Rita decided today that we’d be riding the Trams instead of walking for which my feet were grateful. We started out but it was cold enough that we turned around and grab our coats. We did a little touring on the way of course.
At the metro, we bought a pair of day passes for 100 ck. Oddly a three day pass was 330 ck but a five day pass 500 ck. Not sure why three days were 30 more. We got on tram 22. Rita mentioned we might visit the Prague Castle. A guy nicely said it was in the other direction. He didn’t know we were wandering around and that we’d get to the castle. But friendly folks of course 🙂
We say several interesting buildings on the way out including one that was multi color and a couple of Jetson like buildings with futuristic designs. We rode to the end and hopped off. I snapped a quick one of the tram heading our way at the end of the line.
We got off at the stop with the colored building (Nikon) and headed out to walk a little.
Rita had been looking for a herb shop and spotted one on our way out which was why we got off at this stop. We headed over to see if they had what Rita wanted. Unfortunately the lady wasn’t able to understand enough of what Rita wanted to help. We headed up the street a couple of blocks and started in on a series of stores starting with a book store. Rita was looking for a wifi-hotspot so she could use her iPhone translator to come up with the correct wording. We spotted a book store and Rita found a wifi-hotspot but she also mentioned a Magic The Gathering sign out front so of course I had to drop in.
We stepped in and I looked around. Back in the corner was a sic-fi and hobby corner. There were several board games, Arkham Horror in Czech but it’s a huge box and not easy to carry back in my luggage, plus a bit on the expensive side. There were a couple of others I also recognized; Small World, Axis & Allies, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and even Agricola. There were a couple of books that looked game like but I wasn’t sure enough to take a chance. I really wanted a Shadowrun book or at least something I recognized.
I finally settled on a Terry Pratchett book called Pravda (Truth). I thought it was particularly appropriate :). The woman was very friendly and tried to be helpful but didn’t know any English. When I brought the book up, she said, “Czech, Czech?” I got what she said in a second. Smiling, I confirmed I wanted a book in Czech, I said “souvenir” which she seemed to understand 🙂 and I asked how much. She told me but I didn’t understand. In a sec, she wrote down the price, 245 ck 🙂 somewhat on the pricy side at $14 but something I wanted. Plus it had a cool cover 🙂
Back on the street, Rita had a translation for her word and we headed back to the herb shop. This time she understood but didn’t have what Rita wanted. We headed back the way we came (the bookstore) and on. We stopped for a snack at a minimart then got back on the tram.
This time we continued on past our stop to Prague Castle, of at least the nearest stop. I was jonesing for a gyro. I’d had them in Athens and back in Colorado and while Colorado was pretty good, it wasn’t quite as good as the one in Athens. I figured I’d get a good one here in Prague as well so upon getting off of the tram, I spotted a gyro shop and we headed over. Oddly they only offered beef and chicken and were out of beef. So I got a chicken gyro. There were several options in the window and the guy didn’t quite understand English so I just pointed and got cabbage, lettuce, onion, and something else with chili powder and wrapped with a tortilla. Rita got a Felafel plate.
I have to say, it was probably the worst “gyro” I’ve ever had. Rita wasn’t too happy with hers either saying the felafel balls were mostly tasteless.
We headed over to a Starbucks if you can believe it and while Rita hit the bathroom and got coffee, I updated the blog.
From here we planned on heading up to the castle. We went by the Parliament Building which was in the same square as Starbucks, then did some back alley exploring until we headed up to the castle stairs. We also stopped by the British Embassy which was tucked in a little alley.
Then we followed the road a bit locate the stairs. We stopped at a few art shops along the way but the art was a tad on the expensive side.
Check out the arrow slits in the walls.
They’re narrow on the defender side and wide and lower on the attacker side. So the archer has a small window where he can be hit but a wide outside the wall so he has a nice field of fire.
There was a nice view on the way up the stairs.
The first place we saw was the Archbishops Palace (Arcibiskupský palác) which is to the left of the main palace gates.
Across the square was the Schwarzenberg Palace (Schwarzenberský palác v Praze) with very interesting wall carvings.
At the main gate to the palace, the guards are changed out hourly with some ceremony. In the mean time they are much like the British guards in that they are not permitted to move. The interesting item is that when they gained their independence again, they contacted a famous, costumer is probably not the best word but he gathered information from prior to Communism and created the new uniforms for the guards.
