Wednesday, September 17, 2014



We'd had incredible luck with weather conditions for our entire trip, in part because we were chasing summer around the globe.  However, our first day in Prague was one of those rare rainy days. We were enough ahead of the weather that when we arrived, the first thing we did was find a department store where we could buy umbrellas.


Rainy is probably an understatement.  It was pouring and windy, and we already had a walking tour of the city scheduled, so we bundled up as much as we could, and headed out.  Our shoes got soaked, our pant legs were wet, and eventually even our umbrellas began to fail, dripping on the inside. By the time we finally dared to use our cameras outdoors, it had tapered to simply rainy, as above. 


Despite the conditions, it was a very pretty city, and our guide took us through the old and new parts of it. We saw a number of these wrought owls next to doors; our guide explained that they were a traditional way to indicate vacancies for boarders--if the owl is tipped upside down, there are no rooms left.  


Ornate and intricate moldings and door knockers were everywhere. Not only is the city beautiful on a large scale, it's beautiful in the details.


On that first rainy day we also stopped to ponder David Černý's St. Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse sculpture.


That was one of several indoor breaks our guide had for us, as well as one in a cafe to warm up--we were getting quite chilled from the driving rain.  Our guide also talked a little about the Charles Bridge, which was started on the auspicious date and time of 1357, 9, 7 at 5:31.


At some point in the day, Lana and Nicole started reminiscing about a video filmed in Prague by INXS. When we watched it back at our rooms, we were amused to see that we'd been to all of the locations in the video.  There was no saxophone player in the Jewish cemetery when we passed by, however.


The Charles Bridge is one of those places that continued to draw us back to it as we wandered around the city. Not only is it a great way for pedestrians to cross the river, but it's beautifully constructed and somehow inherently romantic.


In addition to beautiful architecture and interesting art, Prague had some of the best food we had in Central Europe.  Not to mention the beer. Oh, the beer.


In much the same way that you go to Italy for the wine, you should go to Prague for the beer. Here is a beer truck pumping beer directly into a restaurant/bar, rather than rolling in kegs or wheeling in bottles. The beer is so plentiful it practically foams in the street.


The main square features an intricate astronomical clock that draws quite a crowd for it's involved, hourly chime.  It was installed in the 1400s, and is the oldest working astronomical clock.
Moving forward six centuries, there is also the John Lennon wall, which has been painted with layers of Beatles-inspired graffiti since the early 1980's, despite attempts (under both Communism and democracy) to stifle it.


The architecture was a mix of old and new, with a quirky, Czech sense of humor


Above is one of the few concrete monoliths left from the Communist era; it really stood out.


Prague is a city with a definite personality, and as much as it is filled with history, it's got a quirky sense of artistic humor. In addition to the horse hanging upside-down we saw on our first day, the other art that everyone talks about in Prague are "The Babies."  The babies (also created by Černý) are a series of sculptures crawling up and down the Žižkov Television Tower.


In addition to the towers, you can get up close and personal with a few of Černý's babies in the park. They are super creepy and off-putting up close.


There was also a installation in the same park, a MadLib style fill-in-the-blank chalkboard.  After writing "Travel the world" Lana put a check mark in front of it.



When we finally left Prague, after several overcast but enjoyable days, we traveled out of this train station on our way onward. Our trip with our friend Nicole was winding down, but we had one more city to visit before it was over--Vienna, Austria.