Europe 2012: Day 74, Prague

Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic).

Sunday, August 19, 2012 — Prague

Woke at 7:30am.   It is sunny and supposed to be in the low 90’s today.  Yeah, well, I think they are just guessing at the weather.   It was hot yesterday and it is likely to be hotter today.   Someone told me that Europe is having a heat wave — lucky me.

My DH and I stayed up late last night.   I was able to squeeze out a blog posting and he was looking at the train schedules from Prague to Rotenburg, Germany.   It does not look like it will be an easy trip.   It will be a combination of bus and trains on a tight schedule.   We hope this isn’t so, so we decide to walk to  the train station this morning to find out.

We passed this grand synagogue as we walked to the Prague train station.

The Prague Train Station (Czech Republic).

At the train station we find out that “Yes, it is so.”  The combination of bus and train schedule will be tighter than we prefer but, what can we do about it?   It is interesting how the train station runs here in Prague.  First you stand in a line to get speak to an Information Agent who tells you the numbers of your buses and trains to your desire destination.  Next, you stand in another line, give the Ticket Agent your bus and train information, and he gives you the tickets.   Strangely, this process went rather quickly.

With our tickets in hand, we head off to the Prague Castle.    We saw it back in 2002 but we don’t remember any of it.

On our way back from the Prague Train Station, we pass the Gunpowder Tower — where gunpowder was stored and used to protect the ancient city of Prague.

Next door to the Gunpowder Tower is an Art Deco hotel (Prague, Czech Republic).

Next door to the Gunpowder Tower is an Art Deco hotel (Prague, Czech Republic).

On our way to the Prague castle, we passed through the Old Town Square. Here is a pretty yellow building. Is that real stone arches and cornerstones? Nope, they are painted on to a flat surface. Real stone and stonework is just too expensive today!

Another painted building in the Old Town Square of Prague.

Passing Town Hall in the Old Town Square of Prague on the way to the Prague Castle.

Walking through the “Little Paris” District of Prague.

View of Prague Castle (Czech Republic).  We just need to cross the bridge and take the tram up the hill.   A very steep hill.

We cross the bridge to the castle side of the river.  The Prague castle is perched on the tippy-top of a very steep hill.   According to the map, the road up the hill is long and winding.   According to the guide book, the only sane way up the hill is via the tram.   We  know where to get on the tram, but we don’t know how we are suppose to pay for the ride.    We make the assumption that one can pay for a ticket once on the tram, so we hop on the tram as soon as it arrives — along with dozens of other tourists too!   The tram takes off up the hill but it is so packed, no official checked for tickets!   Well, it was only two stops so we don’t feel too bad about hopping on for free.

Here are some pictures of our day at the Prague Castle:

The courtyard of Prague Castle (Czech Republic).

The Prague Castle Ticket Office — its a popular place!  The kid on the right with the backwards cap has elbows like knives!

Our first view of the St. Vitus Cathedral
in the Prague Castle (its behind the fountain and the white building).

Ooooooooh!  We must go in!

Ahhhh!  I love arches!

The altar in the  St. Vitus’ Cathedral in the Castle Cathedral.

St. Vitus’ Cathedral is cavernous!

You can’t help but to look up!

My favorite stained glass window in the St. Vitus’ Cathedral at the Prague Castle. I love the use of color — how the center is warm and the the sides are cool and how the whole thing just glows in the sunlight! Magnificent!

The courtyard outside the   St. Vitus’ Cathedral in the Prague Castle (Czech Republic)

The back of the   St. Vitus’ Cathedral in the Prague Castle (Czech Republic).

We also went in the Vladislav Hall  in the Old Royal Palace — but no pictures were allowed.   Click on the link to see this impressive structure!

After the Old Royal Palace, we found a cool spot for lunch.   We were lucky — there are not too many cool spots in the Prague Castle.   The day was hot and I looked for all and took every opportunity for cool shade!   My DH ordered Vienna-style beef goulash, I ordered a Caesar’s Salad and a Fanta — my new favorite orange soda in the world!

Lunch time in a cool spot!

We also went to see the Lobkowicz Palace located at the east entrance to the Prague castle complex.  It is a small museum of the Lobkowicz family’s, a wealthy Czech family who lost and reclaimed their property and art collection twice – the first time was to the Nazis in WWII, the second time to the Communists.   The audio-guide was great and told us the remarkable story (click on the link to find out more).  I could not take pictures so click on the link to view some of the artwork of this palace.

In leaving the palace, we went to the Lobkowicz Bar for a tall cool glass of their home brew beer and to take more pictures of Prague from their patio.

View from the Lobkowicz bar.

After the castle, we walked down the hill and headed for the Charles Bridge.   On the way, we walked by a park where a small crowd of people were looking down an alley, laughing, and snapping pictures.  We had to check it out.

This alley is so narrow that only one person can pass through it at a time. Notice the stop-n-go light to direct the traffic! My DH thought this was a hoot! I thought it was pretty clever too!

We finally made it to the Charles Bridge.   It was packed as usual with tourists and artists.   We ask a young man to take our picture on the same spot where my DH proposed to me 10 years ago.   This is a better picture, don’t you think?

My DH and I on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic.

Around 6pm, we walk for a bit along the river but it is hot in the sun, so we stop in an air conditioned shopping center and we look for a WiFi spot – we find one!   Using TripAdvisor, we found a highly rated restaurant just across the street – Café Louvre.  This is good, because I am dragging!   This heat is really getting to me — again!  Maybe it is not that it is so hot but the fact that we just spend five hours on stone walkways on top of a hill with thousands of other hot tourists — there was some serious secondary heat going on at the castle!

Interesting street art!

Café Louvre is a nice place done up in art deco style in shades of green and pink (click on the link to view the interiors — I used up all the batteries on my camera at the castle.  The dining rooms are large and spacious – but no air-conditioning.    We order our food and lots of iced water.   My DH’s pork dish with potato was very good.  But my omelet with cheese and ham was pretty dry and tasteless.  No matter, by the time we get our food, I had lost my appetite to the heat.

We were back at the hotel around 8pm.  I fall into bed hot and exhausted!   I decide to take a cold shower and I feel a little better.  My DH checks his email and financial feeds on his iPod.  We watch a bit of TV — we find channels in English!    It was a good day in that we saw the #1 tourist attraction in Prague and it was beautiful and impressive!  It was a bad day because I am very uncomfortable and I have a headache.  It is going to be a long night…

Quote of the day:   “What does he know, he sells water!”  — Irate woman tourist (American, I think) to husband regarding the entry fee for a museum at the Prague Castle. 


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