The six armed statues on the top of the palace was pretty creepy. The faces looked like a sack with a slit for the mouth.
The inner courtyard had a fountain and a deep well.
Once through the second gate, we were at St Vitus Cathedral. It had quite a few spires and was pretty impressive.
We followed it around to the other side. There was a pretty cool mosaic above one of the entrances with a couple of interesting ones inside over the doors.
There was a toy museum on the left on the way to the other steps. We went into the court yard but wasn’t interested in seeing 50 years of Barbie. 🙂
Over to the side was what looked like some sort of stage but there were bars on the windows.
On the way out and towards the stairs, we spotted someone standing very still. Having dealt with folks like this on the Pearl Street Mall (a cowboy painted all in copper), we waited for a sec and he replied to a couple getting pics.
While heading down the stairs, we saw a different wall down below that looked melted. Turns out it was a dripstone wall in the Wallenstein Gardens.
We finished going down the stairs and hunted for the wall. We did go a little far and eventually turned back to find the gardens. It took a couple of questions to the guards but eventually we found the right way in and went in to check it out.
To the right was a large “outdoor arcade-lined space for relaxation and entertainment. Built in the early baroque style in the first half of the 17th century. It is decorated with scenes from the Trojan War painted by unknown artists.”
Rita hit the bathroom as I checked out the wall. The bathrooms are an interesting proposition. There are different configurations depending on where you are. There seems to be two entrances in public places with someone, man or woman tending the place and taking money. Five ck in the metro. Ten ck in the tourist areas. In the restaurant there was a single entrance with urinals to the right but if a guy had to use the toilet, he shared the room with the ladies on the left. And manning the WC (Water Closets) has to be one of the worst jobs.
Something else. Everything costs something. You don’t get water free, it’s either “sparkling” or “still” water and it comes in a bottle. Even getting a second spoon for a “shared dessert” costs extra. Rita said the bread they put out with dinner is added to the meal if you eat it.
One more thing. There isn’t the problem with breasts here. There in advertising all over and one ad for underwear let you confirm her hair color. I guess with all the artwork, it would be odd to be prudish about it in ads.
From the gardens, we headed back to the square we had arrived in earlier and headed towards the Charles Bridge. Rita had a restaurant in mind for us to try that was on the river and below the Kafka Museum. We’d started over The Charles Bridge and had to double back to find the right path. Going through one of the squares, we found a narrow alley to a bar that was so narrow it even had a pedestrian stoplight so folks could get in and out. Must be hairy in a fire although I guess you’d just jump in the river 🙂
To the left, we found the Kafka Museum and the restaurant we wanted to try. The courtyard had an interesting sculpture.
We didn’t know this at the time, but the hips are connected to the internet. You can text a message to them and they’ll pee your message in the water. Otherwise they pee quotes.
The restaurant was to the right and below the museum. It was very upscale looking and the prices the highest we’d seen so far. I ordered Salmon and Rita a spinach salad. The Salmon was very good. I also ordered cheesecake which I thought was ok although Rita thought it was very good. At the end, the meal was 805 ck. I sort of gasp at this but it works out to be $47 which was worth it, the meal was quite good. I also got some pics of the river while we waited.
The Charles Bridge from our seats.
Once done, we headed back to the Charles Bridge and started over. There are 30 statues with interesting stories. One was of a priest that the king trussed up in armor and threw into the river because he wouldn’t tell the king what his wife confessed to. If you rub his statue, you’re supposed to return to Prague.
There was statue of Jesus where he had two fingers up in a peace sign and some vandal had broken the index finger off so he had just the middle finger up. One thing we were warned about were pickpocket gangs specifically on The Charles Bridge. We were very observant and none hit the area apparent time we were there.
We continued on into the heavy touristy crowd checking out the shops and shows. There were several marionette shops. Pretty cool. Plus lots of interesting artwork. After a bit, we wandered by the Astronomical Clock. It was almost 7 so we waited a few minutes and got free hugs 🙂
Eventually we found the metro and headed back to our room.
We’d been out for 7 hours. My feet hadn’t quite given in yet but it was a close call.
We took lots of pictures. I had a hard time picking just a few above. Feel free to head over to the main site for all the pictures.