Sunday, August 3, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 7 (28 June)

Breakfast at the hotel was wonderful. They had cocoa puffs, fruit, and a very extensive selection of pastries available. Before loading on the bus to go back into Brno, we found out that one of the guys on our trip had gone to the hospital the night before for high blood pressure (tingling in his arm). We also found out more about a guy who had fallen off the fire escape outside his room the first night in London. That guy apparently had his arm mangled when he landed atop a power generator, aside from having his pelvis shattered, a bone broken in his back, and five bones broken in his face. He wasn't going to be let out of the hospital for two weeks at minimum, and his mom was flying to London to be with him.

In any case, we were supposed to have started with a guided tour in Brno, but since Barbora and Jana were going to visit the guy with the blood pressure problems, we went to Mendel's abbey first (Gregor Mendel - father of the study of modern genetics). The abbey was really very beautiful, but there were no benches so that anyone could sit down and enjoy the garden. I got my picture taken with Mendel, but our guy on the trip that was a little bit special took the picture, so he cut off Mendel's head. I got a postcard for Miss Wagner there, so I hope she likes it.

After that we really did go to Brno town square to visit and appreciate the churches there. I think we saw four, but I'm not positive. One of them had a little naked man mooning the town hall. Apparently the architect wasn't given his promised price/fees for the church. Isn't that a nice way to be remembered? We noticed all day that more and more police were showing up in the area around the town square. We broke for about an hour and a half so we could get something resembling lunch (that's not quite long enough for a proper meal here), at which time some of us got gelato. We ate that on a bench in the town square and found out why the police were gathering: the country's first Gay Pride demonstration, to be held there on that day. The neo-Nazis, as well as one priest carrying a large cross, showed up at the demonstration to protest. The skin-heads brought eggs and firecrackers. After one firecracker went off, we hid behind a pillar at McDonald's. Unfortunately, it was also time to meet with Z. In the town square. We all made it safely back to the bus, the only casualty being a girl who had been egged while she was in the crowd (I found out later that one guy had also been pushed over by a neo-Nazi, and he had a big scab on his leg for several days). The Gay Pride demonstration was legit, so that meant that the Czech SWAT-type guys needed to be there. Everyone was talking about the riot on the bus, of course. I made an effort to keep quiet.

Our next stop was Slakov (Austerlitz), aka "The Battle of the Three Emperors." We saw a memorial there, which was actually the territory of France, so we got to stand in the Czech Republic and France at the same time. We went next to a memorial built to commemorate all of the soldiers who fought in that battle. From the Memorial of Peace to the wine cellar, someone (the other Jessica) asked me what I thought of the riot. I became rather unpopular when people found out I had conservative political and social views.

Dinner at the wine cellar was nice. I had a half glass of white wine, a half glass of red wine, and tasted two other white wines after dinner. I liked the white better than the red, and the second taster better than the first. There was a bread with a rich, flavorful lard-based spread, pork goulash, and apple strudel. My camera was starting to complain of low battery power, so I didn't get many pictures taken. The AIFS personnel didn't load us back onto the bus right away after dinner, but we were made to take a walk first, so that we could sober up a little.

Back at the hotel we hung out at the restaurant for a while, but the stress, wine, extra energy from no karate, and the frustration of being the only one with my conservative viewpoint on the trip added up for a horrendous bout of homesickness, so I headed back up to the room to have a little cry and to work out some. Alicia came back up to the room for a bit before going back down to the bar. I felt a bit better after a bath, then went to bed. Alicia was out to 3 in the morning.

Where Mendel's greenhouse used to sit.

Gregor Mendel

One of the churches in Brno

A very small part of another church

The battlefield at Austerlitz

Outside the winery

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