St Nicholas Church belfry, the Powder Gate, St Jacob's Church and the Klementinum

December 22nd 2013
Published: December 23rd 2013
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This morning we ventured over the Vltava River on the Karlova Bridge and found ourselves in the Lesser Town Square. It is possible to climb up the belfry of the St Nicholas Church in the Lesser Town Square, but there are two other St Nicholas Churches in Prague. Talk about another day, another tower climb!! Unlike the last couple of towers we have visited, we had to take the stairs all the way to the top of the St Nicholas belfry.

The stairs to the open viewing platform weren't too bad but, after that, we were able to climb even further on a very narrow spiral staircase. When we reached the uppermost level we were disappointed to find that the viewing area was enclosed and only had porthole windows. But then we discovered that the windows could be opened. To get a shot across to Prague Castle I had to lean out the window and compose the shot using 'live view' to avoid the eaves obscuring the top of the windows. The lengths you go to for a photo.

Next we walked around to the restaurant we have booked for Christmas Eve dinner. Bernie thought that it would be wise to find the restaurant in the daylight rather than wait until Tuesday night when we have a booking and have difficulty finding it in the dark. It is very hidden away up a hill and then at the end of a dead end street; now we have sussed it out in the daytime we should be able to retrace our steps at night time.

We wandered back towards the river through the narrow streets that house the buildings where the Czech Senate is based. Every time we turned a corner it seemed that we had yet another fantastic view of the castle on top of the hill or another pretty terrace of houses. Everything here is so picturesque.

Down at the river I fed the swans with the bread that I saved from breakfast. Two ladies deliver our breakfast each morning and there is enough food to do breakfast for two days so it was easy to decide that some of the bread could be used to feed the swans. The swans are so tame that they can be fed by hand. The only problem is that they are so keen to take the bread from your fingers that they don't pay much notice to where the bread ends and where your finger starts! I was bitten on the finger a couple of times - lucky swans don't have teeth like Gidget the Golden Retriever who also sometimes gets excited about food and careless about where the treat ends and your finger begins.

We returned over Mánesūv bridge to the Old Town and walked along the other side of the river to Karlova Street. Charles Street is the main tourist thoroughfare and it was absolutely packed with people on the weekend. It was a very slow shuffle back to the Old Town Square! After dropping into the apartment for a pitstop we ate again at the Christmas market. Today we sampled langoše (Hungarian deep fried flatbread) with garlic, ketchup and grated cheese topping, trdelnik and medovina (which is warm honey liquor or mead). Phew, very smooth and very sweet and then the alcohol sort of catches up with you! We are certainly on a fat and sugar diet at the moment. We did eat an apple and a mandarin at breakfast time though so we had some nutritious food for the day.

After lunch we walked back to the Powder Gate and St Jacob's Church that we visited with Jana yesterday on our walking tour. Jana kept joking about us carrying our nice cameras and not taking any photos. It's too hard though, to take the shots that you want to when you are with a guide. It's OK if you just want to point and shoot, but if you actually want to look for the best angle for photographs it imposes too much on the guide having to wait for you to catch up all the time. We figured that we have enough time in Prague to return to the places that we want photos of.

We stopped by the apartment on our way to the Klementinum. The Klementinum is home to the Czech Republic’s National Library and covers more than two hectares in the romantic area of Prague’s Old Town. The Klementinum dates back to the 11th century when a chapel was erected and dedicated to St. Clement. In the middle ages, the complex became a Dominican monastery and afterwards in 1556 a Jesuit college and was at one point the third largest Jesuit college in the world. In 1773 Empress Maria Theresa established the Klementinum as a university, library and observatory. In 1781 the National Library was founded on site. The Baroque complex is the second largest complex in Prague after the magnificent Prague Castle and features beautiful architectural facades, lush courtyards with numerous sundials and attractions such as the 68 meters high Astronomical Tower, which affords panoramic views over the city of Prague, the Baroque Library Hall and the extraordinary Mirror Chapel.

Bernie had booked us in to do a tour of the Klementium and then attend a concert in the Mirror Chapel. We weren't sure exactly what the pre-concert tour would entail, but thought that we may as well book the combined ticket. The tour started in the Mirror Chapel and then we were taken upstairs to the Baroque Library Hall which was magnificent, even if some of the shelves are currently empty while the books are being restored.

After the library we continued to climb up and up and up ... all the way to the top of the astronomical tower. Oh boy, the leg muscles were feeling the effects of two tower climbs in one day! At the top we were allowed out onto an open air viewing platform which provided some amazing views of Prague at night. Without tripods it was hard to take photos that would do justice to the views, but ... we tried anyway. Then we had to climb all the way back down to the Mirror Chapel for the concert which treated us to a performance by a string quartet accompanied by an organist. It was quite different from Symphonic Queen, but enjoyable nonetheless.

We ate close to 'home' again tonight at one of the other other restaurants just around the corner from the Arcadia Apartments. Tonight we sampled svíčková na smetaně, knedlík which is a traditional Czech meal that consists of beef sirloin with dumplings and vegetable cream sauce. It was delicious, but very, very rich.

19,938 steps / 13.58 km

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23rd December 2013
Omen for season 2014 - Go Tigers

I hope you bought that, Bernie! Are they matrioshka dolls? Go Cats anyway, but amazingly cool!
24th December 2013

Merry Christmas
Hi Tracey and Bernie, hope you have a wonderful European Christmas, looking forward to catching up in March. Best regards, Valerie and Wade
24th December 2013

Christmas greetings
Hi Folks. It is the 25th here. so greetings to you both. Enjoy reading your blog. Its a good thing you are doing so much walking, amazing food . Keep safe. love Judy
25th December 2013

Beautiful Prague
Love your fantastic pictures of Prague, which bring back the memories of our holiday in that city some years ago. Tracey and Bernie, have a wonderful Christmas in Paris of the East. Best wishes Lalitha

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