The City of Defenestration–Prague!

Ahh, Prague!  A city rich in history, architecture, and…defenestration?  Allow me to elaborate with some help from dictionary.com. 

Defenestration: 

de·fen·es·tra·tion [dee-fen-uhstrey-shuh n]

–noun

the act of throwing a thing or esp. a person out of a window: the defenestration of the commissioners at Prague.

It is no coincidence that Prague appears in the example sentence.  Defenestration was developed because of Prague, where throwing people from windows became, if not common, at least associated with the city.  Let’s turn once again to our friends at dictionary.com for the origins.

1620, “the action of throwing out of a window,” from L. fenestra  “window.” A word invented for one incident: the “Defenestration of Prague,” May 21, 1618, when two Catholic deputies to the Bohemian national assembly and a secretary were tossed out the window (into a moat) of the castle of Hradshin by Protestant radicals. It marked the start of the Thirty Years War.

Now that you can understand some of the city’s gruesome past and violent reputation, let’s start from the beginning of our travels to Czech Republic’s capital city.

Russ, Daryl, and I began our 4 hr. journey to Prague on Friday.  Initially we were pretty nervous about this (almost every website we read recommended we NOT drive into Prague for security reasons), but as flights and trains were expensive, we carried on.  We stopped on the border of Czech Republic and Germany to buy a driving sticker to make us legal on the highways and to get something to eat.  It was at this time that we realized we had made one of the etiquette errors that we simply hate in tourists; we didn’t learn the language.  Any of it.  Despite the research and the research and the detailed planning of our time in the city, we failed. Typically it is polite to at least learn the words used in frequency: yes, no, thank you, etc., but not a word was on our tongues.  We swallowed our pride and embraced our Americanness.  We chowed down on cuisine that can only be described as an “on the border” mix of German and Czech.  Daryl succumbed to his Americanness even further by ordering “Chicken Fingers ala KFC.”  I embellish nothing.  This is how it appeared on the menu.

A few short hours later and we began to realize why driving in Prague was not such a good idea.  Narrow streets, cars, pedestrians, trains, trams!  The most dangerous aspect of it all was that the cars drive on top of the rails for the trams.  No problem, right?  Well, in Prague the trams have the right of way!  You must check all directions to make sure that the trams are not coming before you turn because the trams cannot swerve or stop.

Defenestration be damned!  Enter death by tramcar.  We were more than relieved to reach the hotel and leave the car parked all weekend long.  Good job driving, Russ, and thanks!

 After we settled into the hotel we decided to head out into the streets of Prague for some exploration and eventually dinner.  It’s hard to explain the feeling of walking onto the streets of Prague for the first time.  The infrastructure was breathtaking and so beautifully lit at night.  The buildings are massive and architecturally-moving.  What struck me the most was that everything fit together, a completely integrated city facade.  This is different, perhaps, because we are used to touring German cities where we inevitably hear, “This part of the city was rebuilt after heavy destruction in WWII.”  Prague, however, was left virtually untouched during WWII thanks to an Allied agreement (save for one accidental bombing).

Russ and Lauren in "New Town" Prague

A Tower of the Old Gate Guarding the City

 

Panoramic View of Old Town Square

The concierge at the hotel had pointed us to Old Town, so we spent the night exploring.  We walked through cobblestone streets of shops, gawked at the buildings, and absorbed some local culture. Eventually we decided that it was time to take in some Czech cuisine.  Russ spotted a great outdoor restaurant that sat right beside Old Town Square.  The place was cozy and so warmed by space heaters that we enjoyed are entire meal without our coats. 

Russ and Lauren with Our Czech Specialties

Daryl with Cathedral View

The restaurant was also special because it was adjacent to the famous astronomical clock, where people gathered every hour to hear the chimes, watch the characters, and listen to the trumpet cadence.  It was great getting to experience this from our gemütlich restaurant.  (Gemütlich is not easy to translate to English, but basically means a sense of comfort/coziness/and hominess that is essential in all German households).

The Astronomical Clock

The View from our Restaurant

We enjoyed our night and our seats so much that we ordered delicious desserts.  Daryl, dumplings filled with cheese; Lauren, apple streusel with cinnamon ice cream; and Russ, real hot chocolate.  Warm, satisfied, and full of questions about the city, we decided to call it a night.  The next day we would be meeting our private tour guide, Lucie, for a get-to-know-Prague rampage starting at 9 am.  We had Lucie for 4 hrs. Saturday and again on Sunday for 4 hours.  There is no better way to see the city than with someone who lives it every day! (Degrees in history/art history don’t hurt either!).

Tomorrow: Defenestration Day!  Prepare your dung heaps! (Stay tuned for an explanation). 

Thanks again to dictionary.com for the help with etymology.

defenestration. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved November 11, 2010, from Dictionary.com website http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/defenestration

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4 responses to this post.

  1. A post worthy of photography and writing awards! Beautiful words, beautiful places, beautiful people…all captured exquisitely!

    Reply

  2. Hey guy… this is a really good going blog work.. keep it up .. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Posted by will on November 19, 2010 at 3:04 am

    So nice that you and Russ are having such a great European adventure. Looks like Daryl was enjoying himself also.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Uncle D on November 25, 2010 at 6:37 am

    i’m reliving the trip with every post. great job!

    Reply

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