Thursday, September 23, 2010


So, then there was Prague!
Prague was beautiful. I'd heard that before, but I was still surprised. There weren't really any areas of town that didn't have gorgeous 4-6 story gothic or renaissance-style buildings on the sides of the comfortably wide streets. (Well, there was the one sketch dark alley way that Kathy led us down, but we'll overlook that moment.) It was, however, amazing that there were no crazy tiny streets, all were plenty wide enough for pedestrians and traffic! The main square was, of course, pedestrian only.
The first day, we did a city tour with our favorite tour group, Free Europe. They have native English speaking guides that do free tours of major cities throughout Europe every day. It was a good introduction to the city in 4 hours.
The three next days, we tried to plan our own activities. For our time at the city castle and cathedral, we rented one audioguide for the four of us and had Kathy's super informative guidebook photocopies, so we passed along information and Cora between us. We went to the lovely Strahov Monastery on a hill, overlooking the city. It had a library, famous for it's floor-to-ceiling shelves of ancient texts. As a nice surprise, the monastery also has had a brewery since the 1400s, and they still brew an excellent dunkel! So, we just had to partake...
Lest you think all we did on this trip was drink beer, we did take a day trip to the nearby Karlstejn Castle, which was lovely and even authentic enough to have defended itself against two sieges! At this point, we discovered that Cora really did not like tours, since the tour guide lady basically asked me to keep our kid quite or leave. Heh...

--> Baby travel note: Even when Cora was only a little grumpy, she was too loud for most indoor tours. City walking tours we could do just fine with her in her Kelty backpack, but if we wanted any chance of being in a museum, castle, etc, we had to bring the baby bjorn and plan on being able to leave the room if she squirmed too much.

We also spent a day in the Jewish quarter and visited a synagogue given to the Jewish residents by the Andalusians in Spain, so it had beautiful, geometric, hand-painted designs covering the interior. (Sadly, no pictures allowed.) We generally did a fair amount of just wandering the streets, which were really scenic everywhere we went.

The only negatives to Prague were that it was not as cheap as we had hoped, and restaurants stop serving dinner around 10pm. We typically tried to go back to the hostel for a late afternoon nap, but that meant we'd nap from like 5-7, then feed Cora, then try to find a place to eat. By 9 or 9:30, restaurants stopped accepting new customers, so several times we found ourselves begging the waiter to take pity on a poor pregnant lady and get the cook to make us a pizza. It generally worked, but we must have looked pretty desperate. Oh, and these conversations took place in English, since obviously I know zero Czech. Prague was touristy enough that English was prevalent.

So, all-in-all, a fabulous destination, and even after 5 nights there, we felt like we'd just barely seen most of the city. But, it was time to move on to Krakow!
The Charles Bridge and Prague Castle at twilight.

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