Friday Sept 7th, 2018
While booking the Germany leg of our tour, I tried to see if we could celebrate our anniversary in Heidelberg or Luxembourg as we were planning to be in Frankfurt on the 6th. Then I saw that Prague was closer to Berlin and immediately the decision was made that we will celebrate our anniversary there. Am so glad that we took that decision because Prague is stunning … its almost as if the buildings are all fabricated in some place and an artist puts them together on the street to create a visual treat. While we had booked Sandeman’s walking tour, I had difficulty listening to our guide Pavel, because the buildings and streets were so beautiful.
We had a lazy start to the day and woke up late, had a leisurely breakfast and called Amma to take her blessings and wishes. Kousalya was the first to wish us and then we had many of our friends sending us wishes over whatsapp. I wore the beautiful black handwoven Paithani sari that I had reserved for this day and Krishnan wore his new shirt. We tried taking a few selfies in the room but they didn’t turn out to be good enough as the lighting played truant. Just as we were about to leave I asked Krishnan if we should take our water resistant jackets as it seemed cloudy. He said the weather forecast was for cloudy weather and it wouldn’t rain…. :).
We walked to the “Flora” metro station and bought a day pass. Took the escalator to the underground and I was a bit surprised to see this particular escalator running a little too quick.
The metro platform looked swanky so we took a picture there..
Doesn’t it look like a movie set? Quite fancy.
We got off just four stations later at Staromestska station to reach the Old Town Square from where the walking tour was to start. As soon as we got out of the metro station it started to drizzle ! While its customary for us to be blessed by Lord Varuna on every important occasion, I was worried that my new sari will get drenched. Anyway, we took refuge near the Franz Kafka museum that’s opposite the house where he lived all his life for a few minutes till the rain abated a bit. We went and registered our presence with the lady from the Sandeman’s tour and she told us to get an umbrella or a poncho as it was expected to rain intermittently throughout the day. We walked across to the store that she had pointed out and bought ourselves a poncho each. We did have a slightly stronger drizzle and the poncho did its job of keeping us dry.
We had two sets of Indian students in our group, a group of three from Kerala and a group of three from Delhi. It was nice to chat with them. Our guide today was Pavel. We started the tour talking about the Church of Our Lady before Týn. Its an impressive church that was built from the mid-14th to the early 16th centuries.
The palace is to the left of the church. On the right side of the church you have a set of low rise apartments that are also old…Einstein lived in one of these apartments for 16 months and played the violin as his buddy Franz Kafka read from his books. Einstein credited Prague for helping develop his ideas on relativity. He taught Physics at the Charles University.
On the opposite side of the church is the old town hall. Almost all the buildings are undergoing some renovation to be ready for the 100 year celebration of the Czech Republic’s formation in Oct this year.
On the left wall of the old town hall is the famous astronomical clock, built in 1410 and is the oldest clock in Europe. This is also under reconstruction so we just got a glimpse of it beneath the blue sheet.
From here we walked towards the Fruit market that sells no fruit … it was a fruit market ages back. At the entrance to the fruit market lane there are two buildings – the one on the left is the Charles University a very prestigious university even now and its difficult to get admission here as its almost free. On the right is the Estates Theatre where Mozart himself played and two of his operas were performed.
We walked into the fruit market and came upon the bust of Ernst Mach who invented the mach number. He also influenced Einstein’s work.
We then went through a narrow passage and came upon the street where one side is the old town and the other side is the new town. There was a moat separating the old and new towns but now the moat has been filled and a cobblestoned path is laid out. We walked towards the Wincesias Square, a prominent square in the New town. Many historical events have occurred here, and it is apparently a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings. The National museum is under renovation so we couldn’t go near it. We took a break after this for some of the group members to eat their lunch. Krishnan and I wanted to have our lunch at the Vegan’s restaurant that was near the Prague Castle, so we just had coffee.
We resumed our walk and went through the Jewish Quarter. We saw the oldest synagogue and walked past the Jewish cemetery. We didn’t go into the Pinkas synagogue which displays the paintings made by children in the concentration camps.
From the Jewish Quarter we walked to the river front and the Rudolphinum. The Rudolphinum is designed in the neo-renaissance style and is situated on Jan Palach Square on the bank of the river Vltava. Since its opening in 1885 it is associated with music and art. We got a better picture of it as we returned from our trip across the river.
At the end of the tour, we just walked across the famous Charles Bridge and up the Nerudova street to eat lunch at the Vegan’s restaurant.
We then had delicious food at the restaurant … just that we had to first walk uphill to get there and then climb three flights of stairs :).
The ice cream at this store was truly outstanding.
On the way back we got two outstanding panoramic shots of the city from the other side of the river.
On our way back we walked to the largest Bata showroom in the world at the Wincesias Square and right opposite the Musket Metro station. We spent a few minutes checking out the store and got into the metro to get back to our Airbnb apartment.
A young lady took the best picture of the two of us today at the Musket station. I think am going to frame this one … A lovely day spent in stunning Prague. Happy anniversary indeed.
Note – The drizzle stopped ten minutes after we bought the ponchos and restarted only after we returned to the Airbnb :):).