Visiting the Library

Today we left at 9:15 or so heading down to take the tram downtown. Yesterday’s ticket was good until 10:19 so we had time. As we headed down we crossed in front of the church in the peace square and found it open so we went in to check it out. Very large and quite impressive. I expected to see room for a lot of people, like the megachurches in the US, but it likely only held a few hundred people.

Outside we stopped in at the farmer’s market. There are these little buildings in squares throughout the city. Anyplace there’s room, there are 20 to 100 5×10 nice buildings where people sell cheese and sausage, honey, flowers, knick-knacks, and other stuff.

We roamed checking out the wares and unfortunately ran out of time on our tickets. So we hiked on downtown. During the walk, Rita spotted a Games Workshop, Warhammer gaming shop so we stopped in. Nothing other than Warhammer of course but it was interesting to check out. There were folks in the back setting up but we’d best be on our way, so we headed back out and continued on. 🙂

My feet have been pretty sore and in pain at times and now it’s climbed up to impact my calves. So I was really taking it easy and taking my time. The cobblestones were especially painful. Since they’re a little rounded on the top, you essentially spread your toes and the forefoot (like the palm of your hand). The rounded nature also hyperextends your Achilles Tendon. With my motorcycle injury from years ago and the more recent Achilles Tendon issues from a couple of years back, too much walking on cobblestones can be quite painful.

We stopped and got pics here and there until Rita led me into a shopping mall. We were looking for a sculpture. It wasn’t in the first part of the mall so we continued on through the sections until we found it. It was a quite large statue of a guy sitting on the stomach of a dead horse that was hanging by his hooves. It’s a play on the statue in Wenceslas Square.

In order to get to where you can take a good picture, there were several stairs you had to climb. The wall was a pretty large set of stained glass.

Next we headed off to the Municipal House for a guided tour. The tour was quite interesting. The tour was in English and Czech but there were also Germans, French, and Spanish members of the tour. They provided language guide books for everyone.

We went to the main hall where the building itself was discussed. It was originally the King’s Court before they moved into Prague Castle. It was used for other things until it was razed. They decided to build something new and built The Municipal House in 1912. It was a marvel of technology at the time with elevators, air conditioning, which consisted of vents to the outside to let in cooler fresh air, and manufactured marble along with real marble. It fell into disrepair during communist rule and they spend a billion Czech dollars bringing it back including replicas that matched earlier pieces using old photos to recreate pieces.

The organ behind the audience.

The President’s Box

The Mayor’s Box

Next we went to the ladies rooms, first Empire decorated with white marble, gold trim and blue table curtains. There was a white marble bar with a coffee machine behind the bar was a kitchen but it was turned into the conductor’s suite as it was close to the stage.

Next was the Monrovia room which was decorated in the Monrovia style. There was a fancy aquarium with glass and pillars of marble that didn’t fit the Monrovia style. No one knows why it was put there. It looked like someone had extra bits form the creation and made something with it.

Between the Monrovia Room and the Oriental hall was a small writing room with a beautiful mosaic fountain.

Last was the Oriental hall with lamps, extendable tables, and air conditioning vents.

The gentleman’s room was much larger and had three huge triptychs depicting three stages of life on the wall, the three more on the ceiling.

The next room was a bit smaller with pictures depicting dream visions the artist had.

The mayor’s room had more Mocha paintings with prominent figures in Czech history and one or two word motivational statements related to the figure. There were three large paintings as well.

The next room was a music room with a stage and chairs. The guide said there were no paintings on the walls because they didn’t want to have people distracted from the music, or they ran out of money 🙂

Last we headed downstairs to the wine room. It had been converted to a concert hall. The interesting thing was that the windows were nicely lit naturally even though we were below ground.

After she released us, we checked out the other room which was a restaurant but with a nice mosaic on the wall.

In the entry way there were quite a few ladybug mosaics and one of several on the walls.

