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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 6
Europe 2005
London, Paris, Normandy, Prague


Carol and David  
Day 7

Happy Birthday Arlene!


We slept fitfully last night. Carol's cold/cough kept her up and I was up with her sympathetically. But she finally drifted off to sleep and we woke at 8:30am, showered, dressed and enjoyed another delicious breakfast at the hotel. The Maximilian is a four-star hotel and we love it. The design is “minimalist” – very chic, and the accommodations are excellent. Free Internet access for guests is not wasted on us. The staff is quite friendly and helpful. One of the nicest hotels we have stayed at in all our travels.


Carol in the lounge at the Maximilian


Today appears to be bright and sunny. Our plan is to take the walking tour of the Prague Castle. After breakfast we wandered through street markets southeast of Old Town Square. I snapped some photos of a young Italian couple about to be married. Then we gathered at the Old Town Clock Tower and joined others for a walking tour of Prague Castle.


Toys at a Prague street market


Peppers at a Prague street market


East meets West


New bride at Old Town Square


Cobbles in Prague

Cobbles in Prague
Cobbles in Prague
Cobbles in Prague


Carol enjoying Prague's sunshine


Our young guide, Sienna, led us and did a great job of crowd control. Somehow she managed to keep track of the 12 of us amidst the thousands (literally – there had to be 10-20,000 people on the grounds of the Prague Castle and Cathedral of St. Vitus). The history of this place is ancient and steeped in mysticism, from the Golem of the Jews to the princess who could predict the future and thus directed the location of the Castle. We watched the hourly changing of the guard and then entered the grand, ancient cathedral with its beautiful stained glass, high stone arches and enormous pipe organ. The walking tour lasted 2 hours and was over too soon. The walk began with a tram ride up the hillside, then continued with the actual tour of the grounds, and then a (slow) walk back down the hillside. The $12 per person fee was worth every karuna and we highly recommend it, especially if you can locate Sienna, who walks very fast and is very knowledgeable of the local history.


Our guide, Sienna


On the Castle grounds


Notice the hammer and sicle?


The Cathedral of St. Vitus on the Castle grounds


Castle guard

Adornment at the gates of the Castle


One of the beautiful stained glass windows at the Cathedral of St. Vitus
Inside the Cathedral of St. Vitus
I think if you throw a stone from any direction in Prague it will eventually roll into Old Town Square. Like stones, we rolled back into Old Town Square through sheer gravity and fell into the comfortable seats at the café outside Hotel U Prince, where Carol had Plaice baked in almonds, served with steamed broccoli and potato puree, and red wine, and I had homemade linguine with mushrooms, fresh spinach, pine nuts and parmesan and pilsner beer. Nice place to recharge. Lunch was out-of-this-world. Highly recommended.


Carol enjoying lunch

We are surprised at the cost differences between Prague and London. Today's lunch cost around $30. The same lunch in London would have cost $75. Prague is very affordable. London's prices are out-of-control. We love London but each time we return it is more and more expensive.

Billboard for the Museum of Communism

Back to the hotel for a bit of a rest. Called partner Chris who has had what sounds like a bronchial infection. It was great to talk to Chris, who heads to New York City with his bride Toni when we return home. God bless Chris, Dan and Cody for watching the Fort.


Carol rests at the Maximillian

We are in the heart of Bohemia. Prague was home to Anton Dvorak, Franz Kafka, Smetana, Mucha, for a while Mozart, and the great astronomer Tycho Brahe, to name but a few. It is here that good King Wenceslas lived (and was murdered by his brother.) The Castle has been home to kings and queens since the 900s and is now home to the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel (Staromestske Namesti.)


Old Town Square: Church of St. Nicholas, stunning rococo Kinski Palace (now an art gallery,) the towering Church of our Lady Before Tyn with its twin gothic steeples, the central Jan Hus monument (a religious reformer, Hys is a symbol of integrity,) the Old Town Hall Clock – the famous astronomical clock draws crowds every hour. No traffic allowed except for horse-drawn carriages. Ringed with historic buildings. Unique atmosphere. Café tables on cobblestone. Estates Theatre – featured in Molos Forman's Amadeus. A university called Carolinum was founded here by King Charles IV in 1348.


Crossroads of Europe, at one time Prague was larger than Paris or London. Prague's Golden Age was during the reign of Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, during the Middle Ages (1346-1378). First university in central Europe. Austrian Hapsburgs took control in the 16th century. Prague became capital of an independent republic in 1918. In 1939 the Nazis invaded and occupied, followed by 40 years of communism. In 1969 a student named Jan Palach set himself on fire and burned to death as a protest against Soviet occupation, leading to the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989, which ultimately led to the demise of Soviet control and the fall of the Soviet Union.


Carol had an hour-long Thai massage (popular in Prague) while I rested.

Carol came back from her nice Thai massage, and we freshened up, dressed, and strolled back to Old Town Square. We have a special adventure planned for Friday/Saturday, so we walked many blocks up to Wenceslas Square to the Prague Train station, where we bought one-way second-class tickets from Prague to Berlin and first-class overnight tickets from Berlin to Paris. This adventure will allow us several hours to experience Berlin on the way to Paris and Normandy.


Carol and David at Wenceslas Square
Prague Museum


Prague Opera House


After visiting the train station (spooky) we walked back down into Old Town Square and had dinner. Carol had a delicious Greek salad, very nicely presented, and I had a chicken kebab with plums and sweet corn – out-of-this world. We honestly have to say that some of the best food we have ever enjoyed on our trips to Europe have been in Prague. Excellent and reasonably priced... However, one word of warning: don't be surprised if the prices on the menu do not add up to the bill. There are very often service charges and cover charges added almost sneakily.


Carol enjoying dinner at Old Town Square


Church of Our Lady Before Tyn all gussied up for the evening


It was around 9:00pm. After our delicious dinner we strolled slowly around large Old Town Square, took in the lights, the sights and the sounds. Since it was beginning to get late for us old folks, we decided to sit in one more outdoor café for coffee and dessert. We sat in Café U Prince in front of Hotel U Prince where we immediately met and struck up a lively conversation with Pat and Martin, a lovely and intelligent couple from Birmingham, England. We enjoyed comparing travel notes and discussing the upcoming British election. Pat, a fellow musician, took notice of my long right-hand fingernails (for classical guitar) and asked if I was a musician. No one else has ever made that deduction – now there is one astute woman. We very much enjoyed and appreciated the hour we spent chatting with Pat and Martin, but at around 11pm we said our goodbyes and wished them a safe journey back to merry England.


Carol, Pat and Martin

All-in-all, another interesting and fun-filled day. We fell into bed thinking about tomorrow's adventure.


Pedometer reading for today - 8 miles

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