Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prague

20130626_130346_G12_IMG_7703

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.

20130625_110044_310HS_IMG_8711

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. 

20130626_125510_G12_IMG_7695
20130625_090313_310HS_IMG_8708

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.  

20130626_124235_G12_IMG_7677

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.

20130627_210643_7D_IMG_25987


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

20130625_093614_G12_IMG_7592

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.

20130625_092816_310HS_IMG_8709

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.



20130625_191149_310HS_IMG_8725

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.

20130625_191723_310HS_IMG_8728
20130628_080203_7D_IMG_26030
20130628_080238_G12_IMG_778120130628_080226_7D_IMG_26032
20130628_080346_G12_IMG_778320130628_075235_7D_IMG_2600920130625_195830_G12_IMG_7609

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.

20130625_214511_G12_IMG_7630
20130628_081519_7D_IMG_26052

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.


20130626_144424_G12_IMG_7707

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.

20130626_124659_G12_IMG_768620130627_191308_7D_IMG_25975
20130627_205827_7D_IMG_25979

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

20130627_211016_7D_IMG_25990
20130627_211220_7D_IMG_25992
20130628_074150_7D_IMG_26003

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

20130628_075608_G12_IMG_7777
20130628_105743_7D_IMG_26097
20130628_110906_7D_IMG_26106
20130628_111238_7D_IMG_26108
20130628_112014_7D_IMG_26110
20130628_112032_7D_IMG_26111

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.

20130628_084740_7D_IMG_26059

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.

20130628_084744_7D_IMG_26060

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.

20130628_085012_7D_IMG_26063


20130628_192656_310HS_IMG_8755

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.

20130628_084549_G12_IMG_7792