We then left to find something to eat. Rita had a place in mind for Indian but they didn’t serve lunch buffet on the weekends. We looked for another place but the food was way too expensive. A third place was closed. At this point she was leaving it to me but we stumbled on a place and headed in. It was an authentic working man’s place. Something like a country buffet. You got a ticket when you came in and when you made selections, the person giving it to you wrote down what you got with a code number. You moved to the next place until you were done.

We got chicken goulash with rice, Rita also got something like egg drop soup. We couldn’t find a seat but there were ledges around the walls where you could stand and eat and a couple of standing tables which is where we went. Rita only ate about half of hers so I had mine and the rest of hers. It was filling if not too spicy but it came to about $12 total for the two of us. After we hunted for a smoothie place we visited too late on Wednesday and got two smoothies. They were more like drinks vs the semi liquid smoothies we’re used to but they were good.

From there we headed to the river as Rita wanted to check out the world’s largest card catalog at the library.

I decided to side track into one of the enclosed squares. This looked to be in a music house or theater square.

When we were leaving lunch, we smelled smoke from a fire. Initially I thought it was on purpose, to entice people into a restaurant but when we got to the river, the police roared up and blocked the road to let the firetrucks get to the fire. A building a couple of doors down from the library was on fire!

After watching for a few moments, we went into the library. While it was interesting and we visited two floors (and Rita rattled a door or two), the card catalog room was closed per the librarian.

We left to go through the courtyard but exited on to the street. Next Rita was looking for a plain stone archway which led to the card catalog room. She is persistent 🙂 We headed back to the street where the fire engines were and to the river but it wasn’t there. We reversed and headed back down the street when I was accosted by a money changer.

See there are quite a few places of business where you can exchange foreign money for Czech currency. They note the current exchange rate of 17 Ck to 1 dollar and the rate they’re offering of 16 ck to the dollar (there are decimals involved but they’re making about $0.06 or 1ck per dollar). So we’ve been approached several times by folks on the street offering to “change” for us. Of course, I’m a bit suspicious expecting counterfeit Czech money or even theft. We’ve been getting money from the ATM so we haven’t needed to exchange any so I’ve been waving them off. In this case, the guy was way too far in my personal space and with sore feet, I was on no mood so I said firmly “No!” When he pushed it, I said “NO!” even louder. Then it seemed like he was following us so I stopped to let him go by and I watched him as he did.

We continued on looking for the archway and found it. It was where we exited the library courtyard. We were back where we started 🙂 Rita again looked for the card catalog rattling doors but it was unavailable. I did find a plaque for Johannes Kepler 🙂

From there we decided to head back to our room. It was 4:30 or so and Rita’s back was really bothering her. Oddly my feet were either numb with pain or had recovered a little. I oriented ourselves with the map. While I was doing so, a group stopped and asked if we knew where we were. I said yes and pointed us out on the map, then she wanted to know where the Town Square was and I pointed the way in the map. Once we were off, I led us to the nearest metro stop (Mostek pronounced Moose-tek). We got tickets for a 20 minute ride (18 ck each) and headed back.

I didn’t realize until later that these might have been pickpockets. We’ve had warnings about pickpocket gangs on The Charles Bridge as well as The Jewish Cemetery where a woman would thrust a map under your face while an accomplice picked your pocket. We’d taken precautions from the beginning. My wallet and iPhone were in my front pockets and my iPad in an over the shoulder bag that was cross shouldered. As it was in a zippered area, it would have been hard to open although a box cutter or razor on a ring would have sliced it open to have it drop out. With the weight I would have noticed. Rita did mention that it looked like a daughter and parents rather than a pickpocket gang but it is hard to tell for sure.

Back at the hotel we were going to get dinner at the Indian place next to door but I was more tired than hungry and took a nap after running to the mini market for Rita (I did get an ice cream). When I woke, Rita had zipped over for a snack and here we are.

Just a quick note. Sometimes these seem a little sparse, like yesterday. I was totally beat and just wanted to get something down. Tonight should be a little better as I took a nap before working on the blog. I’ll update these with pics when we get back.

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