Prague - Tick

Aaron and I can safely say we can tick Prague off the list. We have seen almost all there is to see in Prague except one thing that we did want to see but couldn't, more on that later.

On Tuesday we decided to explore the area of Prague we were already in, Nove Mesto and which we had started to do the night before. So our first stop was the Narodni Muzuem (the National Museum). This was a pleasant change to other museums we had seen as there was little or no religious artifacts. Aaron was relieved to find this as he has developed an aversion to 'Jesus on a donkey'. This museum was full of zoological (ie stuffed dead birds and animals), palentological and mineralogical stuff from not only the Czech Republic but around the world. After 2 hours inside (our time period for museums) we came out to find the blue skies had gone and the rain had set in. This was the beginning of a few days of annoying drizzly rain that has only now just gone away (hopefully).

With umbrellas in hand we continued to wander around Nove Mesto seeing sights such as the balcony from where the death of Czech Communism was pronounced in 1989 (the building is now a Marks and Spencers store), a nice little garden called the Franciscan Garden and a Cubist lamp post dating back to 1915. After a lunch of sausages we visited the Mucha Museum about the Art Nouveau artist Alphons Mucha. I enjoyed this little museum cum art gallery very much as I quite like the art nouveau style. To Aaron though it was just another museum.

The following day we caught a tram up to the Prague Castle and wandered around up there. St Vitus's Cathedral is magnificent. It has brilliant stained glass windows, including one designed by Alphons Mucha. The Old Royal Palace was disappointing. We found it very dull compared to other places we have seen. St George's Basillica was good but the Golden Lane was our favourite. It is a street of small coloured houses (which are now shops) with a medieval museum on the top floor. It was great, lots of suits of armour, swords etc and there was also the opportunity to shoot a cross bow. Aaron had a go and found it harder than he thought it would be (he only hit the target once out of five shots). The Dalibor Tower which was a former dungeon was also great as it had a number of torture instruments.

There was also a toy museum in the castle grounds which we of course had to visit. Surprisingly this toy museum had different things to the ones we saw in Nuremberg and it did have a good assortment of teddy bears. Speaking of which I forgot to mention in my last post that the teddy bear count is now up to 6. I bought one in Fussen and another Steiff bear from a Steiff shop in Nurmeberg.

After the castle we then walked across the Charles Bridge and into the Old Town Stare Mesto where we saw the very impressive Astronomical Clock.

On Thursday we decided to explore the Jewish Quarter (Josefov) but due to it being a Jewish Holiday (not sure which one) we were not able to visit the Jewish Cemetry that we wanted to (the holiday continued on Friday and has Saturday is their sabath we missed out altogether). After visiting one of the better souvenir shops where Aaron bought me a lovely bohemian crystal necklace (in most of the souvenir shops in Wencelas Square particular, you are followed 2 steps behind you by staff and are watched like a hawke) we crossed one of Prague's many bridges and went to Mala Strana (the Little Quarter). It was raining quite a bit so we just looked at a few of the lovely buildings and parks and went back to the hotel to rest.

On Friday we ventured out of Prague on a bus tour to Kutna Hora, a town about 60 minutes drive away that was important for silver mining. Our first stop of the tour was at the Church of All Saints, an ossuary that has chandeliers and things made up of the bones of 30 000 people. It was very cool and something that I had really wanted to see. For some reason I love ossuary's. This is the third one I have been to now. We then went for a walk around the town with a guide filling us in on some great history. Lunch was at a great restaurant where I have had the best dumplings I have ever had. The beef goulash was great too. Then we visited the Cathedral of St Barbara (one of only 4 cathedrals in the Czech Republic) which had really nice fresco's on the walls. It was also nice that the rain had stopped and there was some blue sky so that we could appreciate the painted glass windows of the cathedral. It was then time to head back to Prague along some of the most bumpiest roads I have ever been on. Sydney roads are nothing compared to these.

And now it is today and we went back to the Little Quarter where we caught the Funicular Railway up to the top of Petrin Park to visit the Observation Tower which is an imitation of the Eiffel Tower but at a quarter of its height. I decided not to climb to the top but Aaron did. It said it was quite windy up there so I am glad I didn't. Today we again encountered the Czechs dislike for large notes when trying to buy Aaron's ticket for the tower and so that I could visit the toilet. One thing I am getting sick of is having to pay to go to the toilet. I must admit though that this restroom attendant actually did something while I was there unlike other places I have been to where they just sit behind a counter reading a magazine or whatever.

So now the blog is up to date. We are off to Salzburg tomorrow which will take us over 7 hours. Hopefully the trains won't be crowded.

Finally, my impressions of Prague. The buildings are lovely, there is lots of churches, but there is an ugly side to the place as well. It is very touristy, so many souvenir shops and money changing places. We have encountered some friendly locals but most of them seem very grumpy, (particularly in long supermarket queues). We have also had to develop great patience in queueing as we have had to do it so often.

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