Browsing: Czech Republic

Prague, Day 2, Part 3- Boat Tour


Later that same day we headed down to the Vltava River again. this time to join the boat tour that was included in our Hop On Hop Off ticket (the Jewish Quarter ticket was included too). We embarked by the Manes Bridge but were soon floating under one of the many bridges, where I got this shot of Prague Castle.

We captured other views of the Charles Bridge too, having walked over it our first day in the city. We certainly understand why Prague is one of the most beautiful river front cities in the world.

We also got another view of the Old Town Bridge Tower and its stunning Gothic design.

Both Sister #3 and I were intrigue by this adornment on the Charles Bridge, but a Google Lens Search did not pull up a name for the sculpture or an artist.

We were soon passing the building which houses the Czech Ministry of Industry and Travel. Constructed in 1920 I imagined the sun that streamed into the building through the windowed dome.

Once the boat made a turn in the river, we were able to enjoy the beautiful changing colours of autumn since we were missing a similar show back home.

Almost simultaneously I spotted this unusual site-a giant metronome. I was intrigued by it there and found out that it is directly on the spot that a gigantic monument to Joseph Stalin once was perched. That was demolished by dynamite in 1962 and this was installed instead in 1991 to be a symbol of the new world.

As we approached the shore to disembark, we passed another sightseeing boat and a gaggle of white swans.

The cruise was relaxing and enjoyable and we devised a plan to return to the river in a couple of days hence.

Kath’s quote: “To move, to breathe, to fly, to boat, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.”-Author unknown

Love-that is all.

Prague Day Two, Part 2-Guided Tour of the Jewish Quarter


We met our entertaining and informative tour guide on the square and after his pre-amble we arrived at our first stop: the Maisel Synagogue (top) which was built in 1590-1592 by the former mayor of the Jewish Quarter Mordechai Maisel, who also funded the extensive reconstruction of the ghetto. The synagogue is now a Jewish Museum.

A short stroll away was our second stop at the Ceremonial House and

the New Jewish cemetery in the 3rd district. The building once housed the “The Holy Brotherhood of Those Who Perform Charitable Deeds”. 700 years ago, the brotherhood ensured that Jewish burial traditions were followed for its deceased members. The honoured society still performs these ceremonies today.

Illustrated in the bottom picture is the wall of the cemetery which is many meters high. We were told that there are many layers of bodies that lie in this resting place. The cemetery is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It served its purpose from the first half of the 15th century until 1786.

I was fascinated! And then our tour guide told us the fascinating story that the Australian rock band had once filmed a video in this very spot. Old meets new. Open this link to check it out. If the link doesn’t work go to Youtube and search for INXS video shot in Prague.

Along the way, we also stopped at the Pinkas Synagogue. In the early 16th century, it was built as a private house of prayer for the family of Aaron Meshulam Horowitz. After the Nazi occupation of Prague, the synagogue was vacated and converted into a warehouse of confiscated Jewish property. The Pinkas synagogue when restored in 1954-60 to stand as a memorial for more than 78,000 Jewish victims of the Shoah from the Czech lands.

The Old-New Synagogue was one of our final stops. Built during the 13th century it is the oldest building in Jewish Town and one of Europe’s oldest synagogues still in use.

I read this information from a Prague tour site later: Designed by Christians because Jews were not permitted to build, the Old-New Synagogue has witnessed many pogroms …it dominated the quarter of mostly one-story buildings during the Middle Ages. Imagine its walls streak with blood: during the pogroms of 1389, some 3,000 Jews met their deaths, many of whom were trying to take refuge in the synagogue. The blood stains remained on the walls until its restoration in 1618.

Witnessing this, my sisters and I, always sympathetic to Jewish communities, were mostly silent and somber the rest of the day. We all had trouble dreams that night. Travel is indeed meant to transform you.

Just across a lane from the synagogue was this beautiful Art Nouveau residential building on Parizska Street-the widest street of the Old Town of Prague. The building is the entrance to the old Jewish quarter and the street is dotted with high end designer boutiques making the rents amongst the highest in Eastern Europe. Ironic, don’t you think?

