Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 20 and 21 - All The Lovely Bones And Scott Heads Home

Note:  After looking at Day 21, I didn't think I had enough for a whole post.  So I'm going to combine them with 20.  Added stuff is at the bottom.  KH

Hey Team,

Day two in the Czech Republic and for our activities today, Scott and I are daytripping away from Prague and heading to a little town an hour away by the name of Kutna Hora, which was an important silver mining region in the Middle Ages.  This historically is the second most important city in all of Bohemia, and was a favorite residence of many of the Bohemian Kings.  There are a lot of important churches and buildings from the 14th century here, but Scott and I really came down for one thing:  The Sedlec Ossuary.

Looks like a normal little church right?  It even has a beautiful cemetery surrounding the grounds.  In 1278, an abbot from the monastery nearby brought back some dirt from Golgotha and sprinkled it on the site, and from that point anyone of prominence requested to be buried here.  After the Plague and several wars, the number of people who needed to be laid to rest increased substantially and the cemetery had to be expanded to accommodate.

The church was built around 1400 and all of the bones that had to be removed for the building where placed inside as an ossuary.  In the 19th century, someone got the idea that rather than just store all of these folks, perhaps it would be better to show them off.  So you get this:

This is the front entrance.  Some people have "Home Sweet Home", some people go this route.  Just in case there's any confusion, none of these are plastic fakes that were picked up on special in the holiday aisle at Kroger's.  You're looking at the real deal here.

This is the coat of arms for the family that ruled these lands, which goes to show you not only the importance of the chapel, but also the happy and cheery persona that these lords projected to the populace.

Here's the chandelier in the center of the chapel.  It contains at least one of every bone in the human body.

So I don't have the best idea of what things looked like before they came in and added their artistic touches, but there are 4 of these bell shaped columns in the chapel that look similar to this.  All of them taller than me and 1.5 times as wide.  Apparently 40,000 people's bones are in this church and on display.

Here's a shot of Scott and me hanging out next to all of our new friends.  As you can see we totally annihilated the surrounding competition when it came to largest skull size, once again asserting American dominance over the competition.

After we finished off at the Ossuary, we caught a couple of other churches before heading back to Prague.

This is at the Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist which was built beginning in the 12th century and is the oldest cathedral in the Czech Republic.

Apparently displaying decayed human remains is a reoccurring theme here because once again we get to see somebody's insides. This is actually a patron saint of the church and therefore considered a Holy Relic.  Just in case you missed this specific one, the church is offering a two for one special with another just on the other side of he altar.  See, sometimes the best things in life are free (Hi Five)!

This is from the other big dog church in the town, St. Barbara's.  I hate to say this, but I am beginning to hit cathedral fatigue.  Many people told me about this phenomena, but I didn't think it would be happen.  Most of the churches I've see have been in the Gothic style, like Notre Dame and St. Vitus and these two.  They are all beautiful beautiful places of worship, but they are starting to run together with the main distinguishing characteristic being the color of the walls and the little chapels surrounding the middle of the church.  Here is a beautiful section of this one I saw.

Here's a shot of Kutna Hora from an elevated area.  It's no Prague but pretty good nonetheless.

Our next day was our last in the Czech Republic and was Scott's last on the trip.  It's a bummer that he had to head home (we had a blast) but I think we made the most of it and had some great experiences.  For the grand finale we daytripped again from Prague and saw a castle about 30 minutes or so away from Prague called Karlstejn Castle.  Once again, King Charles IV was the one to build it.  This thing was huge by the way, but unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside. What else kinda stunk was that they wouldn't take us to the best rooms in the castle.  You had to pay extra and book days in advance which we didn't know about until it we got there.  However, it was a good looking place and the town surrounding it was very nice.  Here's some shots:

Here's the castle.  That big structure is the Great Tower (walls are 4-6 m thick) which used to hold the Crown Jewels and Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire.

As you can tell, this bad boy is a bit off the ground, which made for a difficult time in over running it.  So what do you do?  Well obviously you besiege the castle by camping outside the walls for months at a time and then resort to "biological warfare" by lobbing dead bodies and feces over the walls in the hopes that they will infect the populace inside.  Despite these efforts, the castle was not taken.  And it had such potential . .

No blog of our time together would be complete without showing you a shot of Scott facing away from me.  If I had one of these, I have 50 where he randomly wanders into the photo in the last second.  It got to be a running joke of the trip actually.  This one however, was on purpose because it shows what we did for about 30 minutes, which was go straight up this hill in order to get to the castle that wouldn't allow us to take pictures.  I don't know if this was Scott's idea of punishing me or what, but it seems like half of the activities we did together involved the need to have spent a considerable amount of time on a stair stepper.  I've never missed Houston so much in my life.

But it was all worth it in the end!  Behold this massive sugar wafer.  These things cost a buck and are probably not the ideal snack for me since they are basically 95% sugar.  Of course, that didn't stop me from eating 2 of them before the tour started.

And here's a pretty view of the town after the tour of the castle.  The surrounding area around Prague is very pretty, but I think we all agree that Prague was definitely the best of the lot.

And for all of you "How I Met Your Mother" Fans (That would be me by the way), I have great news.  If you ever lose your copy of the Bro Code on your next European trip, fear not. . .You can still Suit Up as Barney is never far away and translated into 46 languages.

So after we got back to Prague, I hit a night train to Krakow, Poland and Scott got to hang out all night at the airport waiting for his flight back to the States.  Everyone got to their respective destinations safely thankfully and I have to say the latest Homann Brother's Trip was an overwhelming success.  Had a blast dude and hope you did as well.  Thanks for coming.

Tomorrow I go it alone again, and I'll be reporting on the eastern most portion of the trip in Poland.  Later . . .