By Tara Martinelli
Where in the world is Tara? As my fellow students know, the only thing keeping us going through the struggles of midterms is the promise of spring break at the end. Because of how my class schedule works out, my spring break lasted for 12 days. In those 12 days, I hit four different cities. I ate some amazing pizza in Naples, hiked up a mountain on the Amalfi Coast and soaked up some sun in Mallorca. However, the strangest stop on my spring break was Prague, Czech Republic.
One of the best parts about traveling is the people you get to meet along the way. My trip to Prague started on my flight next to a man from the Czech Republic. I was, of course, doing what everyone does the moments before taking off: sending last minute Snapchats.
Strangely enough, this last minute snapping actually made me a friend.
The man sitting next to me asked me what on earth I was doing. I guess I look more ridiculous snapchatting than I originally thought. We ended up talking for the duration of the flight about everything from Donald Trump to olive oil to how we tie our shoes differently. Who would have thought that snapchatting would lead to me having a two hour conversation with a 42-year -old Czech man? What does that say about Snapchat? What does that say about me?
Upon landing in Prague, my roommate (shout out to Hannah Feeney GSB ’18 for honeymooning with me and putting up with me for far too long) and I headed to the Old Prague Hostel. We trudged inside at 1 a.m. to find that the hostel was cash only. And of course, they don’t use Euros in Prague so we were left to hit the streets at 1 a.m. in search of an ATM. Although not the smoothest of starts, we did manage to find a place that was called “Bronx Pizza.” It felt like we were back at home.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to plan out our day. People gave us recommendations of what to do and we were determined to do it all. So we head out on an uphill journey to Prague Castle. We made a few stops along the way to the astronomical clock and to get a trdelnik (a kind of split cake). The astronomical clock was situated with a tower that provided amazing views of the whole city while the trdelnik provided the first steps to my spring break weight gain. A trdelnik is a hollow, cylindrical pastry that is covered with sugar. Mine was hollow until I put some soft serve ice cream up in there.
The walk to the castle was anything but boring. The streets were filled with people of all ages enjoying their Friday in a number of ways. People were eating, drinking and playing games in the street. The bustle reminded me of the streets of New York except instead of the streets being filled with tourists, they were filled with the people of Prague. Part of me wondered what these people did for a living that they could be drinking outside at 11 a.m. on a Friday but who am I to judge? It looks like a great life!
We made it to Prague Castle which was just as amazing as everyone said it would be. Prague is one of the only cities in Europe that seems as though it has been perfectly preserved throughout history. Why would anyone try to destroy a city where beer is cheaper than water? The city has a very old-fashioned feel to it that made us feel like we were stepping back in time. It was definitely a nice change from London and some of the other cities I have visited.
However, there are some weird things that come out of Prague being perfectly preserved. I don’t know how much I believe in ghosts, but Prague is said to be one of the most haunted cities in Europe. When their resting place remain intact, apparently ghosts linger around their old haunting grounds. Pun 100 percent intended. Hannah and I decided to look into this a little further and take the scariest tour Prague has to offer. Usually, these kinds of things don’t turn out to be that scary, however, THIS WAS DIFFERENT.
We went down into the dungeons of one of the old castles and learned about a group of 27 men who were executed on the steps of the castle to pay for the crimes they had committed. In the dungeons, we learned about some of the prisoners and visited the torture chambers they were held in for years before being executed. Just seeing these places was chilling enough for me. Once the tour guide tried to summon the ghosts, I wanted to run out of there as fast as I could. I thought it was all nonsense until we entered one of the chambers. I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed with a headache and a stomach ache. I thought it maybe had something to do with being hungry or something of that sort. However, a few minutes later, our tour guide told us that many people complain of a headache upon entering this room because of all of the spirits that have been trapped in there for eternity.
Whoa. Spooky, am I right? What a way to kick off spring break.
And so, for the rest of my travels, there were two things I couldn’t stop thinking about. Did I really encounter a ghost down there? And do they make trdelniks anywhere else?