224. Josefov/The Jewish Quarter, Prague

The Jewish Quarter or Josefov, was established when the Jewish community in the city of Prague was ordered to leave their homes and were confined in one area. Over centuries the population grew and grew, but the area stayed the same, eventually developing into a dense, overly populated ghetto. More and more restrictions were imposed, including trade restrictions and curfews.

Today, there are six famous synagogues and aone of the most famous graveyards in Europe, but aside from that many of the buildings are truly magnificent, glorious wonders and it is quite the luxurious place to live. Ironically enough, supposedly Hitler was eyeing it up as a place to eventually retire. Also in the irony basket is the giant Hugo Boss store in the centre

223. Týn Church

While I didn’t go inside it, this church piqued my interest not because it is an amazing gothic building, but for its hilarious tale of architectural sexism. Looking closely, you may notice that one spire is smaller than the other. The reason for this, was definitely NOT an architectural error, oh no. The official explanation is clearly that it is meant to represent male and female, and obviously the male one is the bigger one. I guess the stakes were pretty high in 1511, as admitting error put you at risk of execution by way of defenestration – being thrown out of a window.

222. Michael Jackson being offensive… again

Having already seen the hotel in Berlin where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out of a window……we weren’t expecting to see more of his antics so soon. As it turns out, the Prague Metronome, which stands on the hill on the opposite side of the river to the city, just to the right of the Prague Castle, used to be home to a giant, imposing statue of Stalin, reminding the citizens who was boss. After the fall of communism it was replaced with the metronome.

When Michael Jackson played in Prague in his ego seems to have been at its peak. Not only did he rent out the entire top floor of the Hotel Intercontinental, but he also put a giant inflatable statue of himself on the very spot where stalin used to be. Is that not the definition of innapropriate?!

221. The worst tour guide in the world

It was hot. We’d had a big night. We were too lazy to work out how to actually see the sights on our own so thought we’d give one of the free walking tours a whirl. As it turned out, I think it was the first time in my life that I have wanted to scratch someone’s eyeballs out within two hours of meeting them.

There were about 50 others that had thought the same thing, but there were two tour guides which improved the situation somewhat. As the group was getting divided in two, we took it upon ourselves to position ourselves next to guide number one, who was one of the tallest people I had ever seen. Possibly tried to be a pro basketball but got too excited at all the cheap pivo, and is now running walking tours for tips. Nonetheless, we thought he’d be a safe bet given he was impossible to miss in a crowd. I pointed this out to him in a comment that could have been taken terribly, but instead he whipped out some quality banter and we were instant friends.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Tour guide number two decided to re-divide the crowd and put us in her group. Gunning for the most people so she could get more tips, I’d say. It started to go downhill once she opened her mouth. We all quietly commented that we had just been subjected to the worst Australian accent we’d ever heard and I thought gosh this is going to be tough to listen to for the next few hours. As it turned out, she was from Christchurch. It was one of those cringeworthy, so bad its embarassing, bogan kiwi accent moments. But I’ve watched enough Shortland Street to be able to move past her voice, even if it was reminiscent of nails on a chalk board.

Where it got really painful, was when the actual tour began. So relatively early on. In what was the finest example of memorising a script without having any concept of what it meant, we were subjected to 3 long hours of terrible jokes, awkward silences, but worst of all, being talked to as though we were five year old children. Adolf Hitler? No idea who he was, but we sure heard a lot about “the very very bad man.”

The few Czechoslovakian words I’ve heard (largely place names, and names of famous composers) were all pronounced wrong, so I can only assume the non-internationally famous words weren’t correct either. But the moment where I really decided I couldn’t stand this girl, was when she was educating us about the “hollycost.” I was just totally embarrased for our entire nation that so many travellers are going to hear this girl speak and think we are all home schooled idiots in New Zealand.

But on the upside, at least there was loads of interesting stuff to look at in Prague, so even the worst, most uneducated on the city she lives in, rude tour guide in the world couldn’t ruin a fascinating and beautiful city.

For anyone interested in a walking tour of Prague, whatever you do, DON’T go with Rachel from Sandeman’s New Prague tours!

220. Church of St James, AKA the grossest church I’ve ever seen…

The Church of St James in Prague is famous for the legend of a theif who tried to steal the jewels of the Madonna inside. As the story tells it, the statue came alive and clamped down on his arm, and he was stuck there until the morning, and the only way to free him was to cut off his arm.

The story, however, doesn’t seem to be enough to warn off prospective theives. Hanging just near the door is, supposedly, the 400 year old mummified arm of the thief. So you look up and see this manky, leathery twig like thing that no longer even looks like an arm. It’s pretty sick. But the rest of the church is quite pretty once you get past that!

219. New Town, Prague

As well as the Old Town, there is the new town, which in 2012 could for the most part easily be confused with the Old Town. Possibly something to do with it being founded in 1348. Aside from a few more modern (read: ugly concrete and glass) buildings, the pre-communism majesty of the city is really on display, if looking a little unkempt and run down. You can just imagine how magical it used to be.

218. Il Commendatore

The Stavovske Divadlo/Estates Theatre was where the premier of Mozart’s Don Giovanni was held, on 29 October 1787. To commemorate this, the faceless statue of IlCommendatore (one of the character’s in the opera) is found outside. It is so creepy looking, that it is quite striking until you get the explanation.

217. Old Town, Prague

In my opinion, the Old Town in Prague was definitely the most beautiful part, even if it was crammed full of tourists and tourists traps. Definitely worth bearing it.

It looked even better as we walked through it again, after a cheeky rain storm.

215. The Astronomical Clock

The Astronomical Clock in Prague has apparently been voted one of the most overrated tourist attractions in the world. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it – I was rolling with turn up in the city, find out what’s there when I arrive. So it wasn’t overrated at all to me!

The top of the tour comes alive on the hour, with midieval costumed trumpet players, and the clock itself has all kinds of puppets and things popping out all over the show. Definitely a good idea to arrive 5 minutes before the hour and catch all the excitement!

214. Berlin to Prague in Stop Motion

When driving over the Swiss Alps, I was trying to get some good shots of the scenery around me, but we were whizzing past them all so quickly that I ended up holding down continuous shutter to see if I could catch them. When flicking through the photos really quickly the effect was really cool! I’d just recently seen some amazing stop motion videos made by my friend Marc and thought maybe I could give it a go too.

My attempt was not at all planned, just a few bursts in some more interesting places, and when we hit town I passed my camera around and it came back with some pretty hilarious shots! If I were to do another such video it would be good to have the camera properly mounted on the dashboard of the car, but nonetheless it was a fun experiment, and an efficient way to share my road trip snaps!