Day 12: Day Trip to Kutna Hora

Since our alcohol intake from the evening before was virtually non-existent (the wine from dinner didn’t count), we popped out of bed at 8:00, showered, and had our usual breakfast at Café Ebel.  Today was the day we were going to day trip to Kutna Hora, a town about 80 km outside of Prague.  We got to the main train station (Hlavni Nadrazi) after running the gauntlet that is Wenceslas Square and found the correct ticket line to get our train tickets.  What could possibly be the nicest train ticket selling lady ever assisted us, and she made sure we understood the route and also gave us information on the return trip (even though we hadn’t told her it was just a day trip.  She knew.  She was that good).  Total cost was 270 CZK.

Armed with our tickets and schedule information, we stopped to purchase a chicken sandwich to eat on the train along with our pre-purchased chipsies, grapes, and cookies, a sandwich that turned out to be one of the best sandwiches ever.  And coupled with the best wafer cookies ever, a Zlate Oplatky cookie from the Opavia-Lu company, it was a mighty fine lunch.

Inside the Ossuary, complete with human-bone chandelier

The train journey only took about an hour to take us to the Kutna Hora hl.n station, where we had to transfer to a train-bus thing to take to Sedlec where the ossuary was.  Once in Sedlec, we eventually found signs pointing us to the Ossuary (it was pretty close to the train-bus station) and were able to get in just ahead of a rather large tour group full of seniors.  We paid the entrance fee of 50 CZK/each and went in to find this was one of the oddest, creepiest churches in the history of churches.  Come to think of it, this trip has been filled with seeing some of the creepiest things on the planet.  But this ossuary (only one of a handful in the world, thankfully) is decorated entirely of human bones inside, including a chandelier made up of every single bone in the human body.  I just don’t know what else you can say about it except, “Huh.  That’s just the darndest thing.”

Leaving the ossuary behind, we decided to walk into Kutna Hora instead of waiting for another train-bus thing.  It was all well and good and we headed in the correct general direction, but we didn’t exactly have a map of where we were going, only a mildly accurate general sense.  The walk took a good 20 minutes before we reached what looked to be the Old Town in Kutna Hora and another 10-15 of walking in circles before we reached St. Barbara’s Cathedral, a structure that looks like a giant circus tent (how could we miss that?).  After finding the TI near the cathedral and getting a proper mappy, we declined to pay to go into St. Bab’s (as I was now calling it), instead opting to go in search of a café for a coffee.  We were successful in doing so in the main square in Kutna Hora, sitting outdoors at a cute café where a couple with a baby sat next to us and with whom Jim played peek-a-boo.

Does anyone else see circus tent?

After our much-needed coffee break, we wandered over to see the nearby Italian Court, then meandered all over town photographing impossibly old looking buildings before heading back to the Kutna Hora Mesto train station where we were going to board the train-bus thing again to ride back to the Kutna Hora hl.n train station to transfer to the main train back to Prague.  Once at Kutna Hora Mesto, we saw a waiting train-bus thing but were unsure of the direction it was headed.  I asked the conductor if it was going towards Sedlec (I said Sedlec because I didn’t know how to pronounce the hl.n in the main train station’s name) and he said yes.  Well, apparently my query prompted him to tell the train-bus driver to stop in Sedlec for us, something we didn’t want to do and it was a bit awkward to try to explain that to the burly train conductor once the train-bus driver made the effort to make the stop.  Let’s just say the rest of the ride was a bit uncomfortable, with the train conductor leering at us.

We arrived at the Kutna Hora hl.n station at 16:00, just in time to see a big train leaving to Kolin, but we were unsure if that would benefit us and get us to Prague sooner so we decided to wait it out until our actual train arrived at 17:00 to take us back.  We arrived back to Prague around 18:00 and walked back to our room for a bit to take a load off.

Once we had rested, we went out in search of a Mexican (yes, Mexican!) restaurant called Cantina (on the castle side of the water) that Jimmy had found on the day before.  After eating lots of meat and potatoes or Italian for almost 2 weeks we were dying for a change of pace, and this place certainly fit the bill.  In fact, it was almost not to be as we didn’t have a reservation and the place was jam-packed.  But Jimmy once again charmed the host with his command of Czech and we were offered a prime table near the door upon the contingency that we were out of there by 20:30 (it was currently 19:00).  No problem for a couple who eats like it’s their job.  I started with a pina colada and ordered a Burrito Ranchero (an awesome burrito with marinated steak, rice, beans, lettuce, sour cream, and pico de gallo), Jimmy started with a beer and ordered the pork fajitas.  It was all good, better than Mexican food in Chicago.  We were out by 20:10 and everyone involved was pleased.

Needing to walk a bit to help relieve that Mexican-full feeling we took the long way home, up and around to the Charles Bridge, over it to Old Town, and up through the Jewish Quarter.  We ultimately wound up at a place called Café 12 for a Sambuca, where it appears to have been ‘80s night with the music.  Nothing like hearing native Czech speakers loudly sing out Cindy Lauper tunes in English.

On our way back from Café 12, Jimmy noted that part of what makes Prague feel so plastic-y is that it doesn’t feel like a working city.  Aside from the droves of people with maps in hand, in Old Town the only stores you can find are kiosks of crap (crystal, marionettes, gaudy souvenirs, etc.), there are no “everyday” type stores.  No hardware store, no bridal shops, no electronics stores, not even any clothing stores within Old Town.  It’s just odd, like what happened to the people and where do they go to shop when they need more than a Prague Drinking Team or Czech Me Out t-shirt?  I liken it to Disney during the day, Vegas at night.

Whatever it is, Prague is architecturally a beautiful city but it feels like a shell without its abalone.

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