Prague – home of Checks, Jews and Crowns…

What a magnificent city Prague is!  Still full of old buildings (Alby reckons I would have a ball here with my new Honda gurney) but the people are rather alive and vibrant.  Makes the folks in Vienna seem even more like proper snobs now.

The museum at the top of the old town – closed for renos.

After hours on the train, in need of a snack at 3.00pm and an Aperol Spritz. They are very addictive and cooling in summer.  I’m starting to think I need them for mediconal purposes…

Everyone here speaks English pretty much, are very friendly and helpful and will do anything for a quid or chrones.   We arrived at the train station this morning on our way to Innsbruck and then over the mountains into Italy, and a little man appeared while we were looking for our platform. ‘I take you’ he says.  I thought a tip of 200crowns would be OK, but he said – No $300 – but didn’t mind, he hucked mine and Ella’s suitcase up a huge flight of stairs together, strong little fella.  So any tip was well spent.

A relatively poor country we are thinking judging by the way they dress and work.  A lot of street people too drinking wine from softdrink bottles (sounds familiar).  One dood, looked like it was wacked off his chops and I was keeping an eye on him, but in the meantime nearly stomped his pet white RAT. 
A lot to see as a tourist and interesting history and a fantastic buzz to the city. 

They even dance in the street for no reason.  There was a very loud concert down the street, but still, was nice to see happy people dancing.  We have seen a few now.  In Shanghai, could hear some classical kind of music and followed it down the street to see a whole bunch of Chinese doing ballroom dancing in the street.  Fantastic atmosphere it adds…

We caught the tram to the old Palace and had a prowl around there for a few hours.  We stopped for coffee half way up as a little café was hanging off the side of the castle steps. Nice view of the old town on the other side of Charles Bridge.  

At the Palace, there were thousands of school excursions and tour groups plus an ugly bridge and groom getting photos taken.  First ugly one I have ever seen. Too many botox friends, me thinks… I thought I was being uncharitable and wanted to give myself a slap, but Alby went off his chops when out of earshot.  Not to mention Poss’s comments. 

Follow the ‘pink flower,’ says Alby.  We have decided that no matter how old and decrepit we get, never will we do an organised bus tour with a guide that is with you every step of the way.  They are like ants.  The Chinese are the worst.  
Mind you, there are some tour groups that are normal and don’t do the ‘follow the pink’ thing.

Was in the loo the other day in Munich and before I could even get out of the cubicle about 50 Chinese were rushing in to get peed.  Alby and Ella were outside and killing themselves laughing as they knew was I being squashed inside and I was. All yabbering at a 100 miles an hour.  You think I talk fast. Bloody Chinese….

Crown jewels – just like the ones I have at home..

Anyway, the castle has had a chequered history with being burnt down a few times and rebuilt in different styles.  One fire burnt all the early records of who owned what houses etc. but they managed to save the records that had all the fines owed by folks.  Not sure what happened with the property stuff after that. 

St Silas church was amazing.  The stained glass is so vibrant in colour, the silver statues amazing and Ella freaked at the amount of dead people you walk on beneath the concrete floors.

Huge high ceilings with ornate paintings all over them. Mind you, alot of them are the same, but then again, none had statues made of pure silver. 

The houses are on the left – blue and red – very small houses.

Then we found the Golden Lane where the workers of the castle lived.  Very small people back then, no king size beds for you.  Amazing to see how they lived. Such simplicity – no Meile appliances in stainless steel here… 

Upstairs was all the armour and artillery stuff they used.  The silver amour also there – looked very heavy and the odd one had little willie protectors as well – much to Alby’s delight.  

They actually used those hammer things and balls with spikes on the end of sticks things to beat the crap out of each other as well – I always thought that was just in the movies.  

Had neat windows which were larger on the inside and have timber stumps that moved so you could see about 6 inches of view outside.  Hard for arrows to get through I am thinking.

The torture chamber was something else.  A chair with big spikes on every surface.  A cage suspended about 3 metres above the ground, complete with skeleton in it.  Then a chopping block with a massive axe and a bucket in front of it, s’pose that is where your head would have fallen when decapitated.  Cruel buggas in the old days.

