18 hours. That is how long it takes to get from Kaunas, Lithuania to Prague, Czech Republic by bus. And that’s only one way. Am I crazy for voluntarily spending that much time on a bus? Yes. Was it completely worth it? Absolutely!
There was a bit of an interesting situation where class was canceled for the week, so we decided to take off! Where else but Prague?! Really, we had planned to go to Prague anyway for our last 4 day vacation, but since class was canceled we just bumped it up a little and actually got to spend more time there than we would have been able to otherwise. It was pretty awesome, even if we do have to spend the rest of our Saturdays making up for the lost teaching days (I won’t complain though, I get to spend time with my kids!)
Honestly for a little bit there I was considering not going to Prague. The flights from Lithuania were expensive and had crazy long layovers, and an 18 hour bus ride just sounded absolutely miserable! But, it was on my list of places that I really wanted to go while in Europe. So after I thought about it, I decided why not! And honestly, the bus ride wasn’t even that bad! We took an EcoLines bus, which is the same company that we used to get to Poland, but this ride was SO MUCH better than the ride to Poland! There seemed to be more leg room and we had TVs built into the seats so we could watch movies on our way there (though half of them were in Russian…). I was able to get a little bit of sleep on this ride, but still took a nap at the hostel!
After a quick nap, we ventured out to explore the city! We came across the world’s coolest toy store! It had a carousel, a giant slide, a water table to play at, giant Nerf targets, life size superheroes, a giant hot wheels racetrack, and tons more! It was seriously the coolest, and we may have spent an hour in there on accident! We also found a really cool candy store that was pirate themed and had all the candy in barrels! It was pretty cool! As we wandered, we saw a sign advertising a ballet for that night. It had been a goal of mine to see a ballet while I was in Europe, and the other girls were nice enough to agree to go with me. It was so worth it! The dancers were amazing! The male lead was probably the best dancer I have ever seen! So graceful! You couldn’t even hear his feet hit the ground ever! But it also reminded me of an interview with George Balanchine that I had watched in my dance class in college where he said that the male dancer’s job is to make the female look good. And this dancer did just that! He was by far the best dancer in the cast, but when he was doing partner work, you couldn’t keep your eyes off of the female. It was just so awesome to see!
The next day we decided to make our way to the Old Town and to Charles Bridge, but first we had to stop in the Easter market that was right outside our hostel for a great breakfast of potato chips and lemonade. 😉 Super healthy, I know. After breakfast, we trekked over to Old Town. IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, so pretty! And with the whole square filled with vendor stalls for the Easter market it was just awesome! We peeked around at all the stuff there for a minute and then made our attempt to find Charles Bridge which mostly consisted of wandering around until we finally decided to consult Google Maps because the map we got from the hostel made no sense at all! But getting a little bit lost was totally worth it once we got to the bridge! It was so pretty! We stopped on the bridge to get a caricature done! That was an experience! The artist thought we needed to look more our age, so he gave us all some extra boobs in the drawing!!! It was hilarious! (I’m also just grateful to not be the only one on this trip who is not well endowed ;)). After we made our way to the other side of the bridge, we stopped at McDonald’s for food (and free wifi, mostly for free wifi). While at McDonald’s, I got a message from my dad that he was able to get in touch with his cousin who lived in Prague and that the cousin wanted to meet up with us. I had never met this relative, but I had really wanted to meet them while in Prague if possible.
After eating, we went back to the Old Town to meet up with this relative (again, shoutout to the other girls for being so willing to go along with this stuff, y’all are the greatest!). So after exchanging a few texts we were able to find each other in the crowded square. He was so nice, he brought me a welcome gift! It was a stick made of willow that boys use on Easter Monday to swat girls on the butt to bring them fertility! Sounds weird, but it was very thoughtful and I am very grateful for it! He showed us around Old Town a little bit and showed us where he lived when he first moved here. He also gave us more information on the Astronomical Clock that we would not have otherwise known. It was an insiders tour and it was awesome! After that, he had a meeting with some friends at a pub and invited us to come along. So we joined and got to try some traditional food and experience some of the local culture that you wouldn’t really get if you stayed in the main tourist parts of the city! It was really awesome, and now I have someone else to help convince my family to come back next summer! 😉
On our last day we made our way up to Prague Castle. The views were stunning! There was a Cathedral up there that was absolutely incredible!!! After that we went back to the Easter markets and bought our souvenirs!
We each found some pretty awesome traditional eggs. These eggs have had holes drilled in them and the yolk and the whites drained out and then they are decorated with intricate designs! I love them!
And now the food… We ate a lot of street food from the Easter markets, which was cheap and gave a good taste of traditional food. We had some homemade potato chips, homemade lemonade, donuts, grilled cheese that was literally a piece of cheese that they threw on the grill until it was gooey and then put it on a piece of rye bread, and of course trdelnik (we didn’t know how to say this so we called them turtlenecks because the word looked a little like it and the food looked like a turtleneck as well) which is dough that is wound around a stick then cooked over the fire and rolled in cinnamon and sugar… mmmm…. it was all so good!
Prague was the perfect last vacation of this volunteer trip. It was fun and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt most of the time! I am so grateful for this experience and the life that I am getting to live!!!