Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kutna Hora, Munich, Prague, oh my!

After a busy week with friends visiting, we had an even busier weekend full of trips!  We started the weekend on Friday with a day trip to Kutna Hora to see the Sedlec Ossuary.  It looked pretty much like all of the pictures we'd seen--lots and lots of skeletons.  The chandelier above is actually made out of all the bones contained in the human body.  

Besides seeing the church in Kutna Hora, we made our way to the Easter carnival--which we were not expecting at all, but it was a great surprise!  We spent the afternoon riding rides and getting cotton candy.  Easter in the Czech Republic is quite different than in the US.  We learned about some of their traditions from the Czech students and our studio teacher--first, the boys make braided whips from pussywillow twigs to whip the girls (lightly, of course) to bring good health and chase away any bad spirits.  They also douse the girls with cold water for a similar purpose.  The girls in turn give the boys colored Easter eggs (much like in the US).  In Germany, on the other hand, Easter is a very religious holiday, and the only things that are open are churches and beer halls.
On Friday night when we got back from Kutna Hora we took a midnight bus to Munich, Germany. On Saturday we took a tour of the city...and our tour guide was right, there was no way you could have toured the city on your own and fully understood what you were seeing.  There is such a rich history to Munich, but most of it is hidden from someone who doesn't know what to look for.  For example, most of the city was destroyed during WWI and WWII, so nearly all of the buildings in the city are under 60 years old, although they all look like they've been standing for hundreds of years.  It turns out, Hitler had the Nazi party photo-document the city beforehand so it could be rebuilt later.  When they did rebuild it, they made everything look old so no one would know the difference.  Above is a photo of the Glockenspiel on the Rathaus, or Old Town Hall.  Along our tour, we also stopped in the Viktualienmarkt (the main food market along with a huge biergarten) for a traditional German lunch--bratwurst!  I have never liked it at home, but it was pretty good in Germany.   
Later that day when it got a little warmer we went out to the English Gardens.  They were really pretty--it's actually just a big park (over twice as big as Central Park!).  In the summer, there's a nude sunbathing area right in the center.  A little too cold for that this weekend...
On Sunday we started our day by heading towards Olympiapark to see the site of the 1972 Olympics (when the Munich Massacre--where members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and murdered by Palestinian terrorists--took place).  The site was huge, and I'm sure we didn't even see half of it.  There was another Easter carnival going on here--mainly for the children of Munich--with clowns, magicians, and of course, lots of traditional German food!
Right next to Olympiapark was BMW Welt, a giant complex of BMW buildings intended as a "multi-functional customer experience" with exhibition space and showrooms, so we decided to stop in and look around.  The buildings were amazing--so high tech and such a contrast to the historical architecture we've been visiting for the last 5 weeks.  The cars were pretty nice as well...  
We finished off our day in Munich with a trip to Nymphenburg Palace.  Another giantic building with gardens that stretched even further.  Even though it was freezing outside, there were plenty of local runners out for their daily jog at the palace.  So surreal...

We made it back to Prague just in time to catch the last day of the Easter festival and eat plenty of traditonal Easter festival treats.  A sort of strange pizza, corn on the cob, a chocolate covered strawberry and banana skewer, and a chocolate crepe.  Delicious.  We also saw plenty of boys walking around with their whips looking for some girls.  It's so interesting to learn about traditions from other cultures, however strange and silly they might seem. 
I have uploaded all of my pictures from this weekend, so there are a lot of new ones to see!  To see pictures of Kutna Hora, click here.  For Munich, click here.  I've also added more pictures of our adventures in Prague last week (including my birthday and our Ghost Tour where we toured the haunted streets, buildings and pubs of Old Town--pretty lame, but it was a fun night to spend with our Italy friends), so click here to view those.  

Lots and lots of school work to do this week before I head to Scotland for the weekend!  

1 comment:

Bryce said...

Ah! I read about that BMW building in the NYT a few months ago. I'm so jealous... Munich looks like a city that you could spend a lot of time in.