By Kelsey Morfitt*
One week down, three to go; plus a couple of more weeks touring Europe. I know, life is rough.
Last Tuesday afternoon, May 27th, I joined the USAC group for a tour of New Town Prague. We visited New Town Hall where a judge, burgomaster (similar to a mayor), and 13 council members were thrown out of a window from the Hall’s bell tower in 1419. Their political careers ended with a splat (defenestration). Remind me never to practice politics in Prague. Here is photo from the view at the top of the bell tower.
Wednesday, after class, I enjoyed a Doner Kebab with friends and stopped at a farmer’s market for some dried strawberries. Thursday I ventured out in the rain to join the USAC group on a walking tour around the Vysehrad, a historical fort from the 10th Century. The 11th Century Rotunda of St. Martin is the oldest original building in Prague (pictured below) and the Vysehrad is considered the first settlement in Prague. It was a little rainy but the photos turned out ok!
Friday, we all climbed aboard a tour bus to Kutna Hora and visited the Bone Chapel, St. Barbara Church, and a silver mine. The Bone Chapel contains remains from medieval plague victims. Yikes. Real bones adorn the church and you can have your funeral here if you like. This practice has declined in popularity; somehow I’m not surprised. Santa Barbara Church (I thought they were talking about California, at first) was pretty, but after seeing lots of ancient churches they become what we fondly called them while studying abroad in Spain: ABCs (Another Boring Church).
The silver mine tour was incredible. We were decked out in white coats and a helmet to navigate narrow spaces without too many rocks causing brain damage and to prevent our clothing from being soaked with dripping water in the mine shaft. We had to cross part of the town with our new getup and gigantic flashlights.
Saturday’s hike in the countryside at Sv. Jan pod Skalou, included another ABC (our poor guide didn’t understand why we weren’t in awe), and picturesque views of the city after hiking straight up the hillside. The rock cliffs at the top were scary, to say the least, and we gasped when rock climbers pulled out ropes at the top. They really need railings at the edge.
Yesterday I rested (one can only take in so much architectural and natural beauty in one week), and I am finally over my jet lag. This week, I’m looking forward to cooking (and eating) with the USAC Czech class and touring Ireland soon.
*Kelsey Morfitt, of North Liberty, Iowa, is a UI graduate student pursuing her M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning. She is currently studying abroad on the USAC program in Prague, Czech Republic.