Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kutna Hora

View of Kutna Hora

Church of St. Barbara

Creepy little cherub with a skull on its knee

Cave of bones

Close-up of the bird picking out the 'eye' of the skull

Bone coat of arms

Me, looking singularly unimpressed by the skulls

The bone chandelier


Yesterday Dan and I went to Kutna Hora, home of the creepy church decorated with the bones of some 40,000 medieval plague victims (who thinks these things up?) There is even a chandelier which supposedly contains all the bones in the human body, plus a family crest which features a bone raven picking out the 'eye' of a skull. Cool! Actually, it's not as creepy as you'd imagine: it must be the least peaceful last resting-place in the world. All you can see is camera flashes going off on every side. Happily, what must have been a tour group pushed off after a little while so it was a bit less crowded after that. The rest of the day Dan & I just walked around the town (I reckon we must have walked about 8-10 kms all day. Yes, ranch, I know you walked across Spain, throw me a frickin' bone!) which was quite cool, although blighted in parts with Soviet tower blocks. Then we went into St. Barbara's Cathedral, which was also cool - stained glass windows from the turn of (last) century & medieval frescoes on the walls, a good combination.
Our trip to Kutna Hora, however, began with a descent into the portals of hell which is Prague train station. It's ugly, it's hot, it's crowded, there are little carts everywhere selling suspect hotdogs, there are few signs even in Czech and none in English and everyone is supremely unhelpful. We found this old Czech guy on the train we thought we might have to catch and he came out with us and asked a woman in uniform which train we needed and she just went "I don't know" (in Czech) and turned away. Thanks! But the queen bitch was at the English-speaking information desk. I asked, very politely, which platform we needed: "Go to platform only twenty minutes before!" "Okay, but which platform?" "GO TO PLATFORM ONLY TWENTY MINUTES BEFORE!" Still imagining there was some sort of lapse in communication, I tried again, "Which platform?" "TRAIN AT 12.06. PLATFORM NOT BEFORE TWENTY MINUTES!!!!" Seriously, she was screaming at us... Ah well, we got there in the end, but don't rely on Czech customer service skills - I think she was probably trained up by the Communists...

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like you need to keep your head down and not let on you're English-speaking....

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  2. Hard to do if you want to make it out of the hellhole station!

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  3. I enjoyed that, gave me a good laugh

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  4. Yeah - time for the next instalment!

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  5. Ah, Prague train station. This was how I entered Prague way back when. Since I flew into Vienna, I forgot to change my euros into kronors and so when I got there, had no money. The only machine that took credit card for a metro ticket wasn't working and the 3 ATMs littered around the station were all out of order, the money exchange was closed even though it was around 2 in the afternoon and its hours clearly stated that it was open until 6. When I asked if there were any banks nearby, they sent me to the money exchange and when I went to the travel information office, they sent me to the ticket booths. One of the women just stared at me blankly and stopped talking to me altogether. Finally I had to ask a couple if they could buy me a train ticket. I think I spent about 2 hours wandering/being frustrated/fighting with ticket machines before I finally realized that I needed help. Worst train station ever.

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    Replies
    1. Ha, sounds about right. I think I've heard they've done a bit of renovation, but whether they've worked on the staff...

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