19.09.2017 - 22.09.2017 66 °F
We left Krakow mid-morning and boarded the train for the 7 hour ride to Prague. This train had compartments which we love. It was a rainy day so a good travel day for sure. Shai has become quite proficient at sleeping on the train and for these longer rides we make a trip to the bathroom along the way. We arrived in Prague about 5:30 and walked to our hotel - about 5 minutes. We got settled in, had dinner and called it a day.
Day two in Prague was a "taking care of business" day. Laundry & hair. I had researched ahead and made an appointment at a salon to get my hair done. While there we decided Ray needed a little sprucing up too!
The finished products
Clean & primped we chilled before heading to dinner. Dinner was at a traditional Czech restaurant, BREDOVSKÝ DVŮR, in a very cool building with brick vaulted ceilings and copper tanks of beer. We shared a starter with Hot sausages on dark beer with vegetables and onions, the main was these amazing ribs - Roast pork ribs barbecue sauce plum and chilli, piquant slaw, all washed down with a bottle of Czech Sauvignon Blanc. I must apologize again...dove into the food before taking pics! It was delish!
Day Three - A Private Tour With Jason
I had read about a Brit ex-pat who was living in Prague that gives excellent tours so I booked for today - it ended up that we were the only booking for then so we were treated to a private tour. We met up with Jason at the Old Town Square to begin our tour "Hidden Prague". There were several important places on the square -
Church of Our Lady before Týn - 14th century gothic church - the entrance is a narrow alley between restaurants - the church could not afford to buy the lot on the square
Monument to Jan Hus - read more here
We then came to this simple plaque of Jan Palach and were told the story of this young man. He was a student who in January 1969 set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square in protest of the 1968 Communist invasion to crush the liberal reforms of then Czech leader Alexander Dubček. This act and his death set off events which led to the fall of communism 10 months later.
We then headed into the old Jewish Ghetto - it is home to several synagogues including the oldest active one in Europe - The Old New Synagogue which opened in 1270
The Old/New Synagogue
The High Synagogue - 16th Century
The Klausen Synagogue - 16th Century
The Spanish Synagogue - 19th Century
The Old Jewish Cemetery is the third oldest in Europe and contains countless thousands of remains. The Jewish community was not permitted to purchase additional land to expand the cemetery so the would add a layer of dirt and stack new burials on top. There are 12,000 visible headstones - some are for people who may be several layers deep - there are as many as 12 layers of burials in some places. The oldest visible stone is dated 1439 for a rabbi. There are estimates of 50,000 to 100,000 people buried here.
This is the top of the cemetery
This is the street level - you can see the grass at the top where the headstones are.
Jason took us through several courtyards and alleys we'd have never seen on our own for sure.
This statue was selected to pay hommage to Franz Kafka and was placed across the street from where he lived in Prague. The sculptor, Jaroslav Rona , was inspired by a brief passage in Kafka's short story "Description of a Struggle":
"And now - with a flourish, as though it were not the first time - I leapt onto the shoulders of my acquaintance, and by digging my fists into his back I urged him into a trot. But since he stumped forward rather reluctantly and sometimes even stopped, I kicked him in the belly several times with my boots, to make him more lively. It worked and we came fast enough into the interior of a vast but as yet unfinished landscape."
We then stopped at these 4 medallions placed in the sidewalk. There are similar medallions around the city - they are placed in front of homes and mark the Jewish people who were taken from the home, their birth years, when and where they were taken - in this case all went to Terezina - a camp in the Czech Repubilc, then when & where they were murdered "zavrazden". The Nazis kept meticulous records making this possible.
We ended up back in the main square in front of the astronomical clock - installed in 1410 - it is the third oldest in the world
The Old Town Hall was destroyed by fire during the Prague Uprising in 1945 - the clock tower still remains
Before the fire
After the fire
The Clock Tower's Astronomical Clock
Jason is a wonderful and knowledgeable tour guide - I highly recommend him - Living Prague
After the tour it was definitely time for a beverage - we stayed in the square to people watch and have a snack.
Dinner that night was on "boat" (more like a permanent dock) on the Vltava River with gorgeous views of the castle. It was Italian and a nice change from the previous meat heavy night before. We met a cute couple from Chicago who were on their honeymoon.
Our last day in Prague we just wandered the city, went to Wenceslas Square, walked across the Charles Bridge and had wine in the cafe we went to in 2013. We ended up back at Meat & Greet Burger for dinner. We had dinner there our first night and the burgers were worthy of a repeat! We had no reservation (yes - a common requirement here) so we ended up sitting out side even though it was a little chilly - they had blankets so we were actually comfortable. They did end up with a table inside after a while so we moved inside to eat.
The view from our room
Shai & her window
Wine & snack stop
Back in the Main Square
Approaching the Charles Bridge
The Vltava River
Back at Meat & Greet Burger!
Tomorrow - off to the Alps!!!