Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Liberating Day in Prague


We faced our last full day in Prague with renewed energy thanks to low humidity and moderate Summer temperatures.

It felt strange but liberating to walk around this beautiful city with neither a wallet in my pocket nor any worry about pickpockets today. I actually relished walking in crowds and almost purposely bumping into strangers daring them to take a shot at my empty back pocket!

On sober reflection though, I did realize that I lost another prize possession to the Metro thieves. The absconded with my irreplaceable four year University of Washington Huskies football schedule. DAMN THEIR EYES!!!

We chose to start the day walking down Wenceslas Square in the Nové Mesto district.

The National Museum up close

Sitting at the top of this Square, the first thing that you notice is these many light colored patchess along much of the Museum's façade. These patches are a result of Soviet bullets hitting the Museum during their crackdown against the 1968 Prague Spring uprising.

Czech masons were ordered by their communist bosses to fill the holes ASAP as they wanted the damage forgotten. The Masons showed their Czech spirit by intentionally mismatching their patches.

He looks straight down from
the National Museum and sees . . .

Wenceslas Square alive with activity

I'm loving it too in any language

Although we avoided McDonald's in Prague, we did eat at McDonald's in Berlin and Kraków for medicinal purposes.

When talking to teams over the years about two-a-days, heat related issues the topic of salt intake always came up. My answer was always the same, "Go to McDonald's and buy an order of their French fries." There's enough salt on them to last you a week.

The heat in Germany and Poland made us follow my own advice.

We did not cramp up.

Good King Wenceslas

The latest from the Prague Fashion Houses

"Wenceslas Riding an Upside-Down Horse"
by David Cerny

Cerny is known for his outlandish themes, pushing the envelope is the term I believe.

World Fruit Bar Svetozor

"Gelato anyone?"

Old Meets New Reflection

To go? Does it really say to go?

The Tyn Church

Prague's leading Hussite Church from 1415 to 1615. It is now Catholic.

Church of St. Nicholas

Originally it was Catholic, now it is Hussite and located across the Old Town Square from the Tyn Church.

I've always liked straight player trades.

I love Alfons Mucha's
Art Noveau handiwork

In the Jewish Quarter or the Josefov

A mid morning snack at the Franz Kafka Café was definitely in order. It is cool and dark at the same time with great pictures of the ghetto.

The Golem of Prague

As near as I can understand the Legend of the Golem, a rabbi created him and gave the Golem a magic belt with mystic powers to help him with his duties in the synagogue. Basically, the two of them had a dispute over power and eventually the rabbi destroyed him.

Kind of a Jewish Darth Vader thing.

Laurie was ready for the
Kafka Café's best shot

Kafka's Best Shot

Both hopeless and absurd.

The Franz Kafka Memorial Statue

St. George slaying the Dragon on the right

You have to love his consistency.

Czech sidewalk artisans hard at work

One of the many Temples in the Josefov

Kosher Food - WE DELIVER!

The Mánesuv Most Beacons

Beautiful, but real torches might be better at night.

The Metronome

This spot on the hilltop once sported a 100 foot tall statue of Josef Stalin. It was destroyed in 1962 after Stalin's crimes were exposed.

In 1991, this metronome was erected in part to send the message that for every power there is a time to go.

I'm tired too

Hip Jewish Happy Face

A stark corner in the Old Jewish Cemetery

12,000 Tombstones from 1439-1787

Since this relatively small plot of land was the only place that Jews could be buried in Prague during this 348 year period, it necessitated that the tombs be piled on top of each other.

Since Jewish Law forbids the moving of a body after burial, this plateau effect was their answer thus creating all of these crookedly placed tombstones.

Laurie being accosted and interviewed
on the Charles Bridge

This guy from New York was trying to drum up business for a performance in town tonight.

We passed.

The Charles Bridge Band

En fuego!

INTENSE washboard solo

The Prague Castle on the hill

From the Charles Bridge and
into the Little Quarter

Sewing Machine Table Lunch

We opted for a simple tribute to Jason Johnson and ordered the Margherita pizza, a solid choice I believed.

TWENTY OLIVES???

I hate olives. This restaurant is the only one in the known universe that believes that olives belong on a Margherita pizza.

20?

Our main goal in the Little Quarter was to visit the . . .

The John Lennon Wall

Lenin's ideas darkened Prague for over 40 years, while Lennon's words gave Czech's hope.

