On Friday, we started touring by 10 in the morning and made it to quite a few places throughout the day. Our first stop was St. Vitus Cathedral, which was up on top of a tall hill we had to climb. However, the cathedral was absolutely beautiful, so it made the climb worth it. After that, we watched the changing of the guards at Prague Castle and then eventually made our way into the castle to tour it. It was such a neat place to see, and I was reminded how much I love visiting castles. We went St. George's Basilica also, and although it was small, it was interesting to visit because of how old it was. We then finished off the planned portion of the day by going to the Golden Lane, which was a road with many small historic houses that had exhibits in them about life many years ago in Prague. Once we finished at the Golden Lane, I went with Miranda, Jessica, Miriah, and Keyli for lunch, and then we made it up another hill to the Petřín Lookout Tower. After climbing 299 steps, we made it to the top, and were greeted with a beautiful view of the city. I never realized how big Prague was until I saw it from the tower. After all of that walking and climbing though, we were ready to rest, and we returned to the hostel. After a few hours, I went back out with Miranda, Jessica, and Jon to Charles Bridge, because we wanted to see it, and the city, all lit up at night. It was really beautiful, and none of my pictures can do it justice. We ate some supper while we were out, and then returned to the hostel where we spent another night just hanging out together and playing games.
On Saturday, we left the hostel by 8 so we could make it to our train to Dresden. It still completely blows my mind that we could take one two hour train ride and end up in a different country! Dresden was a beautiful place, but it was also a very sad place as well because of how much of it was destroyed at the end of WWII by bombs. One such building, the Dresden Frauenkirche, is a Lutheran church that was destroyed during the war and then eventually rebuilt. The cool thing about how it was rebuilt is that some of the original stones were used in the new church, which is why some of the bricks are much darker than others. We ate some lunch and then returned to the church to go inside and then climb up to the top of the dome at the church and get a bird's eye view of Dresden. After that, we split up and some people went to an art gallery, and some of us went to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, which is a museum in the Dresden Castle. It had a lot of cool artifacts ranging from medieval armor to many different royal treasures. We met back at the church after that and made our way back to Prague. I ate a small supper, and then we spent another night hanging out as a group, but not for as late as the other nights, because the Czech Republic finally had their Daylight Savings time change. It was kind of depressing to have to go through a second time change, after just going through one three weeks ago, but I think I'll survive.
Sunday was definitely the most humbling and sobering of the days on our field trip. We checked out of our hostel but left our bags there so we could go to the Jewish Quarters in Prague. The first place we went there was the Pinkas Synagogue. It used to be a Jewish Synagogue, but is now a museum/memorial for the Jewish people of the Czech Republic that were killed during the Holocaust. They had all of the names of the people killed written on the walls in multiple different rooms, and they even had artwork done by the Jewish children at that time who were living in the ghetto. It was hard to get through but also very interesting to see. After that, we went to the Old Jewish Cemetery. The cemetery is unique because for around four hundred years, it was the only place that the Jews were able to bury their dead. So when they ran out of room at the cemetery, they put a new layer of dirt down and moved the tombstones to the top layer so they could bury more people. There are actually around twelve layers of graves at the cemetery. We then went to the Klausen Synagogue which had many Jewish artifacts in it regarding burial ceremonies and things of the like. It was very interesting to read about the Jewish customs and see some of the items they had there. After that, we went for lunch and did some more souvenir shopping before meeting and returning to Olomouc.
I definitely learned a lot this weekend. Not only did we see many old and beautiful historic buildings, but we learned about the history behind them and discovered that history has both a good and a bad side. But no matter whether the moment was good or bad, there is always a lesson that can be taught and new things that can be learned.