Rocking the Rudolfinum

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December 21st 2013
Published: December 22nd 2013
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This morning after breakfast we finished our introductory walking tour with Pasquale. A couple had just arrived from Washington via New York and Amsterdam so Pasquale took us back to the Old Town Square with them which was handy for us because everything looked a bit different by daylight! Then we headed over to Wenceslas Square with Pasquale pointing out the supermarket along the way.

Pasquale had recommended the 'free' walking tours that depart from the Cartier corner of the Old Town Square for a more in-depth introduction to Prague's Old Town. Although the walks are touted as 'free' you are expected to tip the guides for their services. Hmmn, why not just charge a set fee and be done with it?? Anyway, we headed over to Cartier corner and took a walking tour with Jana who was born in Czechoslovakia, but went on holiday to Switzerland for 20 years during the Communist regime. She told us about applying for a permit to go on holiday outside of Czechoslovakia and then packing a bag to go on holiday knowing that she was not going to return.

Jana only returned to Prague after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 which brought about a non-violent end to 41 years of Communist rule and the separation of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic in 1993. Jana took us to all of the main points of interest around the Old Town and filled our head with way more information about Czech history than we could absorb!! Nonetheless a lot of interesting and useful information that we will assimilate as we continue to explore Prague further on our own.

There is so much food on offer at the Christmas markets here!! We keep seeing people walking around eating yummy looking food and then we have to track down the vendor where they purchased it from. Lunch today was a Bramborák each followed by trdelniks and washed down with svařák. So, we started with shallow-fried pancakes of grated (or ground?) potato, flour and egg, flavoured with grated onion (or garlic?) and seasoning. Yum, even better than Kartoffelpuffen! The trdelniks are just like the rolled pastry delicacies that we sampled in Dresden. We only saw one stall selling these in Dresden, every second stall here is selling trdelniks!! The svařák is just hot red wine. As far as we can tell, it doesn't seem to have any spices added to it here.

After pigging out on lunch we decided to climb the Town Hall Tower. Actually it turned out to be not that much of a climb as there were two lifts that took us most of the way to the top! It was a reasonably clear afternoon so we had quite a decent view over the city of Prague. As luck would have it we were on the viewing platform at 3.00pm so we saw the trumpeter trumpeting the hour from the platform. Because we really needed the exercise we walked all the way back down.

Still needing to burn some kilojoules we walked down to the Vltava River via the Rudolfinum. The Rudolfinum, one of the most noteworthy buildings in Prague, was built between 1876 and 1884 according to the designs of architects Josef Zítek and Josef Schulze. Originally intended as a multipurpose cultural building in Prague, the Rudolfinum was inaugurated on February 7, 1885. It carried out its mission until 1919, when it was converted to the House of Commons of the Czechoslovak Republic. Concert activity was restored to the Rudolfinum during the German occupation, but full rehabilitation, particularly of the gallery, did not take place until 1992. After a general reconstruction by architect Karel Prager in 1992, the Rudolfinum became the home of the Czech Philharmonic and the Rudolfinum Gallery.

We crossed the river using the Mánesūv Bridge and took photos of the sun setting behind the Karlova (Charles) Bridge. We walked along the river and returned to the Old Town via the Karlova Bridge. We stopped in at our apartment to change our clothes and shoes before returning to the Rudolfinum for the Symphonic Queen concert that we had booked tickets for. The performance featured an orchestra (obviously), a soprano and tenor and four other vocalists with the most amazing voices. At times it sounded like the tenor, Marek Olbrzymek, was channeling Freddy. And the conductor in his pale blue tails and outrageous white, pointy-toed shoes was really rocking the orchestra!! It was a fantastic performance and so much better to visit the Rudolfinum for the purpose for which it was intended rather than just pop in for a quick look.

We had dinner at one of the restaurants just around the corner from our apartment. It was decorated in a rather rustic style with all sorts of farming implements hanging from the ceiling. Bernie ordered pepper steak and I ordered the goulash in a bread bowl. Bernie's steak arrived with mushrooms on it but, he was so hungry, he said nothing and just scraped the mushrooms aside. He was half way through his steak when his pepper steak was delivered to a guy on the next table who was not happy about not having his fungi. Oops, that plate had to go back to the kitchen for the chef to add some mushrooms!

24,344 steps / 16.58 km

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