About a month ago Mike headed to India, Prague, and Amsterdam for work. He was gone a full two weeks. Sorry it's taken so long to update this, but I kept forgetting to check where he'd filed his pictures. Last night was the first time I'd gone through them with him.
First up was India. He was in Bangalore (I believe, also known as Bangaluru). This was where he spent the majority of his trip - a full week here.
This was the lobby of his hotel:
It was completely open to the outside and he said this place was very nice. He was a little nervous about the food in India and how his stomach would handle it after hearing so many awful stories before leaving. He did okay though. He said the hotel had an awesome breakfast that filled him up. They did have dinners and lunches out - they even went to an Italian restaurant!
He was amazed by the cows. Everywhere there were cows: in the middle of the street (as seen above) and even in really nice shopping areas there would be a cow standing outside the store window eating through the garbage. He talked to one of his co-workers there and they explained that surrounding the city was a lot of farms and the farmers just released their cows in the morning to go find food. Every evening the cows just wandered back to their farms without being herded.
This was also a common sight in India. Because India is 12 1/2 hours ahead it was so easy to Skype. We were able to catch up before the kids left for school (the end of Mike's day) and often times before the kids headed to bed (the beginning of Mike's next day). Once he was in Prague and Amsterdam (and only 7 hours ahead) this became much more difficult and we probably one talked to him once or twice the remaining days.
And that's the tour of India. Impressive. He really didn't get a chance to see much because of working. They did visit a zoo and while walking around a few people came up to ask to have their picture taken with him. He has no idea why and no one could explain it, but somewhere in India a few random families have pictures with Mike.
On to Prague. He was able to see a bit more here because he arranged to be there for the weekend.
He was able to see the Prague Astronomical Clock. This clock was built around 1410 and shows the movements of the sun, moon, and zodiac.
Mike was also able to visit a few churches. The one that garnered the most picture taking was the Ossuary Chapel in Sedlec - or the "Church of Bones".
According to his tour and some information I was able to look up, this church was a much sought after place to be buried. Then there was a massive plague and the church was overwhelmed with bodies. The monks started placing the remains in the church. Years later (around 1870), the family that owned the area commissioned a local carpenter/artist to do something to get a handle on the bone situation. So he did - and decorated the church with them - roughly 40,000 skeletons.
40,000 bodies - and do you want to know what creeped Mike out the most?
In the picture above you'll see these little baby angels looking down from the column tops. He tried to tell me these were especially scary - and he's completely serious.
This skeleton chandelier above supposedly contains every bone from the human body.
There are a couple "bone bells" and I think this is one of them:
Mike thinks that it was a pile of bones in the middle of the church (I think differently because it's an exact picture of a couple different sites on the Internet that explain them). Anyway - he did say that where there would normally be pews in a church, there were just piles of bones. There was no where for anyone to sit for a church service - not that there are church services, but it would be standing room only if there were.
Above is the coat of arms for the family that commissioned the artist. Down in the lower right corner of the sculpture you'll see a raven picking out the eye of a skull - apparently a real part of the coat of arms. Still...all made of bones.
But, Mike still maintains that the baby angels were the creepy part.
Now, not that this church wasn't odd enough, but while Mike and his group were standing in one alcove a man and woman came in. They apologized to Mike's group for what they were about to do and went on to explain that for the past 10 years whenever they have been in a "famous" landmark they stripped down and took a picture of themselves. Seriously. And then they started taking off their clothes really fast so they wouldn't get caught by the people in charge. Mike just left the room; very happy no pictures exist of this.
He did visit a few other churches, though he can't remember the names of them. Decidedly less disturbing, but still some odd factors.
Impressive organ! He only took this because he thought I'd find it interesting (which I did) and he thought it would be fun to imagine playing it someday (which it would be cool!).
He thought the design was odd because the rest of the church (the actual sanctuary part) was located off to the right; that poor organist can't see a thing!
You'll also notice a small decorative box on the bottom left. It contains this:
That is the body of a saint sent back here by the pope. Mike has no idea which saint it was and I can't look it up because he can't remember which church it was. However, there were two saints at this church in these boxes. He said there really was a body inside and the clothing interweaves with the skeleton. When you stood at the head side of the box there was a window so you could see the actual skull and then they had placed a plastic face over the front of it.
He also found the statues of men flanking the box to be eerie. Mike grew up in a Catholic church where these types of statues are prevalent. It blows my mind that he finds these figures so disturbing - especially considering they are all surrounding skeletons of mass numbers and size.
There were several beautiful windows:
(Side note: Just want to say, I'm kind of impressed with Mike's camera phone.)
Then they were off to Amsterdam. He was here for about two-three days.
He did manage to tour the Heineken factory. Priorities.
This (along with two other beer pictures) were what exists from Amsterdam:
This was a beer sampling at one of their dinners.
He went on a tour one night with a group of co-workers. They did visit the Red Light District though no pictures exist because that's really frowned upon. For those that don't know, Prostitution and Marijuana are legal in Amsterdam. But don't take pictures of it.
He came home bearing many gifts which were very fun for all of us! Two weeks was a long time and we were ALL glad to see him back at home!