Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Touristy Things - Prague

It's at first necessary to point out that both my boyfriend and I lean towards "excessively nerdy" when it comes to museums and exhibits. It's second necessary to point out that we are primarily obsessed with weird museums and exhibits. Let that be the disclaimer for this post. 

A particularly charming acquaintance of mine asked me about our visit to Prague, and exclaimed over all the fun she and her husband had scouring the art museums and soaking in the history. "Did you get to any of the museums?" she asked, excitedly.

"Yes..." I began, and then instantly wondered how I could possibly tell this woman what we did in Prague. And then I decided to just go for it. "We went to the Museum of Medieval Torture, the Sex Machines Museum, and the Museum of Communism."

"Oh," she blinked. "We didn't make it to those."

"We also went to the new Holocaust museum in Berlin!" I quickly followed up. As though that would sort of balance out the fact that we spent most of our time parading around Prague looking at smut and gore. And Communism. But that's history! And art! 

I'll be honest - I did not take a single picture of the Torture Museum. Mostly because I was making very concerted attempts to not become light-headed. But, if you wish, you can visit this site for some examples of the fun and enlightening things one can view on exhibit there.

At the advice of one of The Gentleman's coworkers, we also visited Petrin Hill with its observation tower that you can climb to see an incredible landscape of Prague. To get to the top of the hill, you could hoof it (if you have all day, are in marathon-shape, and/or perhaps haven't already started your day with three mimosas at breakfast) or you can wait in a line to take the funicular. Funiculars, apart from being a fun word to say, are these inclined trams popular in Europe where instead of blasting through the natural landscape, they build cities up and around it. This might also be because most European cities were birthed far before the invention of technology advanced enough to blow up mountains without causing permanent damage to landscape and/or citizens. I could just be on my high "I have traveled to Europe no less than 4 times, and everything is better there" horse. Don't you hate those people? Who spell things like colour? And flavour? ISN'T THAT SO MUCH CLASSIER?!

I digress.

So, much like the Prague Castle, you can buy your funicular tickets (and any public transportation ticket) in units of time. I think we opted for a 90-minute ticket, which is more than enough to take the short ride to the top, tour around for a bit, and then have the funicular drive us back down the hill (because we stopped for mulled wine at the top - duh - and we were sleepy.)

View from inside the funicular

The tracks basically just go...up.

View from semi-close to the top

The Observation Tower at the top of Petrin Hill (sort of a mini Eiffel, no?)
Now, you can go to the top of the Observation Tower. Which we did. But be warned - there's no elevator. This isn't some fancy schmancy Burj situation  with the world's fastest elevator. Oh no-ho-ho; you get to the top on your own two feet, friend, and, lemme tell you, while that thing may not LOOK daunting, IT IS. It's about fifteen solid minutes of climbing a very spiraled, one-person wide staircase to the top. And yes, there's only one staircase. But that's nice, because it means you get a little rest every time someone comes DOWN the stairs, as you press yourself pancake-thin against the walls to let them by.

But the view at the top is oh-so-rewarding for all of your hard work:

Probably don't look down. Or dangle your camera out of the window while looking down, thus giving your boyfriend a minor heart attack and causing a lecture about the acceleration of falling objects and how they can kill those below you - because apparently he had NO CONCERN WHATSOEVER for my ACTUAL CAMERA being shattered into a bazillion pieces if I were to drop it. Only about the stupid fools standing below us. THEY SHOULD HAVE COME ALL THE WAY UP THE TOWER, THEN THEY WOULDN'T GET EXPENSIVE CAMERAS DROPPED ON THEM. I digress. I didn't drop my camera. Thankfully.

And then you get a nice little view of the park around Petrin Hill on the funicular ride down. It's lovely.

Of all the truly touristy things we've done, The Gentleman and I, this one might have taken the cake: fish pedicures at a Thai massage parlor.

You pay about $30 a person (by far the most expensive thing we did the entire time we were in Prague), and you sit with your feet in a tank of warm water while a million little fish nibble away at your skin, supposedly cleansing it and ridding it of dead skin. The whole thing is probably monumentally unhygienic, but it was also a nice little rest from walking all day on cobblestones. And, I have to admit, my feet felt silky smooth at the end.

It feels like tiny electric shocks, and it's about the weirdest feeling in the world. I was surprised no one had to peel me off of the ceiling the first time one of those little assholes got itself in between my toes and had a nice nibble. Also, these photos are disconcerting, because only now do I realize how much the fish were flocking to my feet and not The Gentleman's. Probably because his smelled bad. Not because mine were a veritable gold mine of dry skin. Definitely not because of that.

One of the most fun things we did in Prague was the Communist Museum. While fairly unscathed by the World Wars (and highly unique in that respect for that area), the Czech Republic was under Communist rule for 41 years, starting in 1948. As a direct result, then-Czechoslovakia was further behind Europe in innovation and technology despite the fact that it wasn't bombed to bits in World War II. In 1989, Czechoslovakia became a democracy again through the relatively peaceful Velvet Revolution, before splitting again in 1993 to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And that is your history lesson for the day. I took pretty pictures of the museum!

I SO want this plate.

Sure you are. Suuuuuurrrrrrre you are.


Pretty example of Communist storefront, or Urban Outfitters?

Did they play Woodstock?
Now, I fully realize that there are Sex Machine museums in about five different countries, and that they're probably total Ripley's Believe It Or Not-type tourist traps. BUT WHATEVER, IT WAS AWESOME. I won't post all of the pictures I took, mostly because I don't have any disclaimers anywhere about NSFW, nor do I want to get banned, but here are a few of the..."tamer"...pictures....

I was like, "Why are there weird robes- ooohhhhhh."

I also want their collection of vintage dancer lady portraits.

Because relationships are a two way seat.
Stay tuned for: touristing around Berlin!

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