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Published: November 30th 2007
Mat: Cousin Lara, Trace and I flew into Prague on a starry skied Thursday evening, and emerged from the underground into a very crisp but beautiful city. The sub zero temperature was fantastic though because there were mulled wine street stalls dotted about the place and the temperature added to the magic of the place.
We stayed in a hostel that was formally a grand apartment, with a huge room to ourselves, and a shared kitchen and bathroom. After the incredibly polite and friendly owner of the place had sorted us out and given us a map of Prague we headed out to sample our first Czech beer. They do beer right in the Czech Republic. Although the bigger brands are starting to produce blander quaffers just like the rest of the world, it is still possible to buy fresh unpasteurised beer from a tank for a couple of bucks. And apparently just a few years ago it used to be a third the price. In the bars you just plonk yourself down and a barman soon sweeps past laden with half-litre mugs of beer that are quickly plonked on your table if an eyebrow is raised in approval. Lovely
stuff. Somehow the combination of nose-numbing cold outside, then the warm of the pub, then the cold frothy crispness of a Czech pilsner combines marvellously.
Prague truly is a beautiful place. The entire old town (13th century) and "new" town (14th century) do not seem to have a modern building in it. The wealth of interesting architecture is made all the more stunning by the continuity of it all. It would not be the same if modern buildings were interspersed with the old. Also, because of the volume of tourists and Prague's UNESCO World Heritage status, every building seems to have been restored to full glory. Everywhere you turn there are statues, intricately carved wooden doors, complex hinges and handles, bronze plaques, cobbled streets, and stunning churches. We often just enjoyed wandering about the place until the girls got cold and we took refuge in a pub or restaurant.
There are a few must-dos in Prague, namely the Castle and the “Orloj” (Astronomical Clock). On the Friday we tackled the Castle, a large medieval complex beached on the hill overlooking Prague. The first church was built there in the 9th century, and the current cathedral (St. Vitus) and
gothic palace were started in the 14th century. The construction of the cathedral was finally completed in 1929 - that’s 600 years from go to woah! The cathedral is stunning, and the palace's crazy gothic architecture is just downright cool. We wandered about with huge 1980s-cellphone-sized audio guides glued to our ears which added understanding to what we were seeing. The only thing was that they were so big that you could not fit them in a pocket so I dropped mine about 5 times as I tried to take photos.
The Astrological Clock was on the agenda the next day, and after a huge breakfast at “Bohemia Bagel” we waited for the hour to tick over and the famous twelve carved apostles to parade out and impress us. Although the figures were interesting, the clock as a whole was what was special. First made in 1410 it has been ticking away for almost 600 years (with numerous stoppages and repairs along the way). It cunningly shows the various states of the sun, moon, stars, and time, although I’m buggered if I know how to read it.
Probably the only disappointment in Prague is that the national cuisine
is based on cheese and processed meat. That’s not to say that you can not go to one of the many restaurants for good food from other nations, but if you want to dine traditionally, its deep fried cheese with a cheese sauce and a side of sausage.
So that is a taste of the three days we had in Prague. We loved it, we married it. Check out the photos and comments for more about the trip.
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