Prague – Part 7

In brief (I know, too late); I have seen the Dancing House, built on the site where a house was destroyed by a U.S. bomber in 1945. It’s controversial owing to how vastly different it is in design from the rest of Prague.

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I have stood in Wenceslas Square, and felt the gravity of the space where the Patron Saint of Prague watched silently as the Soviet tanks invaded. Jan Palach and Jan Zajic were not so quiet.

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We came across the Kafka monument one night while leaving a restaurant, and though we didn’t have time to go and see the Kafka Museum on this trip, I’d like to read some more of his work and then go and see it on our next visit.

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On our final day the sun finally shone through, and I was able to take even more photographs of the castle, this time drenched in sunlight.

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The rest of Prague also looked much nicer in daylight as opposed to the flat overcast sky we’d had the rest of the week.

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I was finally able to get photos of some of the remarkable statues on the Charles Bridge that I liked.

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I love watching how people interacted with the statues.

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We walked up the top of Praha 7 to go to the Technical Museum, only to discover that it isn’t open on Mondays. But there were some amazing views to be had from up there.

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The bridges that connect each side of the river stretch off into the distance.

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It was a remarkable holiday, and one of those rare ones which changes your entire outlook of the world. There are some things which you just can’t fathom living in Australia. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to live in a country that was occupied by the Nazis. It is hard to concept what it must have been like to live in a country that was subsequently invaded by Communism.

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The Czech Republic has come so far since the Velvet Revolution, and achieved so much.

And I am grateful everyday for the life that is mine.

Prague – Part 6

In which our unlikely heroes walk up a hill to Prague Castle! (again)

So much to see, so little time! We spent an entire day up on the castle grounds. I was also glad it was the “off-season” and we didn’t have to fight our way through crowds to see everything!

Owing to the need to buy a licence to take indoor photos in some buildings, which we opted not to purchase, you’ll get the edited version of the tour.

We were also glad that we’d seen St Vitus Cathedral earlier in the week, as it was closed for maintenance the day we went back!

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Thank goodness nothing else was closed that day, and all other maintenance was scheduled for later in the week! Though, from outside St V, the organ sounded like it was working just fine!

The Basilica of St George was founded by Prince Vratislav I. at the beginning of the 10th Century.

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It became a burial ground for the princes of the house on Premyslid. Look, here’s one now … (under the tabletop)

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This was church number six.

Then it was on to the Golden Lane. Along with everything else we’d already seen, this was a wonderful insight into how these buildings have been used through the various phases of history.

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Initially built in the 16th Century to house the castle sharpshooters and later used to house castle goldsmiths (a possible source of the name), staff and guards, at one point is also housed the castle alchemists (also a possible source of the name). The last inhabitant only moved out in 1952.

Upstairs was the most amazing armoury I’ve ever seen! (No, I haven’t seen that many yet, but I’m working on it.) We may have spent cash in this particular gift shop …

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We were out the bottom of the castle now, and it was cold, so we had a brief break to sample a traditional cinnamon pastry made right in front of us while we waited! So worth it too!

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The view from up here was remarkably good too! 😉

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Because I love you all and hear your requests, here’s a photo of Me and Himself. See how much I love you!?

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We were nearing the end of this particular adventure, and as we sat down over dinner, Beer goulash in bread (I need to perfect this recipe!) …

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… we took the time to point out to all my wonderful readers what some of our favourite sites were!

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All these things and more coming your way shortly!

Prague – Part 5

In which we went on a Day Trip.

Kutna Hora. Just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? I have wanted to go to Kutna Hora for years. Ever since I learned that there existed in the world …

The Sedlec Ossuary!

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Impressive, no?

Check this out!

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The story goes that in 1278 an abbot of the monastery was sent off to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage and returned with soil from Golgotha, which was spread around the churchyard, making it THE PLACE to be buried in central Europe.

What with the Black Death in the 14th Century, and the Hussite Wars in the 15th Century, the churchyard had to be radically expanded to accommodate all the new business.

When they were still running out of room, they made the eminently sensible decision to exhume all the old bones (flesh decomposed away) so they could replace them with new bodies. More business!

Of course, when they began drowning in bones, they charged an old and half-blind monk to come up with a decorative way of stacking/storing them. He began with four giant pyramids. One for each corner of course!

