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Entries in Czech Republic (2)

Monday
Aug082005

This little mother has claws...

Oh so tired!

The night before last I had so little sleep due to the time difference and my fear of sleeping on the top bunk (I always worry I will fall off). Still, I was awake enough to go out and see Maticka Praha (Little Mother Prague). Luke and I wondered through this most gorgeous city, and fully understand Franz Kafka's phrase, "This little mother has claws". We are both in love with the beauty of this city.

First off we organise our sleeper train to Poland, then we walk to Charles Bridge (built in 1357) and cross to the Hrad, Prague Castle. It is the largest castle complex in the world, and climbing up the stairs to it we can see the commanding view it has over the whole of Prague. Gazing out of the city we see that it isn't only the charming city centre that has gorgeous old building, the entire city is paradise. We wander into the castle and see the Golden Lane, a series of tiny rooms carved out into the castle wall where tradesmen lived. We saw number 22 where Kafka lived from 1916-1917 in his sister's room. It is the cutest and tiniest little thing (and for me cute and tiny are always synergistic), and I find it delightful that I can think to myself that Kafta literally lived 'in a hole in the wall'.

We wandered over further to the imposing cathedral, with it's marvellous gothic architecture. It rose up and dominated the castle, just as the castle dominated the city. It was raining, so we got to see the water running off through the mouths of the gargoyles (an interesting titbit I learnt in Oxford is that statues on buildings are grotesques, they are only gargoyles if they have a water spout through their mouth). We lined up and went inside to marvel. We climbed the highest tower, with 287 steps in the narrowest of stairwells, with two way traffic through a stairwell that I struggled with by myself. We were stuck behind a nun who kept on pausing, but on reaching the top the view was worth the effort.

Coming down from the castle we visit St Nicholas' Church. It was built in the beautiful extravagant Baroque style, with gilded statues and painted frescos on the ceiling. It took our breathe away, and we can both understand how people used to be converted in an age when peasants lived in thatch huts. Who but a greater power could build such a building? On the other hand how they used to collect alms after a sermon still confuses me, with the profusion of gold.

Early afternoon now, and we wander through the New Town (it was founded in 1347, so 'new' can be deceptive) then the Old Town again. We have a beer in several out of the way bars, then another few in the Town Square. We decide to see the astronomical clock strike on the hour, but it takes three hours before we pull ourselves away from the beer. A small skeleton rings a bell on the hour, in an anti-climatic event unless you consider that the machinery was designed and built six hundred years ago.

Time to leave the little mother, we hop on our train to Krakow at 10pm, slightly drunk and having deep and meaningful conversation.

Sunday
Aug072005

Old style Spanish porn...  

It is 5am. Or possibly 10am, my body is a little bit confused right now.

I woke in Seoul yesterday at 6am. A relaxing morning spent mostly in getting to the airport. A very long flight, the highlight of which was at the start when the flight attendant announced "if there is anything we can do to make your flight more uncomfortable please alert the flight staff". I laughed and the other passengers (all Korean) looked at me. We flew over the Gobi desert, the Mongolian steppe and the central Siberian plataeu. It was very flat and very very large. Also, we had more turbulence than I have ever had on a flight before.

I finished 1812 by Adam Zamoyski. It was an excellent read following on War and Peace, I felt like I knew all the historical characters, and kept on expecting Prince Andrew to be mentioned. Two things I have learnt from Napoleon marching into Russia and having over a million soldiers killed: how to cook Spartans' Gruel (First melt some snow of which you need a large quantity in order to produce a little water, then mix in flour; then, in the absence of fat, put in some axle grease, and, in the absence of salt, some powder. Serve hot and eat when you are very hungry) and what to do when you get frostbite (rub it with snow until you can feel excruciating pain. Don't warm it with fire). Nobody listens to the Poles. Turns out that the Bordineo battle in 1812 had the highest amounts of causalties in a single day of any battle until the Somme in 1916.

Landed in Prague, caught train, bus and tram in order to get to Sir Toby's. Found Luke, whom I haven't seen since December. Very tired at this point - only 7pm in Prague, but that was 1am by Seoul time. I told Luke that I needed sleep or a beer.

 

We choose beer, caught a tram into Stare Mesto (Old Town) and looked around this gorgeous gorgeous city. Unlike many European cities such as Berlin and Warsaw, Prague was taken so quickly by both sides in WWII that it suffered almost no damage, giving the town centre real history in every building. Unbelievably gorgeous old stone buildings everywhere you look. Luke said it was a "Goth's orgasm". The Town Square was amazing with the Gothic steeples of Tyn Church (built in 1365) and an Astronomical clock built in 1410 which has a parade of apostles and a skeleton ringing the bell on the whole. There were lots of tourists, but it was nice with beautiful weather and a festive atmosphere. Unbelievably gorgeous.

Steins of Czech larger were 30 Crowns each (about a dollar) so Luke and I had about five each, and also a pizza. At 11pm, being my 24th hour awake, we stumbled across the Prague Sex Machine Museum. What is the Sex Machines Museum? It is an exposition of mechanical erotic appliances, the purpose of which is to bring pleasure and allow extraordinary and unusual positions during intercourse. On an area of three floors there are more than 200 objects and mechanical appliances on view, a gallery of art with erotic themes, a cinema with old erotic films, erotic clothing and many other things pertaining to human sexuality.

An eye-opener was the 1920 Spanish porn film (silent black and white) commissioned by the King. It was surprisingly hardcore and graphic, and contains the oldest filmed threesome and lesbian sex. They had peculiar ideas of beauty in 1920s Spain. Painful to look at was the collection of genital piercing and the range of patented machines, including clitoral clips, multiple dildo performance machines, and a machine for the enhancement of breast size by the injection of "body-compatible fluids" through the nipple into the milk duct. There was an old Golden Shower throne, and hand-cranked vibrators (looked a bit like egg beaters). My favourite may have been the dildo with a mouse face on the end, which would have made a great gift. Finally even sex machines and beer couldn't keep me awake, so I had to go back to Sir Toby's (well... one more beer there).