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A Weekend in Prague

Posted on: 11th March 2015 | Category: Trips and excursions

One of the many wonderful things about Surval is the opportunity it gives our students to travel.  During this academic year alone, Surval has already visited Italy, Spain, Austria and France, and on Friday 6th March, a group of girls set off to add the Czech Republic to the list, with a weekend visit to its capital, Prague.

We arrived at lunchtime and ate at a traditional Czech restaurant, sampling typical Czech cuisine – beef goulash with white bread dumplings.  After a very early flight, the girls then had free time in the afternoon so settle in, explore Prague and get a feel for the city.  Some enjoyed the shops on the famous Wenceslas Square, others visited museums and churches, whilst others ventured into the Old Town and wandered round a Czech market.  At the end of the day, we returned to the hotel, eager to share with others the sights we had seen.

Our first stop on Saturday was the National Marionette Theatre.  Marionette theatre, we discovered, has a long history in the Czech Republic.  We were taken backstage and saw puppets which had been used in professional productions such as Don Giovanni.  Afterwards came our chance to make our very own puppets.  Provided with all the necessary materials, we connected the bodies of our puppets together and dressed them.  We threaded string from the arms and legs to bring them to life, making them wave, bow, skip and dance across the tables.  It was fascinating to discover the process behind this art, as Princess Claudine from the Philippines enthused: “I found it really interesting to learn about how puppets were made – especially their heads and their outfits.  I had fun making my own puppet too.”

The next item on our agenda was a tour of Prague and we were lucky enough to be graced with glorious weather for this.  Walking along the quaint cobbled streets, we learned about the vibrant history of Prague, both ancient and modern.  What was particularly striking about Prague’s architecture was that it was so varied – Prague did not suffer many bombing raids during World War II so architecture from many different periods is still very well preserved.  One of the highlights of the tour was the famous Charles Bridge, a pedestrian bridge across the Vltava River.  It was lined with stalls, musicians, artists, street entertainers, and bustling with pedestrians.  Prague was abuzz and the Vltava River glistened in the sunshine.

That night we saw Prague - literally - in a different light, as we took a dinner cruise along the river.  The river now glistened not with the sun but with the reflection of the beautiful buildings on the riverside.  Prague by night was another experience altogether; everything seemed to have taken on a new character, and the views from the boat were beautiful.  The bustling Charles Bridge was now quiet and gently lit, whereas buildings which had seemed less remarkable during the day had come alive with lights, and one could only imagine the music recitals, theatre productions and fine dinners they hosted inside.

On Sunday morning we rose early for a sobering visit to the nearby town of Terezin, home to one of the infamous Nazi concentration camps.  On entering the camp, we were met with the cruel empty promise represented by the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’.  During our visit we encountered horror after horror, bringing new meaning to everything we had ever read and learned about Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’.  The camp itself had actually existed as a prison for hundreds of years before the Nazis.  We viewed the cell of Gavrilo Princip, the man who had assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand leading to the outbreak of World War I.  This tied in with what many of us had been studying in history, and brought it to life for us.  The visit to Terezin was poignant and humbling and, as Eva from Mexico conveys, a very unique experience: “The visit to the concentration camp was very interesting.  It wasn’t like any museum I have been to before – I found it very special.”

After an emotional morning, it was time for some light relief in the afternoon.  We explored even more of this magnificent city, but this time on segways!  The sun continued to shine for us as we had great fun exploring the Prague Castle complex – the largest castle complex in the world.  We zoomed up Petrin Hill and through Petrin Park to enjoy magnificent views over Prague.  Our guides recounted in an engaging manner the history of communism in the Czech Republic, as well as giving us an insight into the current politics and culture of the country from a young Czech person’s point of view.  The segway tour had been the idea of one of our girls – Maria from the USA – and she was not disappointed: “The segways were so much fun.  I am so happy the teachers let us go on them.  I loved Prague – it was so different but beautiful.  The views were just amazing, and the teachers also had fun.  It was really cool to see everyone so happy.”

Maria’s enthusiasm was shared by everyone, and we returned to Surval on a high with many stories to share.  Here is what another two of our girls had to say about their weekend in the Czech Republic:

“The trip to Prague was wonderful and delightful.  We had a really great time and got to know the whole city.”  (Luisa, Brazil)

“I really enjoyed the trip – the activities were interesting and really fun.  I had a great time in Prague.” (Lucia, Mexico)

 

 

                       

Click here to see more photos from our trip to Prague!


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