Adventures in Prague

Trip Start Dec 31, 2011
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Trip End Jan 14, 2012


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Sunday, January 1, 2012

We got into Prague and were met at the airport by a driver from our hotel. We are staying at the Hotel Mamaison Pactuv Palace.  It is in the Old Town area, aka Stare Mesto.  It is in walking distance from just about everywhere we want to go and is near the Vlatva River. 

Our room is a gorgeous suite, and the hotel has a lot of charm.  The hotel is made of four structures – a baroque palace, two medieval houses and a neoclassical building from 1836.   Supposedly, Mozart lived here at some time.  The best part about our stay here has been the wonderful staff.  In fact, when we got to the hotel, they sent us champagne and wished us a Happy New Year.

Since we got into Prague in the late afternoon, we went straight out to sightsee.  Our first stop was the Christmas Market in Old Town Square.  There was a huge and beautiful Christmas tree, and tons of street vendors selling crafts and food.  Jason was, of course, much more experimental with the food.  He got some hot mulled wine, called svarak, and some sort of mixture of sauerkraut, ham, and potato.  It smelled about as good going in as it did coming out, but Jason liked it.  We both tried a cinnamon sugar cylindrical shaped pastry, called trdelnik that was cooked over charcoal.  It was fabulous. 

In Old Town square, we saw the famous astronomical clock which features four different characters representing vanity, death, greed and the last one was a drunk Turk.  Jen's favorite was the "greedy Jew" with his bag of money.   Seriously – check it out on Wikipedia.  We also saw a Gothic church named The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, which was built in 1461.  Other than being really pretty in pictures, there is not much to say about it.   Later, we headed to Wenceslas Square where we saw some people sitting in a store window with their feet in a pool of water being eaten by small fish.  The fish were eating the dead skin off their feet.  It was a sight to see.

That night, we had dinner at Rainer Maria Rilke, a Czech restaurant down the street from our hotel.  Jason had duck, and by that we mean the entire duck.  It was as big as his face, and he still managed to eat the entire thing.  Jen was grossed out as usual.

The next day, we got up early because we found out the night before that the sun goes down around noon.  Just kidding, it is actually 4:30 pm, but it sure felt like noon.  Our first stop was to the Charles Bridge, which was first built in the 10th century; however, it has since been restored numerous times.  We think the same architect, Peter Parker (aka Spiderman), built everything here.  Okay, that isn’t his real name, but since we can’t pronounce anything here, we make up our own names.   You should hear us pronounce the street names; they are a special treat.  From there, we headed to breakfast at a great place in our guidebook that we never found.  These old European streets are impossible to navigate.  Yes, Maggie and Lara, even impossible for Papa J.  Next, we went to the Prague Castle complex, which is a collection of structures dating from the 10th century to the 20th century.  This complex is so big that it took us from about 9 am to 4 pm to get through the whole place.  It included the Prague Castle, St. Vitus’s Cathedral (also partly built by Spiderman), the Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, the Golden Lane, and a couple of other places that we didn’t care about.  Jen’s favorite part was the Golden Lane, which is a jumbled collection of tiny, brightly colored cottages.  We think that they were the inspiration for studio apartments in New York.  Each house is smaller than our bedroom – no joke.  Prior to becoming famous, Franz Kafka lived in one of the cottages so to honor him, the street vendors decided to sell every piece of crappy merchandise known to man with his name or picture plastered all over.  Also included in our tickets was a torture museum in an old dungeon at the castle.  Make sure to check out those pictures because there is no explanation that can do those instruments justice.  That night, we ate dinner at La Finestra, which was a great Italian restaurant.  To show us that the meat and fish were fresh, they came out with huge trays of each.  It was pretty impressive.  The men’s bathroom was also quite impressive.  (See pictures.)  After dinner, we headed to a pub for pivo (beer).  The pub had some enthralling sport’s match-ups on TV.  Yes, you guessed it, the international dart championship was on! 

Day Three – The Day of the Dead.  In honor of the Jewish tour we were about to begin, we started off the day at Bohemia Bagel for breakfast.  It was a nice change from the prior breakfasts of watered-down orange juice and tasteless cereal.  Next, we headed to the Old Jewish Cemetery where 12,000 Jews had been buried since approximately the 14th century.  There were so many graves that they had to put the bodies on top of each other so they could make room.  We also went to some old Jewish synagogues where they also included a museum of the history of Prague’s Jews.  Many of them were sent to Terezin, a holding camp before sending them to places like Auchwitz and Dachau.  In one of the synagogues, every wall was filled with names of the Jews who were sent to their deaths.  It was really moving to say the least. 

That afternoon, we headed on a tour to the town of Kutna Hora, an old mining town known more today for its churches.  As we were waiting on the tiny bus to begin on our one hour journey, two Italians (who were late) decided to join us with foot-long hot dogs.  Needless to say, we were both nauseous the whole time due to the hot, bumpy bus ride that smelled like a sausage.  Oh, and how could we forget the amazing burps that followed.  We took a picture of them so that if any of you ever see them, you can punch them in the face.   For dinner that night, we went to Bellevue.  Although we were told that jeans and leggings would be appropriate, we arrived to a chandelier-lit dining room.  The meal was like “pleasure bursting in your mouth,” as colloquially stated by our waiter. 

We are now off to Cesky Krumlov, a small town in Czech Republic.  We woke up at 5:30 this morning to get to the taxi that took us to the wrong bus station.  Thankfully, we made our bus.  It wouldn’t be a trip to Europe without an unexpected travel hiccup now, would it?
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