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Europe » Czech Republic
May 20th 2013
Published: May 21st 2013
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Enjoyed a breakfast of muesli & croissant with double espresso; the hotel has a beautiful buffet each morning and the staff was very attentive. The breakfast room was such a pleasant room to enjoy I decide to delay my adventure for the day and spend some time on my blog. Head out about 11 a.m. and catch the metro, then the tram to the Petrin Funnicular. Public transport is cheap, paid just 310 Kz or the equilivant of $15 for 72 hours and includes, Metro (subway), trams, busses, even the Funnicular. The queue for the funnicular was short and I boarded in less than 15 minutes. Unlike the Dresden funnicular which only had one or two other riders this attraction was filled to capacity.

Built in 1891 the cable car was originally operated by water, which was fine in summer but in winter the freezing temperatures made the trip unreliable. It is now powered by electricity. At the top there are beautiful gardens, an observatory, and a replica of the Eiffel Tower, smaller, with just 299 steps to the top. Yes, up, up, up and round and round I went, then as the sign promised, I was rewarded with a fantastic panoramic views of Praha. A bit of huffing and puffing but I wasn't the only one. There, got my exercise for the day! Or so I thought.

Stopped for lunch on the way to my tour connection. Great chicken spinach pepperoni pizza, baked in an open brick pizza oven, the pizza only rivaled by a pie I still remember from the El Conquistador is Puerto Rico. The pizza and 2 Czech beers set me back just $7.80. Started towards the Charles Bridge and the American Embassy. E-bikes was just a short distance from there. Alas, I underestimated the distance. Fearful I would arrive to 10 or more impatient tourists, I put on the steam, thinking "good thing I have developed the stamina from the 5ks I've been doing". Phoned to say I'd be late 10 minutes. Uphill, cobblestones and probably a mile an a half, race walking trying just kept focused. Asking directions several times I finally arrived: hot, sweaty, and really huffing and puffing (well now, I've REALLY exercised) to discover that the group for the tour was not angry. They didn't even exist!

There was just one other traveller for the tour, a lovely young
FunnicularFunnicularFunnicular

This one was water powered when built
woman, Selma, from San Francisco who was in Prague for an engineering conference. Selma is from Armenia and proved to be a delightful companion. Blister #2, left foot heel, on the rise. Blister #1, left foot little toe, is nearly healed, God Bless blister band aids!

Our guide was Janna a beautiful Czech woman from a town of 15,000 about 100 km from Prague. This was an electric bike tour. 37 km on cobblestones, dirt paths and at least 50%!u(MISSING)phill. The bikes do a great job of minimizing the amount of effort needed, especially on uphill slopes. The day was perfect, bluest sky, whitest clouds and about 70 degrees. This was a great choice; on this tour I got to see the city as you could in no other way.

We visited among other highlights:

Prague Castle, 1000 years in the making, which dominates the city's skyline. It's jumble of styles and influence perfectly illustrating the shifting demands of its occupants and conquerors over the last millennium. At the centre of the castle with it's dramatic Gothic spires and flying buttresses, visible from everywhere in town, is the imposing St. Vitus Cathedral. Adding to the setting
Eiffel Tower ReplicaEiffel Tower ReplicaEiffel Tower Replica

299 steps up, around and around
was a unit of soldiers marching on review. While we didn't stick around to see who, dignitaries were present on the grounds and were heading their way to St. Vitus for a private tour, thus the presence of numerous uniformed military guards as well as the parade. 2 brides and their new husbands were in the square with photographers.

Loreto -a baroque fantasy, it's a swirling mass of stuccoed cherubs that front the facade, perhaps the wildest expression of Catholic Baroque in PragueThe Metronome which actually works, was constructed in and is meant to symbolize constant change.

Pissing Men A robotic statue of two gyrating men urinating by David Cerny is next to the Frank Kafka museum. This humorous creation affectionately titled "Piss"

Metronome Where there once stood one of the largest Joseph Stalin statues ever erected, completed in 1955 and razed in 1962, a massive kinetic sculpture, a 75 foot fully functional metronome, now stands in its place. Designed by Czech artist Vratislav Novak and constructed in 1991, the metronome is meant to be a steady reminder of the history of Prague — its days as a Soviet satellite and its eventual rebirth as an active
Panoramic ViewPanoramic ViewPanoramic View

From the top, yes, I made it
democracy.

Dancing House is the first masterpiece of modern architecture desinged by world renowned architect in Prague since the Velvet Revolution tandem was built in 1989 and was said to be in honor of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair.

The John Lennon Wall is a symbol of peace, love and harmony. Anyone is invited to draw or comment on the wall as long as their depiction is in accord with these values.

We traverse parks, riverside paths, and even a tunnel on Vitkov Hill under the equestrian statue of Jan Zizka, the largest in Prague. Jan Zizka circa 1360 - 1424, a Czech general and Hussite leader. Nicknamed "On-eyed Zizka." Down blind alleys and twisting lanes, we passed ancient Romanesque basilicas, Gothic turrets pointing up like magicians' hats, brutalist Soviet tower-blocks, fortresses, and Art Nouveau facades. Prague is a mass of extrovert styles knitted together in a glorious and unique cityscape. 5 hours later we return to our origination point, butt sore, and cobblestone shaken. Wouldn't change a second of it.

We finish at 7:30 and Selma and I decide to dine together. I ordered roast lamb with spinach and gnocchi all with a rich brown wine sauce, heavenly. Time to say goodbye to my new friend, Selma and I part, promising to stay in touch. I head off to Charles Bridge for the mandatory viewing of Prague's number 2 attraction. Arriving at the late hour of 9:00 p.m. all the vendors and musicians normally on the bridge to entertain the visiting crowds have parted for home. I partake of great illuminated views of the city and return to The Hotel Louren bone tired and still needing to pack as I head to Budapest tomorrow. Thank God, I need a massage after that bone jolting ride.

The Czech people are happy and helpful, most speak some English and they have no problem with public displays of affection. After decades of oppression by the Hapsbergs, the Nazis and Communism they are enjoying their new found freedom fully. Spring fever had them out everywhere, parks, hillsides, sidewalk cafes and sitting on stoops. The women do not do bare-legged, even the young girls wear tights under their jean shorts. Only the older generation seems staunch and tight lipped, probably waiting for the next siege.

Long live freedom for the Czech Republic.


Additional photos below
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BabyBaby
Baby

From One Tower
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Dinner

Lamb, gnocchi, spinach





21st May 2013

Fun!
Love reading about your adventure!!! Sounds like you're having a wonderful time! Travel safe!
21st May 2013
Two Men Drinking By Moonlight

Amazing picture!
Love this picture!!
21st May 2013
John Lennon Wall

Art
Love the art!
21st May 2013
Dancing House

Looks impossible
Amazing architectural work!
21st May 2013
Chicken, Pepperoni, Spinach Pizza

Pizza and beer
YUMMY!!!!!!!
21st May 2013
Panoramic View

Beautiful soul
What a great picture! Love the bright smile. :-)

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