The Retirees go Abroad – Prague and the Czech Republic – Farewell to Friends

Saturday and the weather was becoming hotter. Early morning was still cool so best to set off early. Breakfast at Pauls preceded a stroll over to the central rail Station. The original building looked very sad from the outside but it had been extended with a modern glass and steel extension and tunnel under the road to make it a very busy station. At the same time as building the extension they freshened up the art deco interior of the station making it really swish inside. Outside in the park we found the memorial to Woodrow Wilson who is remembered by all the Czech citizens of the USA for the services to their home country after WW1 by this monument in his honour.

We intended to visit the Jewish Quarter but were unexpectedly confronted by the Jerusalem Synagogue. I don’t know what you would call the style – baroque meets art deco with a touch of Arabia. Shanelle thought she would put the synagogue to good purpose with a poignant photo about evil.

As we turned back to our apartment we could not help but find interesting features on the buildings – like the wall mural on the soup kitchen. If there is any one thing that makes Prague stand out it is the diversity of its architecture and the use of colour design and art to enhance its appearance. Oh and the Tram turned into a restaurant as well.

This is Ivor and Shanelle’s last day and they fly out around noon so we farewell them and watch them leave in their cab. We decide to continue our walk and head onto the Jewish Quarter. The temperature has climbed to 34C so we seek the shade wherever it can be found. The Jewish Quarter is made up of a number of synagogues and the old cemetery. The oldest synagogue is still the finest in my view.

We found more of that diversity and some interesting street art – from the Franz Kafka statue in the precinct where he was born to the statute of recreation. We even stopped at the Restaurant Amos for refreshment.  Although Prague is a large city it can be easily navigated particularly when you are centrally located. We made our way to the Powder Tower and the shopping precinct (via the shade) and visited the National Orchestra House a superbly baroque styled building inside and out. Where it had taken us hours to walk to this point from Wenceslas Square we found that 10 minutes down the road we were back at our apartment.


The Retirees go Abroad – Prague and the Czech Republic – Here we found Paradise

The weather has taken a definite turn for the hottest. Many of the Czechs we speak to say that this is their hottest and driest summer. Friday, after recovering from our tour of Terezin we decided we would walk to Prague Castle early in the morning for breakfast. This is the best time to walk the streets of Prague – when the bloody tourists are still in bed. Here are some photos of the walk – the view to another bridge, the castle on the hill, the statue that grants you your wish 6 months later (see the bright spots – that is where people rub with their left hand whilst making their wish), the penguins, some chestnuts on a tree by the bridge, and a peculiar statue which includes a disinterested Turk on the left hand side.

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Through the gatehouse onto another square (that is a convent you can see in the background), then these modern hitching rails, a memorial to the students killed in riots against the Soviets invasion in 1948 and then we found Paradise. It could be the buffet breakfast or it could be the Gardens of Paradise adjoining the castle. We then went for a walk in the King’s vineyard. Here are the photos.

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The Czech Republic has a well recorded history. The lands formerly called Bohemia, Moravia and Lower Silesia, were settled by Celtic tribes then by Germanic tribes and then by Western Slavic tribes. According to a popular myth, the Slavic settlers come from Forefather Čech who settled at Říp Mountain and from this comes the name Czech Republic. Ethnic Czechs were called Bohemians in English until the early 20th century, referring to the late Iron Age tribe of Celtic Boii and their land Bohemia.

The lands were ruled by a King as the Holy Roman Empire for many hundreds of years until the last Wenceslas died without issue and his sister took over but married a Prince of Luxembourg, the most successful and influential of all Czech kings Charles IV, who also became the Holy Roman Emperor. After Charles the Hapsburgs came to power breaking up the Holy Roman Empire and creating the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia became part of that empire for the next 400 years until Ferdinand was shot and WW1 broke out. After WW1 Czechoslovakia was created with the help of Woodrow Wilson of the USA until 1939 when the Germans invaded then the Russians in 1948 until the “velvet revolution” in 1989 when Czechoslovakia was recreated only to be peaceably dissolved to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

We had read about the Marionette Theatre of Prague and this night we were determined to see the performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Dinner was at the U Prince Restaurant just beside the Old Town Square between Coyotes and Hard Rock Café. I think we made the right choice for us. We enjoyed it so much we returned for coffee and dessert.

The Marionettes was something to behold. The serious performance of Don Giovanni performed by Marionettes and their handlers left us uncertain as to whether it was enjoyed or stared at in amazement. From the orchestra leader who became bored then drunk throughout the performance to the handler who got impatient with the closing duet and tried to stop the show it was unique in all aspects. It claims to have been running for 15 years.