Monday, July 19, 2010

We Arrive in Prague

As we pulled into the Prague train station at 7:00 a.m., we instantly noticed two things. First, it was drizzling lightly and second, it was about 18˚C/30˚F cooler than it was in Kraków.


It was too early to check into our hotel room but we did drop off our bags, bought two one-day Metro passes and were on our way to Prague's Castle Hill.

St. Vitus Cathedral

This is my highlight on the Castle Hill, I think that it is one of the best in all of Europe.

Alfons Mucha's Stained Glass Window

Mucha is one of the Czech Republic's greatest artists and one of my favorites as well. He created this window in his patented Art Noveau style in 1931

The lives of St. Cyril and St. Methodius

They are considered to be the fathers of Slavic Christianity. St. Cyril is the monk in black holding the Bible. St. Methodius is the one baptizing the Czech man.

In the center, in red, is a young St. Wenceslas. Yes, he would become the Good King of yuletime song. That's his grandmother St. Ludmila with her arms outstretched next to him.

The end of St. Methodius

The Banka Slavie
The Official Sponsor of the Mucha Window

Great Cathedrals have skulls

and Coats-of-Arms


The Charles Bridge over the Vltava River

It is a bridge alive with art, music, vistas and people.

A little agony please

Lots of statues on the Charles Bridge

Reach and make a wish

Laurie is touching the image of St. John of Nepomuk. He was a 14th century priest to whom the queen confessed all of her sins. The king wanted to know his wife's secrets but Father John refused to break the seal of confession. He was then dutifully tortured and finally killed by being thrown over the bridge thus drowning in the Vltava River. He never did tell the king what he wanted to know.

The worn out spot is a depiction of St. John being thrown off the bridge. If you touch and make a wish, it will come true.


A Regal Statue

If you have LOTS of disposable income,
ride around Prague in one of these

The 500 year old Astronomical Clock

Old Town Hall Tower
Upper Right Parapet

Another herald blowing his horn. Unlike the one in Kraków, this one actually gets to finish his tune.

You won't find this shop
anywhere in the U.S.A.

Really, can you ever own
enough lace tablewear?

Unfortunately, this restaurant was
closed on Sunday

I like their street signs


We finally did eat at a restaurant next to the U Zlatého Tygra, our beer garden/restaurant of choice in Prague that would not open for another three hours. The food was very good and again, your dollar goes a long way in the former Eastern Bloc countries.

The National Museum

It sits at the top of historic Wenceslas Square. In 1968, the Soviets suppressed huge popular demonstrations here and in November of 1989. More than 300,000 Czechs and Slovaks converged here to claim their freedom in the Velvet Revolution.

The Velvet Revolution?

The assembled throng simply got out their keys, started to jingle them and chanted "It's time to go now!" So later in the year, free elections were held, Václav Havel was elected President and the old Communist days were over.

This is a memorial to that Revolution, it is made up of . . .

Donated Keys

Exactly 85,741 keys to be precise, that Czech citizens donated for the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

Hare Krishnas in Prague?

Ratha-Yatra Festival

There is nothing quite so stirring as a chant filled Krishna parade. Today's celebrated the very spiritual Festival of the Chariots.

Over 35 years ago, in Westwood, California, we were for a night out on the town with Larry and Trudie Stonebraker. Larry and I were approached by Krishnas who invited us to a feast. They told us that we could both eat all that we wanted and then eat some more.

Talk about knowing your target audience.

I can't believe we said no.

O.K. then, what makes Prague special to us? Lets start with the following 11 examples of the great art, architecture and vibrant colors of the Czech Republic's capital. No captions necessary.

I hoped you like their art, architecture and vibrant colors as well as we do.

Crocodile Sanwiches

Is that a culinary dare?

The Municipal House

Municipal House Art Noveau Entry

This art style is just very pleasing to my eye.

It was time to go to the hotel and officially check in but first we bought two tickets to a jazz concert featuring the singing of Olga Kovaríková-Kuthanová who also played a futuistic looking double bass fiddle.

Jazz in the Municipal House's
Art Noveau Hall

Their music was outstanding, her voice was excellent except that her English was only a step ahead of my Czech. It was a very worthwhile and soothing 70 minute concert, especially after having my wallet pickpocketed on the Metro on the way to the concert.

They worked in a group of two or three. As we reached our stop for the Municipal House, Laurie got off first but somehow they got the door to freeze ajar enough for Laurie but not for me. As a few of us tried to pull the doors apart they swooped in and took the wallet. A classic combination of planning, technique and opportunity.

Our vacaation was effectively ruined, all was lost!

Wait a second, I use Rick Steves as my travel guru. He says to always carry your valuables in a money belt between your underwear and your pants. I listened!!!

All that was in the wallet was my card with my addresses to mail postcards home to friends, my blood donator card, my Hässleholm library card, my Summer JoJo card (DAMN IT!) and a 20 Czech Krona note (worth $10.22).

Everything else of value was safe in the money belt.

It was a Sunday.

I needed a new wallet anyway.


But we may love Rick Steves more!!!


Michael Contreras said...

You did need a new wallet.

David said...

I really, really want to go to Prague, even with the pickpockets.

But explain to me again why it's supposed to be lucky to touch an image of a guy who was tortured and killed?

George said...

You MUST take this one on faith alone. How are the Dodgers doing?

David said...

Dodgers have lost five straight — swept in four games in St. Louis (which was lovely if you like heat and humidity) and lost the first game of last night's series with the Giants. Right now, they're beating the Giants 5-4, with the Dodger starter having been thrown out for hitting a Giant batter, after a Giant pitcher hit a Dodger.
I'm off for a couple of days, so I'm missing all that fun.

Job is going OK so far.