Friday, July 19, 2013

A Field Trip

Hello! Today, the majority of us in the program went on a field trip put on by USAC; we remained in the Czech Republic and saw many neat and beautiful things. The day started out at 7:45- a bit early for me with how tired I have been- and we all met outside the apartment. Once on the bus, we drove about 20 miles south of Prague to Konopiste. Here, we visited the castle that was last owned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand! (Yes, the one whose assassination ignited the first World War!) Just a side note, this man was an avid hunter- he killed 300,000 animals in his lifetime! Many many many trophies were on display in his castle. We were taken on an incredible tour through the private spaces of the house- his bedroom, his children's bedroom and playroom, the dining room, etc. It was breathtaking. The grounds were equally as impressive- the castle was surrounded by luscious forest on all sides and statues were placed everywhere. Afterward, we hopped back on the bus and headed for the city of Tabor- a city located about 55 miles south of Prague. I really enjoyed it here- even though it is the second largest city in the country, it felt very small; all of my favorite cities so far have been the quaint, small ones. Once we reached the city center, we were given about 2 hours of free time for lunch and looking around- everyone set off in search of a restaurant. I had packed my lunch for the day, so I set off alone, munching on my sandwich as I walked along beautiful winding cobble street roads. I entered a few cute shops, people-watched, and bought myself an ice cream for 20 crowns (~$1.00). I then met back up with friends, explored a little more, and the whole group soon met in the center square again. From there, we went to the top of a tall tower that overlooked the city, offering us a spectacular view. (As always, I earned the view after having climbed MANY stairs that my feet just don't fit on!) We then hiked about a mile to the shrine of Klokoty- people from all around used to make a pilgrimage here to refresh and renew their religious fervor. After a little time here, we got back on the bus and then stopped for a bit in the smallest city in all of the Czech Republic, Nove Dvory. It has a population of 53 people! The city cannot afford to keep a bartender so the one bar in town offers drinks that you serve yourself. You then write your own receipt, put the money in a box, and clean your glass. Very interesting. It was a lovely and long day- I am now pooped and plan on finishing up some more homework tonight. Love to everyone, until next time.
Konopiste Castle

The amazing forest surrounding the castle

Some statues on the property of Franz Ferdinand

The first view we had of Tabor- apparently they are reconstructing the lake. Yikes!

Taken during my solo adventure- great little roads 

The city of Tabor

The shrine just outside of Tabor

Inside the shrine was an amazing collection of roses- quite lovely

The bar in the smallest city!