapid picture taking.
After the Ossuary, we hiked up between the train tracks and a creek. We were following a group of people, but soon lost them and almost got lost ourselves. Then we found our way back to the train station and eventually back to Prague where Joel caught a train off to south. We had a great time talking on the train. He’s in mechanical engineering and had plenty of big money job offers to work in the oil sands in Alberta. He turned them down because he didn’t want to work for an oil company. Almost everyone I’ve met in Europe has been progressively minded (or maybe just closet-case conservatives).
Back in Prague, I went back to the veggie place (Country Life) for lunch. I think this is the first time I’ve eaten at the same place twice, but I wanted to get as much cheap, healthy food into me as possible.
Then I checked out the Communist Museum, which outlined the evils of Communism and how it was overthrown in Czechoslovakia with the Velvet Revolution. It was all very interesting. The parallels between the communist regime and the fascist Nazis were striking. I also noticed a lot of similarities to the Bush administration today (minus all the mass killing of its own citizens of course). Case in point: using fear to control people, especially fear of WMD (the communists ran chemical war fare drills and distributed pamphlets warning of attacks from the evil West); controlling the media; and using wire taps to spy on your own citizens. Bush isn’t anything like Lenin, but it’s still scary.
For dinner I stumbled upon Klub Arkitecto – a restaurant mentioned in my book that I was looking for yesterday. It had gourmet meals at prices you’d expect to pay at the Olive Garden, and it was located in an old cellar with low, barreled ceilings. I ordered stuffed peppers with smoked tofu and marinated feta cheese, potato wedges with cottage cheese, a glass of red Czech wine. The table was candle-lit and very romantic. When the stunning waitress asked if I wanted dessert, I couldn’t resist. So, I had traditional Zech walnut cake with whipped cream. It was all so delicious.