Prague was the first stop in an 11 day visit from our nephew and wife, Teddy and Staci. We arrived one day early and had time to stock the frig, do some washing and make tour plans.
This area of central/eastern Europe is a cauldron of past and relatively present turmoil, much of which took place in the Czech Republic. Brief historic background is important to appreciate the country’s current growth. Czechoslovakia was created after the fall of the Hapsburg Empire in 1918. Hitler’s 1938 annexation of the western borderlands of then Czechoslovakia triggered the final slide toward WWII. The country fell to a communist coup in 1948 and remained under Soviet influence. The “Prague Spring” of relaxed censorship and release of prisoners was quashed by the Soviet invasion of 1968. Finally, in 1989 the bloodless “Velvet Revolution” kicked out the communists. Today, the people of Prague seem to be very happy and have warmed to capitalism.
We chose an Airbnb in the Old Town District close to the Charles Bridge that expands over the Vltava River to the Castle District. Since there are now 4 of us we chose a large 2 bedroom flat which had been nicely refreshed for rental. The first day we walked the riverside looking at all the Baroque styled 5 story buildings that line the river and fill most of the city. We crossed the pedestrian Charles Bridge which is decorated with large copper statues, long turned greenish in color, of noblemen and gargoyles. The bridge looks medieval. We gaze up and down the river which is very wide with slow current, and just take in the ambience of the city.
Teddy and Staci arrived mid-day and after hugs and chatting we were off to explore the city. The weather is cool but dry and we take a slow walk down the river to the old town, many stops for photos and lots of chatting. Boy we have really missed our family, how blessed we are to have visits.
This town is really beautiful. It seems like each building is more ornate than the next. Every column is a statue, surprisingly most with bare breasted greek goddess'. The old town is a labyrinth of narrow streets and shops selling tourist stuff, food and fine glassware. Prague is also know for nightly chamber music. Before going out we discussed a plan and agreed to walking, talking, dinner and taking in a Mozart concert in one of the fine churches. What fun we had. Prague is also known as the Pork capitol of Europe, it seems like every few feet there are vendors selling some odd pork product. Teddy and Staci are the proud owners of 2 adorable pot-belly pigs, they eat no pork and very little meat. So with help for our guidebooks and a few wrong turns, we find a vegetarian cafeteria for dinner. We think they are impressed with the amount of good food you can get for less than $10 per person. Then off to the music. Its scheduled for only and hour, with violins, cello, bass, and coronet. it was great. Later in the trip, both did admit to us how hard it was to stay awake on their first day listening to chamber music! After the concert we tried a Prague favorite, a dough that is wrapped on a cylinder and roasted over an open fire. Then it is rolled in sugar and filled with fruit or creme. They are delicious. See some great photos.
Our second day together was action packed. We started out on a free walking tour of the old town, right after the tour started the skies opened to pouring rain. We quickly purchased rain ponchos and carried on. We took a break for lunch in a small place below the castle complex, great food. Then we caught the tram to the castle complex, but wait, we were way passed the castle and had to race down the hill and wait in a long line, in time for entry but they would not let us purchase the audio guide.
One of the top attractions is St. Vitus Cathedral. It is Easter week and the churches have short hours. Even without the audio guide the Cathedral is wonderful, with flying buttress and lots of spiny spires. Next we went to the Royal Palace, nice but not furnished, the Basilica, the Golden Lane (a Greenfield Village type attraction) and the grounds. This is a huge complex and we pushed to covered it all in a few short hours.
Frank and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get from one place to the next and returning back from the castle complex was no exception. After several attempts for a Uber we finally gave up and the 4 of us walked down to catch the local tram back to our place for an easy Mac and Cheese dinner and an early bedtime. Tomorrow, we leave for Vienna.