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The chandelier in the middle has at least one of every single bone in the human body.

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The crest is of the Schwarzenberg coat of arms. (Note the buzzard pecking the eye out of the Turk in the bottom right corner.) It was put together by the woodworker who was hired by the Schwarzenberg family and he is responsible for most of the current state of the bones.

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There are a guestimated 40-70,000 people’s skeletons in that room. And I can tell you now, the room’s not all that large.

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It was a remarkably humbling experience.

But it was a tour and there was more to see! So we jumped back on the bus and we were off to see St Vitus’ Little sister Cathedral, St Barbara!

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Originally designed by the son of the man who designed St Vitus; the cathedral as it currently stands has a vault of 30m high, is 70m long, 40m wide, and is quite imposing enough thank you very much! In this picture you can see the wooden statues of Christian Virtue. For those of my readers unfamiliar with those they are; Justice, Fortitude, Prudence and Temperance. The statues stand 3.5m high.

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Nope. I don’t know which one’s which either.

Everything in,

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… and about …

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… this church …

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… was just exquisite!

However, time waits for no man, and with a brief tour of the town, we were back in the van for the hour drive back to Prague!

How many churches am I up to? Was that four and five? *shrugs* Onwards!

Prague – Part 4

After a quick change of hotel (also highly recommended – the Bishops House) we made the great trek up the hill to the Castle.

All the streets in Prague look like this.

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Unless they look like this …

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… or this …

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… or this!

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And at the top, the Castle was just bustling!

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As we made our way through the front gates, and on to the grounds, we realised we’d missed being able to see the changing of the guards (every hour on the hour) by _that much!_ *holds finger and thumb together* So we watched it from inside the gates.

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Suddenly, before we knew it, we were in the inner sanctum, and there, rising up in front of us was St Vitus Cathedral!

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It is remarkably difficult to adequately express the grandeur of this epic gothic cathedral in photographs.

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But I tried anyway.

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After absorbing as much of it as we could, we headed back down the hill, vowing to return again before we left.

Tromping our little troop down the hill, we did manage to come across this twisted little stairway,

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… which promised two things. First was the promise of coffee. Second … Well, second was that within the complex which had coffee, was also housed the Alchemy Museum!

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I think Reginald and Rupert may have gotten in over their heads!

Our adventure will continue tomorrow!

Prague – Part 3

The food post. I’m going to try and do this only once, but I make no promises!

Czech food is like a lot of European food I’ve discovered so far. Quite heavy, filling, warming, and with lots of potato or bread carbs on the side. The Czechs have perfected the dumpling which is in fact a good combination of both spuds AND bread! Yay them!

The secret in finding a good place to eat is to find an alley which looks like it belongs in the Goblin City of the Labyrinth…

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… and gets narrower, and narrower …

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… and before you know it, you find yourself surrounded by locals in a room filled with ambiance!

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Be aware that smoking is not only accepted to varying degrees all over Europe, but you can still smoke inside in designated restaurants in Prague. *cough* Haven’t experienced THAT in a few years!

Though happily, not where we chose to eat the first night! *grins*

To give you an idea of local traditional dishes, here’s this handy menu! The exchange rate is about CZK100 to AUD5 or EUR4. So, remarkably inexpensive!

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a meal in Prague without beer. Our dinner companions, Rupert the Red Panda and Reginald the Meerkat, are pleased to meet you!

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We opted to eat traditionally while in Prague, as all of us feel that part of the purpose of travel is to try new things! So the first night, one of us had the Pork Knuckle …

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… there was hot wings with cheese sauce, pork tenderloin braid pierced with garlic and cheese sauce, and I went for the roast duck breast with blueberry sauce!

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I will save myself the embarrassment of showing you all the picture my wonderful friend took of what the blueberry sauce did to my teeth and tongue. Something about blowing a Smurf … *pulls a face* It was delicious and I wouldn’t have changed my menu choice for anything!

For sides, because you can’t NOT have a side dish of carbs, we have potato with blue cheese sauce and garlic!

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Most of our dining experiences were variations on this theme, often with Himself ending with a traditional apple strudel. I should really bake more apples for him in Winter. Oh well, next Winter at this point! Now I’ll try not to put more posts up about food. But you know you wanted to know!