Over the Hill, Part Fifty-Eight; When Everything That Goes Wrong, Goes Right Again
We woke up with a plan for today, but there were a lot of moving parts, so a lot could go wrong and ruin it. We were going to the town of Kutná Hora, to visit the Sedlec Ossuary, which was about an hour away from Prague. The problem for us was that the trains to and from Kutna Hora were not very conducive to the very few trains that were going to Berlin during the day. We didn’t know how long the Ossuary would take, so it was impossible to know which train we’d be able to get back to Prague. So while we were pretty sure that everything would be okay, it was still stressful, as both me and Alex naturally gravitate towards all the things that could go wrong (yay anxiety).
To stop any possible wasting of precious time, we decided to stump up some cash and put our luggage in lockers at the train station, so that if the train was running late, at least we would have a chance of getting there in time. There were only a few direct trains to Kutna Hora from Prague, so we were getting a train to a town called Kolin, where there were more regional trains that stopped at Kutna Hora. After dumping our bags in the lockers we went to find out what platform the train was on, but it never appeared. We started to get nervous as the time of departure neared, and our fears were realised when the noticeboard declared that it was going to arrive fifteen minutes late; only to change that to twenty, then thirty minutes. Grrrr. There was nothing to do but wait though, and roll with the punches. Even after arriving, the train took forever to leave, so it was forty minutes after it’s scheduled departure time that it departed Prague.
We arrived at Kolin, having just missed the train to Kutna Hora, and ended up having to wait for the next train, a direct train from Prague to Kutna Hora that had left an hour after we were originally supposed to leave; meaning we could have slept in and left later, and still ended up on the same train. Sigh. This meant that a one hour trip ended up taking over two hours. As we left the small train station at Kutna Hora, we found ourselves part of a small throng who were obviously going to the exact same place as us, making a strange little procession down the main street. The walk was only fifteen minutes, less than what I expected, and when we arrived we found a quaint little church, called the Cemetery Church of All Saints, that was completely unremarkable, even with the graves that surrounded it. If we didn’t know what was here, we would have walked right past it, as there were more interesting churches everywhere; even in Kutna Hora there was a pretty, gothic church just a couple of blocks away; the Church of the Assumption.
We went around to the side, wandered down past some scaffolding, and there it was, down a set a stairs in the basement of the church; the Sedlec Ossuary, with sculptures of bones displayed proudly just past the ticket booth. We almost threw our money at the cashier because we were so excited (we didn’t of course, give me a little bit of credit), and then with tickets in hand we descended the stairs and entered a strange and different world. The purpose of this ossuary is much the same as the Capuchin Monastery in Brno; to show people that they are going to die, and that they should prepare for it, and their eventual journey to heaven. Some of the bones date to the 15th Century, but they were just stored underneath the church until 1870, when a man named Frantisek Rint was employed to put the bones in order, and took his mission a little too far. The end result was an art exhibition of the macabre, with bones in place of stone or marble. They’re used to create monuments to death, and they truly are a sight to behold.
The most impressive piece was in the centre; a massive chandelier composed of all different types of bones, including skulls. It has been recently restored, and you can see why it would be necessary, as it’s incredibly complex, with layers of detail that don’t become apparent until the third or fourth time you’ve looked at it. Other highlights were the four large mounds of bones, with tunnels to the centre guarded by skulls, and a giant crest made entirely of bones, which was incredibly detailed. Unlike the other ossuaries that we’d been to, which were more piles of bones made into a monument to those who passed, this ossuary was more of a show; the room was brightly lit with white painted walls, and didn’t have the aura of death that we’d seen previously, which actually helped to showcase the artworks, which were literally everywhere you turned; even on the arches of the roof and around the small chapel at the end.
The ossuary isn’t very large; it’s basically one big room, so after half an hour we had seen and experienced everything we could, and took our leave of this magical place. We walked back to the station, and after getting two trains back to Prague we actually ended up arriving an hour before our train to Berlin; so all that worrying had been for nothing (as per usual). With time to kill we got a final chimney cake from a rude lady just outside the station; again with ice cream, but this time it came in a cone, on the side, so we had to awkwardly eat the ice cream before chowing down on the chimney cake. Pretty sure she ripped us off on the change too. It was probably the most disappointing one we’d had, but let’s fact it; a chimney cake is a chimney cake, and we still scoffed it down. We used the last of our Czech money at the supermarket to buy some snacks for the train, and then grabbed our luggage and waited patiently for the train, which, unlike the previous train today, arrived right on time.
Our trip to Berlin was great; we were able to get seats by ourselves, so we could set ourselves up and do some blogs while enjoying the countryside as it rolled by. The hostel in Berlin was located on the East Side, and after a quick trip on the metro we found it literally just outside the train station, and checked in for our week in Berlin. We were excited to be in this incredible place, but we needed a rest first. A nice, long rest.