Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prague - How I Love Thee!

Since my birthday is this month, I got to choose the family trip we would take. I decided a 2 day trip to Prague would be great. I've heard amazing things about the city and read about the sights but nothing prepared for me for how wonderful Prague is and how much I would love every part of it. We got up bright and early on Sunday morning and drove the 3 hour trip, arriving around noon. After finding and checking in the hotel, we headed out to find some lunch and to see the sights. We ate a DELICIOUS lunch and then walked around the city for almost 7 hours. We stayed mostly in the old downtown area, seeing the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Hall and The Charles Bridge. We walked the cobblestone streets, stopping in stores and cafes along the way and at the vendor stands set up in the street. Luke got a couple wooden toys, I bought a few Russian nesting doll magnets and Brian bought me a garnet ring (Prague is known for their garnets and amber). I took tons of pictures along the way. We didn't have Luke's stroller with us but with all those cobblestone streets it probably would have been a hindrance. He did a great job walking and Brian and I took turns carrying him at times. He also enjoyed chasing pigeons and running through big groups of them begging for food. We took a couple breaks in small cafes (which had delicious lattes by the way, and crepes!) and by 7:30pm we were smoked and ready for our hotel room. On Monday the weather was lousy - rainy, cold and Luke was in an awful mood. We planned to spend the day on the Mala Strana side of town where the Prague Castle is located, along with the entire grounds which include the St Vitus Cathedral, the Old Castle Tower and the gardens. We drove up to that side of town, parked, took some pictures of the old convent, the castle and the area and then headed home. The only bummer of the trip (besides the cruddy weather on Monday) was that once we had time to unwind and look at the map of Prague and map out where we had walked, we realized that we were this close! to some sites that we wanted to see, like the John Lennon wall and the Jewish Cemetery and Synagogues. I suppose that would have added a couple more hours to our walking adventure so we'll have to hit up all those places next time, along with the castle, of course. I'll leave you with a ridiculous amount of pictures and some description of and possibly history about what you are looking at.

Information on Prague taken from Wikipedia - "Prague is is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Its official name is Hlavní město Praha, meaning Prague, the Capital City. Situated on the River Vltava in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural, and economic centre of the Czech state for over 1100 years. The city proper is home to more than 1.2 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million. Prague is widely considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with preserved examples from all periods of its history and is among the most visited cities on the continent. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. "

Driving into Prague

Luke is ready for lunch! This is the outdoor table we sat at in the middle of Wenceslaus Square for our delicious Bohemian skillet - medallions of pork and lamb along with chicken breast strips covered in thinly sliced potatoes, chunks of onion and bacon, a generous amount of cream and tons of cheese. Check out the skillet in one of the photos below!

Luke and I waiting for lunch.

There's the skillet! We all loved it and ate a ton although we couldn't finish it. :(

Luke in front of a souvenir shop
Heading into the Old Town Square. There are tons of shops along this strip and you guessed it, a Starbucks!
Astronomical Clock - This clock has been ticking since 1490. The clock tracks the zodiac, the sun, the moon, Christian holidays and the calendar. The legend behind the clock is that the Czech government was so impressed with the clock and didn't want the clock maker to ever make such a masterpiece for anyone else that they blinded him. The clock maker was so distraught over being blinded that he threw himself into the clock gears to kill himself and simultaneously ruin the workings of the gears. This legend is supposedly false.

Old Town Square - Church of Our Lady before Tyn is in the background
Old Town Square
Close Up of the Astronomical Clock
Brian and Luke in Old Town Square
Luke LOVED this clock - see him pointing to it? After we found this clock he was on a mission to point out all the clocks he saw on our long walk.

Old Town Hall - this side of town hall is the original from 1338. The other side of the hall was blown up by the Nazi's at the end of WWII
The horses and carriages lined up throughout the Old Town ready to give passengers a nice ride through town. We almost took Luke on a carriage ride but decided to keep exploring on foot. Maybe next time.
Jan Hus Monument - Jan Hus was a religious reformer that was burned at the stake for his beliefs. The monument was erected on July 6, 1915 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his death.
Looking over the river - We walked along the river to the Charles Bridge
He's so strong. Holding up that bridge with 1 hand.
And what is that in the palm of his hand? It is Prague Castle!
Me and Luke - that is the Charles Bridge behind us - the famous bridge that crosses the Vltava River whose construction started in 1357. Taken from Wikipedia.org - "The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700." The bridge is FULL of vendors selling paintings, jewelry and other art work, along with musicians and tons of tourists making their way back and forth along the bridge. There are many stories about the bridge and people who have been tossed to their death, as was the case with John of Nepomuk, who was tossed to his death on March 20, 1393 by Wenceslaus because he refused to divulge the secrets told to him in confessional by the king's wife. Old Town side Charles Bridge Tower
The Clementium - right across the street from the Charles Bridge on the Old Town side. It is the current National Library for the Czech Republic. It started out as a monastery in the medieval period, was transformed to a Jesuit college in 1556 and then to an observatory and library in 1773.
One of the 30 statues along the Charles Bridge. The statues that we see on the bridge are replicas - the originals are in a protected museum to protect them from the elements as well as vandals.
Can't you tell he was excited to see me? :)
Brian had to get a picture of the Elisabetha statue. :)
Statue of the Crucifiction
Luke and I on the Charles Bridge - that is Old Town behind us
The Prague Castle - taken from the Charles Bridge
Mala Strana (Lesser Town) with the Prague Castle at the top of the hill
Crossing Charles Bridge
The Mala Strana side of town - where we stopped for coffee and crepes. We also were only a couple blocks away from the John Lennon Wall but didn't consult our maps so we missed it! We'll find it next time.
Luke had a great time walking and looking at all the clocks
The river
The Czech National Museum
The Loreto
A rainy and gross Monday - this is the courtyard of the castle
The castle towers on a rainy day

Luke not happy in the courtyard. And he wouldn't keep his hood on - see his wet hair? Oh well. We had a GREAT first day in Prague and we will try again sometime soon to see the historical Mala Strana side of town. And I can't wait to go back and explore even more shops for Prague treasures.


MonsterBug Blankets said...

Liz, LOVE the pics! Sounds like you guys had a great time. :) We found a dunkin doughnuts in Prague, and ate there for 2 breakfasts--it was a little different from the US, but still, doughnuts! And there is a lovely English used bookstore somewhere--their breakfasts are amazing! And it was fun to browse the books and drink the coffee. We found it on our last morning, and had we found it sooner, we would've hung out there more. We bought TONS of artwork while in Prague--such a beautiful place.

Hope your pregnancy continues to go well! :)
MonsterBug Blankets

Glaubitz Haus said...

Liz, Beautiful pics! Thanks for the historic commentaries w/Prague photos.

Since Brian could hold that castle in the palm of his hand, will he be bringing it home? :))

Pregnancy seems to really agree with you--too cute.