By Hunter Wolz
Today we had breakfast at the hotel and checked out and then enjoyed some free time in the beautiful city of Prague. Some students arrived two days ago and already were able to explore, but others arrived yesterday and were jet-lagged, so this gave them some time to explore. My group decided to go to Charle’s Square, where we saw the Pamanty Strom, or Memorable Tree. We then made our way to the beautiful Charles Bridge with a breathtaking view of parts of Prague. After that, we went to the Old Town Square to eat lunch and enjoy the more tourist-heavy part of the city. Other groups went to the Castle and saw the John Lennon wall. After that, the entire group met up at the hotel to go to the train station to transport to the industrial city of Ostrava.
Unlike Prague, which is the largest city in the Czech Republic (or its technical new name, Czechia – though nobody actually calls it that), Ostrava is the third largest city and is not really a tourist destination. Ostrava is the industrial heart of the Czech Republic which has great investments and infrastructure in steel production, similar to the history of my hometown of Pittsburgh. When we rode in by train, we noticed many differences in the urban form compared to Prague. For example, the buildings were much more spread out, and the landscape was interspersed with smokestacks and other industrial buildings. Design and architectural differences were also prominent, as this area was influenced by socialist times and residential high-rises are common.
Once we checked into the beautiful and rustic Zámek Zábřeh hotel, we ate a delicious meal together at the hotel’s restaurant and began introductions, as we didn’t have ample time to do it earlier.