Sluggish and Luggageless in Splague !

Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
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Trip End Sep 23, 2010


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

G'Day! 

OK!  We arrived in Prague and waited for our luggage that never arrived.  We really believed this day would never come.  After 22 years of travelling, our streak of never losing luggage has come to an end!  Crap!  We were told the luggage would be delivered to our hotel within 24 hrs.  However, this didn't alleviate our anxiety.  Arriving at a destination without our luggage is new territory for us!  We were worried!  But, with no other options, we lodged our lost luggage complaint at the Czech Airlines desk.  With nothing more than a copy of our complaint in hand, we left the desk.   

Upon leaving the secured area of the Prague airport, we entered the public area where we met our taxi driver waiting patiently.  He must've waited an extra 40 minutes.  At least we had something waiting for us.  This taxi service was something I arranged with the hotel the morning we left home.  Given our circumstances, sleep deprived and without luggage, I'm sure glad I arranged this service.  The taxi took us directly to our hotel, Archibald At The Charles Bridge. 

The drive from the airport through Prague to our hotel was an eye opener.  If first impressions amounted to anything, then Prague appeared to be a very unique city.  It's often referred to as the City of Spires!  We could see why!  Although Venice was unique, Prague was also unique in it's own way!

Upon checking into the hotel, Archibald at the Charles Bridge, we were given a couple room options.  A smaller room on the 3rd floor and and larger room on the first floor.  We opted for the first floor which also had a nice view of the Charles Bridge, the Vitava River and weir.  We opened the windows of our room and let the sun and fresh air come in.  The sounds along the riverbank made the whole scene appear sereal.  The temperature was a comfortable 16 - 18 Celcius. 

Although we didn't have our luggage, we were still sleep deprived.  It was clear, if we were going to get through this day, we needed 2-3 hours sleep to rejuvenate.  The lack of sleep eventually won over the worry of missing luggage, which allowed us to get a few hours sleep before venturing out onto the streets of Prague.  

Before venturing out in mid-afternoon, the front desk staff of our hotel was very helpful in pointing us to the nearest ATM (since the Czech Republic currency was not the Euro), as we needed to get some Czech currency. 

After leaving the hotel, we walked to the Charles Bridge within a few minutes.  Imagine, the Charles Bridge!  The bridge was a buzz of activity with people walking with a sense of purpose (probably locals), tourists slowly taking in the experience, vendors selling their merchandise along the bridge, etc.  We remained on the same side of the river and soon found ourselves walking under the bridge tower.  This tower was smaller than the one on the other side of the bridge.  This bridge tower, a romanesque one, and relic of the Judita's Bridge, was constructed in the 12th century.  It was very impressive!

We soon found the bank we were looking for and once we calculated the currency exchange, we got some local Czech currency.  With the Prague Castle stairing at us from above, we continued in the same direction, up to the castle.  Within minutes of walking, we came upon St. Nicholas Church whose robust dome and thin bell-tower are an inseparable part of the Prague Castle skyline.  Located in Lesser Town, it's among the leading baroque constructions in Europe and is usually defined as being the most beautiful building of Czech baroque. It was built at a time when Prague was in the process of undergoing prominent changes, when during the second half of the 17th century the existing Renaissance style was replaced by Baroque.   

Continuing our walk up to the Prague Castle was like walking on a treadmill with a constant 6% incline.  Not that we noticed because our pace was slow.  We were impressed by the architecture around us.  The streets were lined with restaurants, souvenier shops and retail stores.  The most interesting store was the one selling marijuana ice cream!  If I wasn't already dopey from the lack of sleep, I may have considered a scoop.  Probably not!     

For us, the walk up to the Prague Castle was like walking up to the Wizard of Oz!  Among locals, the Prague Castle is an ancient symbol of the Czech lands and the most significant Czech monument and important cultural institution in the Czech Republic.  This was also the location where US President Obama met with the Czech president on April 9th of this year.      

History indicates the Prague Castle was most likely founded in around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci). The early medieval castle site was fortified with a moat and a rampart of clay and stones. The first walled building was the Church of Virgin Mary. Other churches, dedicated to St. George and St. Vitus, were founded in the first half of the 10th century.

From the 10th century Prague Castle was not only the seat of the head of state, the princes and later kings, but also of the highest representative of church, the Prague bishop. The first convent in Bohemia was also founded in the grounds of Prague Castle, a convent next to the church of St. George for the order of Benedictine nuns.

The Prague Castle is apparently the largest coherent castle complex in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications in the 14th century.

Today, Prague Castle, besides the seat of the head of state, is an important cultural and historical monument. The crown jewels are kept in Prague Castle, as are the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents. Events important for the whole country have taken place within its walls. Hence Prague Castle is the embodiment of the historical tradition of the Czech state, linking the present with the past.  It's location makes it a prominent symbol of Prague. 

The walk down from the castle offered beautiful views of Prague with every glance.  It made us feel guilty by looking away.  We found an inner city vineyard where we enjoyed a glass of local Czech wine.   The walk down to our hotel was slow, in contrast to the quick pace of local citizens who were obviously returning home during their rush hour.   We noticed that trams were a significant part of Prague's local public transit system.  Returning to our hotel, it appeared we did a full circle up and around the Prague Castle.  

As the day was coming to an end, it felt like we were touring Prague for the whole day although in reality, it was only a few hours.  Tonight, given our state of jet lag, we chose to eat dinner at the restaurant adjacent to our hotel.   

Hopefully, tomorrow, we'll awake with our luggage returned to our hotel.  But in the meantime, we'll worry until it arrives at our doorstep. 

Cheers, Rick & Elsie! 


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