Anyone with a crook neck would get a good stretching on the rack thing at the back!!!

We then took Deed’s advice and walked down the hill to Charles Bridge through lots of little back streets.  Found some great little shops and galleries away from the main tourist drag.  Found a handmade marionette puppet, but was timber and rather expensive.  Alby said it was freaky, but I loved it.
So just on the bridge there was a cute little shop with interesting ceramics in it.  So of course a rabbit is on its way with us as I write – his name will be ‘Prague’ when he gets home safe and sound.  There were fantastic lamps made of clay with big ugly faces on them.  But the cost of postage alone was $2000 as they were over 50kls.  So they stayed in Prague, but perhaps a piece of hebel stone under our house might materialise into one like them.
Just passing through some beautiful countryside.  Big open fields and nice little hamlets it seems.  We are still in Chech country.  Lots of pine trees as well. Just passed a field full of solar panels.  There have been a few of them along the way.  Apparently, they still work in Winter even covered in snow – go figure… 

The Jewish community in Prague was very strong and we walked for miles and found the Jewish cemetery where they have laid thousands of them in a small area – some graves have up to 12 layers of bodies.  The tombstones are all stacked on top of each other and look rather eerie. But hard to photograph to give the true depth of what was happening.

You must think I have a thing for cemeteries, but they just give an insight into so much history.

Before you get to the cemetery, you go through the museum part and all the names of over 92,000 people are inscribed on the walls.  Whole families names are there which is very sad.  The names are only about 2cm high and take up every wall in the church – couldn’t bring myself to take a photo even if you could.  Would have been too disrespectful to all of them who lost their lives – and for what.  Was just incredible and had a very sad ambiance.

Then after the cemetery there is another museum and a neat little church that tells the story of how people were buried.  Quite fascinating to read about the Jews as I have never really got my head around what they are about.  Very caring people that collect money for the wife and kids if husband dies etc.  A lot of rituals and interesting reading. There apparently is still a very strong jewish community in Prague, but a little more underground now someone told us.

We wandered through the back streets which was so much better than the main drag with massive designer stores.  They are all there, Louis Vitton, Dior, Chanel and the Chinese are the ones with most of their bags.  Alby now has a MAN BAG (certainly not designer) – makes my life so much easier as I normally had the camera, his glasses etc, etc. I doubt he will use it at home unless he gets very attached to it here – but don’t think so. 

Had some great meals in funny little dinghie restaurants and lots of wine.  Met some interesting folks.  One set of Americans which were from CALIFORNIIIIAAAA…. We each get a turn at choosing a restaurant.  Mine was lunch so I had a nice salad and Alby had coleslaw and crumbed chicken.  All very nice with fresh pear juice. There were old sleds on the ceiling and lots of old shit hanging around, so was nice to see that stuff too.  Ella, chose dinner and it was a flash place on the town square with Aperol Spritzers and baked goat cheese and soup for me.  Love the Aperol Spritzers, especially with champers…
Outside a massage place was a life size Shrek character in fluorescent green.  He was attracting people to the massage place that also had little fish, kara ruta (doctor fish) in tanks.  They wash your feet and then you put them in the tanks and the fish eat all the dead skin.  A really weird feeling but they work.  They are like little piranhas.  Then Alby and I had foot massages while Ella took my credit card for a spin through the shops.  Not too much damage as everything is very cheap. They even have Marks and Spencer from the UK.  Found some great English cheese in little tiny packets that I loved when over there. 

Took the obligatory horse and cart ride.  We thought there might have been something we had missed, but think we found most of the sights.  The communist museum, the only thing we didn’t get to. We also discussed going to Chesley Krumlov but it has been very wet here and apparently a lot of water still in that area.  So have decided to leave that until next time. 

I am sure we will be back in Prague at some stage.  Just a great city.

The shopping is fantastic and cheap. The folks are friendly and the culture is amazing. 

The flowers in Prague have all been out and looking spectacular.  Big mass plantings of one colour at a time. Berry Pretty…

We are now off to Innsbruck – I just love Innsbruck.  Have been there twice already but in summer will be nice again. 

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