When Lennon was killed in 1980, this large wall was spontaneously covered with memorial graffiti. Every morning the police would paint over the graffiti and every night Czechs would re-graffiti the wall. Day after day this continued until the Czech Republic gained its independence in 1989.

Enjoy a few photos of this positive wall from the communist days.




What is she doing now?

Love IS all you need!

And she didn't get arrested.

Speaking of Love

This is a sweet European tradition. First write your initials and the initials of your loved one on a padlock.

Then lock it onto a bridge or seawall.

Finally, throw the key into the river or sea.

No going back now!

A face only a Mother can love

Practice, Practice, Practice

Prague Architecture Part II

Here are eight more examples of Prague's incredible architectural beauty.

Click on photo to enlarge it.








Bright colors and traditional forms

Prague also has new buildings of interest as well such as . . .

Frank Gehry's "Dancing House"

Nicknamed "Fred and Ginger," this building was erected in 1996 by the famous Canadian architect.

Beat's me, I just liked the colors

What the . . . ?

What she saw from the doorway
was enough for Laurie

U Zlatého Tygra
The Golden Tiger

Great, cheap beer in a classic, non-touristy setting that Mark Johnson told me about a couple of years ago.

Only open until 11:00 p.m.

We better get to work.

As I said, beer and mostly locals

New Friends
Yalek Ho with Gigi and Michael Danisewicz

Yalek is from San Francisco via Hong Kong and the Danisewiczs are from Milwaukee. We all sat together based on Mike's University of Wisconsin-Stout T-shirt.

The UW-Stout football coaching staff put on a coaching clinic in Hässleholm last weekend for coaches from all over Sweden. I initially asked him if he was part of their staff but no, their daughter is goes to school at UW-Stout.

It turned into a grand evening of chit-chatting and beer.

Mike was in Budapest over the weekend running in a Seniors 5,000 meter race in 100+˚F heat! It was to be his last race, capping off a 30 year running career.

Funny story. Now you must remember that in Europe if you want to use your fingers to count you simply raise a thumb, like an umpire's out call. Two is formed by raising your thumb out and your index finger up.

With this as a background, you need to understand that Michael's 5,000 meter race consists of 12 1/2 laps around a track in incredible heat. Michael badly wanted to beat an old rival of his from Greece named Phidippides in this last go around.

Because of the heat, Michael lost track of how many laps he had left in the race and asked an official who raised his index finger. Mike decided to just blister his last ever competitive lap. One problem, he didn't know about that thumb the official had sticking out to the side. HE HAD ANOTHER LAP TO GO!

He nearly died, but finished ahead of the Greek.

Tonight he continued his rehydration recovery program.

Good people.

That's our bill

The waiter just brings you the first beer automatically as you sit down and drops this simple white tally sheet. As soon as you finish your beer, another one appears instantly unless you place your coaster on top of the glass.

A new beer equals a new hash mark on your tally sheet. At the end of the night he adds the line that turns your slashes into Hs to signify that you've settled up.

It was closing time at U Zlatehó Tygra and we still hadn't eaten dinner so we ambled on down to the Old Town Square to find a restaurant.

This one looked nice

Our last dinner in Prague

We opted to eat at one of their outdoor tables to bring a close to another great vacation and a wonderful time in Prague, one of our favorite cities in Europe.

6 comments:

David said...

I didn't know you played the washboard.

George said...

Did you think I collected thimbles just for the fun of it?

Kalle said...

5000 kilometers running? Thats a quarter of the way round the equator. Problems with the Metric system there coach?

George said...

You're right as usual, make it 5,000 METERS!

Thanks, Kalle

Anonymous said...

Georgie,

Two things:

1. You really brought back great memories for Susie and I with the pictures of the Silver Pather. Thanks!

2. Your new Husky future schedule is on the way!

We are SOOOOOOO jealous!!!

Mark and Susie

Mike Danisewicz said...

Hello George and Laurie. Hope things are going well for the both of you. I saw this post and had to tell you that I really enjoyed reading of our meeting last summer in Prague. To update you, my runnng days are over: surgury in Sept '10 revealed no cartiledge in my right knee. However, I am continuing with my "rehydration" efforts.
What ever happened with Jeff Donovan?? Haven't heard from him or his dad in several months.
Take care and if you travels ever take you to WI, please look Gigi and me up.
Mike