Kath’s quote: “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”-writer unknown

Love-that is all.

Prague Day Two-Another Tour of Old Town Square


Since we stayed so close to the Old Town Square, we could hang out there any old time, so I spent another morning in the square including this spotting of St Nicholas Church.

We were delighted with the proximity of the Old Town Square from our apartment. But there were other things we liked about the apartment too. It was very secure, very quiet, very well appointed, very spacious, had a separate water closet from the shower and sinks AND a well-equipped kitchen.

In fact, the kitchen was so spacious that you could sleep in there and Sister #2 did! This meant we all had a private space-me the Living/Dining Room and Sister #3 the bedroom. The room assignments were decided upon since we predicted Sister #2 would be up before us and could possibly get the coffee going. This was an incorrect assumption because some mornings we had to tip toe in when we just couldn’t go without our caffeine fix any longer.

An anecdote about coffee etc. We decided to do a grocery shop close buy and were pretty proud of our purchases despite the language barrier. Unfortunately, we carried home pre-sweetened cappuccinos when we thought we were buying regular instant coffee, sparkling water when we wanted still and buttermilk when we thought we were buying whole milk! Guess what? We lived.

Here is a better look at the Pekny Bistro. We were there twice that day.

By this time, we realized that everyone else was paying at Pekny with vouchers, so we made arrangements at our front desk to get in on the deal too at 9 Euros per day. I opted for banana bread that day but should have had eggs for their protein. I was hangry halfway through the day and my sisters were just fine.

We hadn’t taken the obligatory photo of us at the Astrological clock so that was the first order of business. I thought that the clock was affixed to a church especially when the heads of the apostles poked out when it chimed, but no, it was attached to the Old Town Hall-a majestic one at that. A lovely family from Colombia took the picture of the three sisters and Sister #3 was able to converse with them in Spanish.

I had long been a fan of the Art Nouveau artist lAphonse Mucha, never knowing that he was Czech. In my first little downtown apartment while I was still in university, I had posters of his work adorning the walls. I fancied myself a bohemian like his models with cascading hair and too much skin revealed. If you know me, I am anything but. There was a small gallery of his works right off the square!

I was really impressed with how the Czechs carefully used their space. This restaurant was situated at the corner of the Old Town Square and Tynska street just below the Tyn Church. In fact, it shares two walls with the church.

I loved this vantage point. It reminded me of a similar picture that I had taken in Florence with the Duomo at the end of the street.

Almost adjacent from the Astronomical clock was this sidewalk cafe that advertised pork knee. Haven spent most of my career in the advertising and restaurant business, I could think of a couple of better ways to promote this dish.

I was drawn to the delightful aroma of roasting ham by this food stall on one side of the square. I went back there the day we departed for Malaga and bought enough of the treat for my sisters and I to have delicious sandwiches at the airport.

I had so long dreamed of visiting Prague that I captured Tyn Church over and over again, hardly believing I was finally there.

This picture really struck me. There was a group of nursery or kindergarten kids with their teacher at the square that morning. I don’t know if they were learning about the history of the square or simply going for a walk. I thought about my own grandkids and wished that they were immersed in a rich history and culture like that of Prague.

The time had come to for us to meet our guide for a tour of the Jewish quarter.

Kath’s quote: “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”-Winston Churchill

Love-that is all.

Prague Day One- Dinner at Mincovna Restaurant


Here am I with Sister #2 toasting our beer heritage at our first dinner in Prague.

Long before we actually landed in Prague, we had been researching the best spots to eat. The way I knew to check out Mincovna was this: I have a friend (who I have never met in real life). We go to the same Mexican Island every year but miss meeting each other. I have been an admirer of her photos of the island for many years and finally had the gumption to introduce myself to her on Facebook. We have kept in touch ever since. When she heard that I was travelling to Prague, she consulted her nephew’s significant other who had once lived there. What came back was an extensive list of her suggestions. Some were out of our way, and we couldn’t get into others without a reservation, but we did visit two of her favourites, Mincovna being one of them.

