Birthday girl, bones and bezlepkova

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, ChiroK! She and DJ took Prague by storm last weekend, putting on miles of sightseeing/walking and staying up late to enjoy the city after dark. Her birthday was on Sunday, so it was special being able to celebrate it with her :)

We were concerned that ChiroK and DJ would be eating apples and rice cakes the whole time they were here because they can't have gluten (which is found in everything) or pork (which is the most highly-consumed meat in this country), but bezlepkova - that's gluten-free in Czech - offerings have slowly made their way into the market in the past few years.

The American duo arrived on Thursday night and we hit up a restaurant that sold a Czech-made gluten-free beer called Celia. DJ bought every bottle they had for their upcoming vacation through Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Italy :)

The next day, BW and I had to work, so the two hit the major tourist sites by foot and then we all met up in the evening for a plush vegetarian meal at Radost FX and nightlife.

A visit to St. Wenceslas after lots of gluten-free veggies
In one of the 4,000,000 underground pubs in Prague
The next morning, we hopped on a train to Kutna Hora, to see the infamous ossuary bedecked in the bones of thousands of plague and war victims. Delightful, I know. But really, the place is hauntingly beautiful, and the town center is quaint. Unfortunately, though, buses weren't running, so we ended up walking a lot more than anticipated. Like, 6km more.
Riding the friendly Czech rails
The bony Kostnice: appealing in a disturbing sort of way
Paraphrased from Wikipedia... The ossuary was technically started in 1278 when King Otakar II of Bohemia sprinkled some dirt from the Holy Land on the spot. Apparently, the upper echelon of Central European figured that being buried there would prove beneficial and set up their family graves there. The Black Plague in the mid 14th century, along with the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century, literally stuffed the place, so it was expanded and a gothic church was built next to it. 

The place got so full that a half-blind monk was given orders in 1511 to exhume and stack skeletons to make more room. Perhaps that's where the bones-as-ornaments idea came from. Then, in 1870, the royal Schwarzenberg family paid a woodcarver to do something somewhat attractive with the copious skulls and clavicles and fibulas and things.
The Schwarzenberg family crest
Us with Bone Jovi and Napoleon Bonyparte. Ha.

Kutna Hora's center, once we made it there. At one point, the town was wealthy with silver mining, but that's all run out now.
A sign on the wall said "Don't feed," and we were, like, "Don't feed what?" and all of a sudden we heard thumping above us and this giant creature appeared on the roof of this shed.
St. Barbara Cathedral and the Jesuit College in Kutna Hora
Upon returning to Prague, we attended a Swedish circus performance called "Knitting Peace" in Letna Park - it was acrobats doing their acrobat thing in endless spools, nets and balls of string and rope. Pretty phenomenal. There was a tent set up nearby with food, drink and a gypsy band, so we camped out there the rest of the night and had a ball.
How'd she do that?
Gypsy tunes
The next day, we went out for ChiroK's birthday lunch at Maitrea, an excellent vegetarian place right off Old Town Square, dropped into a museum and wandered through the Jewish Quarter before going to the car rental place and sending our friends on their way. Thankfully, we'll see them one more night on their way back through Prague after a European adventure. (...if we let them go back... bwa ha ha)

Have fun, you guys!

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