When I think of a zoo, I usually think of a crowded sweaty place packed with yelling kids (aka the Houston Zoo). This was not the case for the Prague zoo. The Prague zoo was like no other I’ve ever been to before. It was tranquil and peaceful. The zoo was spread out across many acres that mimicked a natural habitat. My favorite section was the giraffe area. The outer surroundings held many tall trees and hills with a few Czech style houses in the background. The calm atmosphere made me almost forget that I was at a zoo.
Another surprising aspect about the Prague zoo was its huge size. My handy iPhone calculated that we walked 6 miles that day. Each animal’s area looked completely different from one another and it was spread out far from the next section. Some areas were not only giant in length, but in height. For example, the mountain goats had tall rocky hills to walk up. Also, there were many exotic animals that we had never seen before in America. I saw a toucan with four beaks that looked like a bunch of bananas. We saw strange monkeys that came up to the fence to say hello to all its visitors. Overall, this was an enjoyable weekend activity set at a good price. There was a nice shaded eating area with inexpensive hot dogs, gelato, and yes, even beer. We had such a relaxing time at the zoo that we wanted to stay all day!
After staying in Paris for a couple days, I quickly realized that the French love their gardens, flowers, fountains, and statues. They take pride in having a beautiful city. They seem to decorate every corner with exotic flowers or elaborate statues. There were bouquet and potted plant stands lining every street. I had no doubt that Paris was beautiful.
One area that significantly stood out to me were the Luxembourg gardens. The area was massive and carefully detailed and maintained. It was filled with perfectly trimmed hedges and rows of roses. The fountains and ponds were lined with lawn chairs with people relaxing and reading. The three of us felt so inspired by its beauty, that Victoria read us a passage from Les Miserables about a scene placed in those the same gardens. We all wanted to spend hours there, yet with only two days in Paris, we had much more to see (maybe too much to see in such a big city filled with landmarks). It was hard not to be envious of the locals that could sunbathe and sit with friends for hours in an area with such a peaceful atmosphere. There was even a giant fountain with children sailing off their toy boats from one end of the fountain to the other. In a city where everything costs many Euros, this is one of the few free activities within the city. Seeing these beautiful gardens, made me realize that this would be the perfect weekend activity if I ever came back to Paris.
On Saturday we decided to finally go to the Petřín Lookout Tower (or Petřínská rozhledna). The Lookout Tower is situated on top of Petřín, one of the highest hills in Prague. The Petřín tower closely resembles the Eiffel Tower, but is much shorter in height. However, the top of the Petřín tower is higher than the Eiffel Tower since it is on top of the hill overlooking the city. We took advantage of clear and sunny weather and decided to go see the best view in town. In fact, it was actually warm enough to wear shorts for once! We had no idea that the walk to the Lookout Tower would be a such a long trek. However, if you don’t want the long walk to the top of the hill, you can take the funicular up and down the hill for free with the tram pass. The journey up the hill to the tower is an experience in itself. There are many beautiful views, colorful flowers, and “magical gardens”. Literally, there are areas called the “magical gardens”. The trail looked straight out of a fairy tale. On our way up the hill, we even saw unusual purple leaved trees with spiraling green branches. Once we got to the tower, we only paid 100 crowns to get to the top. The cost was without a doubt worth the view. You could the entire city and miles and miles of greenery beyond the city. I would recommend this inexpensive weekend activity to anyone visiting Prague.
The Spectator’s Point of View
The King’s Parade was like nothing I had seen before. The parade started at the Prague Castle where an elaborate King and Queen were introduced along with the shining crown jewels. The “servants” carried the jewels all across the city while music played from a line of drums. The parade stomped downhill for 2-3 miles and ended with a concert for the King and Queen. This was also a free event, so many people visiting Prague flocked the streets for a view of the parade. As a spectator, our job was to observe and capture moments of the event with our cameras. At first I was hesitant to get up in the role player’s faces to snap photos. However, soon I realized that the role players are here to put on a show and I forgot about the normal boundaries of photo taking. At times I would look around at the other spectators and realize that so many different expressions and reactions created an overall joyful atmosphere. However, when the parade ended and we stopped at the concert, I noticed one Gypsy spectator with grief in her eyes. Possibly she was upset that the parade had ended or maybe her mind wasn’t even on the King’s parade. Seeing moments like these, makes me stop and wonder about what is going on in each of the spectators’ perspective.
The Role Player’s Point of View
At times I could tell what the role players in the parade were thinking. I noticed that they often got annoyed with the spectators and the photographers running right in front of them to snap a photo. At one point I saw a couple “servants” grab some teenage boys’ arms and throw them back into the crowd because they were getting too close to the parade. Also, they would hit the spectators with a fake sword to keep them from getting in the middle of the parade. Numerous times when I was getting too close to the role players’ faces, they would frown upon me. However, this man photographed above and I sort of became friends during the parade. I often found myself walking next to him in order to get a photo of the king and he would step out of the way to let me get the photograph. While some became frustrated with the spectators, others took pride in entertaining the crowd.