I had read in advance that Mincovna means “mint” and the 200 year old building that once housed Czechia’s mint was beautifully adorned with posters of Koruna, the Czech currency. Coincidentally, the Royal Canadian mint is situated in Winnipeg where we are from, and they had the pleasure of minting commemorative coins for the Czech Republic in previous years.

I also found out that the Chef’s vision was to prepare tradition meals with a modern twist which I eagerly anticipated. The restaurant also boasts many local and Moravian wines. Moravia is the area that my dad was from but that was not enough to tantalize me away from ordering a Czech beer.

My son who is a brewer back home suggested that I go to a beer spa or at least take one of Prague’s many beer tours. But with limited time and wanting to focus my spending on food, I settled for ordering Pilsner Urguell that evening. I love blonde beer, so I was delighted with my choice.

When Sister #3 told me that she was looking forward to a good goulash I was surprised when she ordered Svickova, but here is Chef David Kalina’s modern twist. Whereas goulash is a Czech meat stew often served with dumplings, Svickova is the name of the root vegetable sauce served with this braised beef and topped with sour cream and cranberries as tradition warrants. The ode to dumplings were the bread and dough towers at the back of the plate. She was in heaven.

Sister # 2 opted for pork tenderloin in brown sauce and was well pleased.

I was concerned about the richness of these gravies and opted instead for Wienerschnitzel. Schnitzel has been a favourite all my life as I remembered my Polish Grandma’s mastery of breading meats. The tender veal came with a side of potato salad which too must have had a Czech twist as it tasted nothing like the potato salad by Norwegian influenced mother-in-law makes.

I was appropriately stuffed after our meal and couldn’t even consider tasting the apple strudel which my sisters shared. I said to myself, “Oh, I will have another chance at strudel” but that chance never came. Lesson learned.

We stayed close enough to the restaurant to walk home, and the stroll helped us digest our hearty meal.

Kath’s quote: “Blessed is the mother who gives birth to a brewer“. -Czech saying, author unknown

Love-that is all.

Day One in Prague-Bus Tour & Charles Bridge


Just around the corner from our apartment was the Hotel Paris. I smugly thought to myself that they had the same distance to walk to the square as we did, and we likely paid a smidgen of what their guests paid. But I digress as I am prone to do…..

We boarded our bus at the edge of the square but had some technical difficulties with our headsets and the app so sat on the bus for two loops to take in the breathtaking sights and to know what they were!

We got off at one of Prague’s many famous bridges. I was never able to capture the shot above, so I have “borrowed” it.

We walked along the bank of the Vlatta River to reach the Charles Bridge and that was a treat in itself. The weather was cool, so we appreciated it whenever the sun broke through the clouds.

Right across from the bridge entrance was the Church of St. Salvador which boldly declared a message to Russia’s Putin! I thought that it was brave of them since the Czech Republic has had its own issues with Russia’s bullying.

The walking bridge of Charles is adorned with many beautiful statues as depicted here. This one is dubbed Madonna and St Bernard. I couldn’t help but picture the material girl walking a large dog.

This bottom sculpture was of St Francis of Assisi. While strolling, it occurred to me that Prague’s society was once of religious characters and beautiful churches but something dramatic must have occurred in the past because Czechia is now one of the most secular counties in the world.

From the bridge we got a better view of Prague Castle perched high above the city. The castle is a glorious sight, and I was able to capture it again in the evening at sunset (stay turned).

This end of the bridge has two names “Bridge Tower of Lesser Town” or the “Mala Strana Bridge Tower”.

We didn’t get to wander through Lesser Town as we were chilly and needed reviving.

So, we reversed directions and walked through the Old Town Bridge Tower

but not before we admired the tower’s detail including the band-aid fix to some of the molding.

We happily came upon this cheerful place called the Peppercorn restaurant.

We all ordered hot drinks including hot mulled wine for moi. And since we were a bit peckish, this order of fried parmesan which we shared. Both Sister #2 and I have tasted the same dish in Quebec City and we agreed the Canadian version was tastier (IMHO).

Stay tuned for our first authentic dinner in Prague at Mincona (a former mint).

Kath’s quote: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”– Henry Miller

Love-that is all.

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