We arrived in Prague at about 7am after a not so restful night on the train. We took a quick snapshot on the platform with our Canadian friends, Mark and Carol, and waved goodbye. Yet again, I found myself completely relying on Jen to get us from the train station to our hostel. She always carries the heaviest bags and leads us under roads and over the correct streets to the correct trains. The fact that she does this every time without fail, does not mean that I don’t question whether or not we are going in the right direction or if we should stop and ask for directions. She still tolerates me.
We checked into our hostel, which is right in the middle of everything. We were simply too tired to go out and start seeing everything in Prague so we took a quick nap before our excursion. Walking out into the grey and rainy day, we were confronted with overcrowded streets filled sidewalk to sidewalk with people of all ages. There are storefronts that spill their goods out onto the sidewalks, and restaurants with small tables set behind potted bushes and flowerbeds. Every street is paved in cobblestones, and every sidewalk is made of grey and black granite squares that create patterns and checker boards.
We walked across the Charles Bridge through a mass of people and local vendors selling watercolors of Prague and small groups of musicians playing 20’s swing. We had no idea where we were on the map at this point, but we knew that we wanted lunch. After lunch, we figured out the map situation and headed into the city center. Back across the bridge, we found the Astronomical clock. Every hour the clock chimes and little characters spin around in tiny windows that sit on top of the clock. Hundreds of people gathered below the clock to watch the mini show.
From here, we joined a great walking tour that took us on a winding four-hour tour of the city. I will not recount the entire tour, but I will give some highlights and interesting facts from the tour. We walked through old market squares that dated back to the 10th century. Many of the buildings and churches were from the time of King Charles during the 15th century, but many of these were rebuilt and restructured because of fires and floods. Hitler perversely preserved the Jewish quarter during WWII, because he wanted to use this area to establish museums dedicated to the extinct Jewish race.
Jen and I had our first non-traditional meal of the entire trip. We ate a huge dinner in a local Chinese restaurant, and we loved it. After dinner, we quickly ran to the hostel to grab sweaters and refresh before a concert we attended.
In the Mirror Chapel of the National Library, we attended a fantastic performance of mostly Czech composers with the addition of a Mozart and a Tchaikovsky piece. The room was covered in silver and grey frescoes of chubby angels playing in the sun. There was a silver toned organ with pipes in the back and the front of the room. All areas that were not painted were lined in grey and red marble. The room was a prime example of high baroque style architecture. The concert was a piano trio with violin and cello. The cellist was amazing and the acoustics of the room made Dvorak soar. The pieces were all so rich that it was almost too much to absorb. It was really a delightful evening.
After the concert, Jen and I walked through the streets of Prague under one umbrella that we bought in Poland. A light drizzle did nothing to dim the lights shining up on the beautiful buildings of Prague. There were fewer crowds because of the rain. After a quick bite of ice cream, Jen and I retired to our hostel room. Our new roommates were Martin and Derek. Derek is another nice Canadian, and funnily enough, he is heading out on a train to Vienna in the morning. We seem to keep heading in the same direction as Canadians this summer.