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Phil & Carol on the Danube: Prague’s Highlights

This morning we got up at about 7:30 (that would be 1:30 am Eastern Time!) and had a good breakfast at the Hilton. Then it was time to hit the city. But first we had a small surprise. There were all kinds of security in front of our hotel when we were about to leave and we got out front just in time to see the arrival of the presidents of the Czech Republic and Portugal (see picture). It seems they were scheduled to hold meetings today at the Hilton. OK, so NOW we are off to see the city.

We started with the Castle District. This is across the river and up the hill on the other side. We entered through the Castle Gates into one of three courtyards and saw such places as St. Vitus’s Cathedral, which was commissioned in 1344. The Cathedral was closed to the public today for a special service commemorating the murder of over 9000 polish militants under Stalin’s orders. This special service was conducted by the resident archbishop.

The archbishop’s house (see picture) is located right on the castle grounds. It was quite windy high on this hill and we were all glad to have our jackets along (just observe the picture of Mike and Nancy Sheridan on Castle Hill overlooking the city).

After spending some time exploring the Castle District, we started down into the Lesser District. Along the way were many very interesting old houses–every one decorated differently. We soon learned that in years gone by (or should I say centuries), the location of one’s home was by description. So maybe the Jones live in the “Flying Fish” house while the Smiths live in the “White Swan” house. An example is the yellow house pictured here. It is the “House of the Golden Suns”, and if you look closely you will see above the doorway a painting of two golden suns.

Also in the Lesser District, Carol came across a rare find:  an old 1970’s police car from the communist times. These are no longer in use, of course. This is an example of an old Russian-made “lada” (the people used to joke “Yeah, they are a “lada” junk).

When we came to the river, we crossed by way of the Charles Bridge. This is by far the most famous bridge in the city, built in the 14th century, during the reign of Charles IV. This is a pedestrian bridge and as you stroll across, you can take time to admire the thirty statues and purchase items from the many street vendors along the way. (Yes, Carol did find a necklace and earrings she liked, and at a very good price).

Upon exiting the bridge, we were then in Old Town. This is really the “heart” of Prague, with many old churches and pedestrian streets full of tiny, very original shops selling all kinds of hand crafted goodies.

While walking through Old Town, we were invited to no less than six different classical concerts for this evening. This was not a special evening… that’s the way it is every night in Prague. We did some shopping and settled on some fine Bohemian lead crystal glasses.

It’s now about 6 pm and in a little while we will be off to a folklore dinner show. It’s at a local restaurant and features Czech food, song and dance. So… we’ll let you know about that tomorrow. See you then!

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