Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Table for One, Please

Yesterday began my solo adventures through the city of Prague in an effort to become a bit more self-reliant and a lot more familiar with my surroundings. I skipped out of the apartment and onto the No. 12 tram and headed to Malá Strana, where I meandered down the side roads and under Charles Bridge before finding the stairs that took me up to it and into the midst of all the tourists and statues and artists. It was then that I realized that I had forgotten my camera. Off to a wonderful start. 


I strolled down Charles Bridge. There's a reason it's such a tourist trap - it's fantastic. All of the statues that line the bridge are fantastic to look at, street artists hawk souvenirs like jewelry or cityscapes or caricatures of you (or Michelle Pfeiffer, hello 1990's), and the musicians provide the perfect soundtrack. I must say, however, that one of my favorite things from Charles Bridge was the wedding party taking photos. Now, this was to be the first of many newlyweds I would see over the next two days capturing their special day in such a beautiful environment, but this particular bride was something special. Or, more precisely, her dress was something special. And I use the word dress very liberally here. This, errrr, ensemble, had a slit up to HERE and, get ready for it... lacy knee high boots. Not lace up. Lace. Boots. Lace boots. I did some research on Google to provide you with a visual, and this is as close as I could get:



Fancy, eh? All this, sprawled against what I am sure is a very meaningful religious statue, surrounded by hundreds of strangers. Where is Wedinator when you need them?

I walked to the end of Charles Bridge and wound my way through until I made it to Old Town Square. There was a little market going on that was clearly aimed at luring tourists away from their crowns, but it was sweet. They were selling all types of pastry things and various meats on a stick and were cooking potatoes in a pot that would have easily fit about five of me, while a woman weaved and an ironsmith (?) banged out (?) some ironwork (?). Smited? While all of this smelled delicious, I had already told myself I was going to have a long leisurely lunch in a nice outside cafe and read through my guide books. Which is exactly what I did. I had a nice glass of pivo, ordered a plate of goulash (fantastic) and watched from my table as the Astronomical Clock did it's thing. The name of that restaurant was U Orloje. Very yummy but very pricey, though for good reason. Dinner Lunch and a show. 

Map in hand, I set out to follow it to the Jewish quarter, but got lost in about 2 blocks. Directions were never my thing, and I didn't particularly care. I'll be here for a year, I'll have plenty of time to get there. So I just let myself get lost. Poked my head in a couple of shops and admired the crystal and all of the nesting dolls. Went into the courtyard of a gallery hosting a modern art exhibit and saw four giant hanging handguns and a couple made of ceramic making out in a garbage can. Clearly, I must hit up some museums and galleries because I think it's fairly obvious that I just do not get art. 

I ended up walking straight into the entrance of Tescoes, which was quite handy as that was my final destination of the day, and had I attempted to actually navigate there, I'm sure I would have ended up somewhere about halfway to Munich. Five stories, Tesco? Five? Crazy. 

Laden down with goodies (exciting purchases such as a bath towel and a surge protector, oh la la), I got on what I quickly realized was the wrong tram. Got off once I made that discovery and was right in front of Tančící dům, aka the Dancing House, aka the Fred & Ginger House, aka the Drunk House. You can decide for yourself:




Got on the right tram finally and made it home. Hurrah!


Woke up today determined to be much more prepared for my adventuring. Took the same No. 12 tram back to Mala Strana, then switched and took another up to Prague Castle. The first thing I passed on my way to the castle was the Royal Gardens, so I decided to take a little walk around, and what did I see first?




Yeek. This picture does not even do it justice to show you how absolutely massive this thing was. It had to be 2.5-3 feet tall. He, along with a whole garden full of his folk (and some owls) are on display every day at the gardens, and for a donation you can get your picture taken with one on your arm. I don't think so. I'll gladly give a donation so you can pay for the rope to tie them down with, but I don't think shock therapy is the way for me to get over my fear of birds. That, and I'm fairly certain this thing would crush my arm body.


Whilst trying to get my heart rate back down, I wandered around the gardens, which were lovely. It was nice and quiet and you keep getting little peaks of the cathedral spires or a dangerous look over what I imagine was once the moat. You can walk to where the old and new orangeries are, and I swear that the air there smelled of candy - it was so citrusy. Oh! And I saw something that reeeeeeeally blew my mind. A Roomba-esque lawn mower. (It's the little things, I know). You know if some park had that back at home, someone would have stolen it immediately. 




When I had finished walked around there, I walked through the gallery and into the Second Courtyard of Prague Castle. This is what you see:



Impressive start. According to Peej, that little black iron well in front of that round white thing used to be the only well for the whole castle, and was always locked so that no one could poison the king. Only two people had the keys to it. 

You can buy multiple tickets to the various attractions or group them together, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet and want to space it all out a bit. So I started by poking my head into the Cathedral. Holy moly. (offensive?) St. Vitus Cathedral took 600 years to complete, and looking at it, you can see why. The level of detail is mind boggling, and you could spend years pouring over each and every little aspect of it. The stained glass - sheesh. The middle of the cathedral is all lit in different colors streaming through these windows:


I'm impressed. I may not get the hanging guns or the ceramic couple, but this I get. Wowza.

After being sufficiently awed and ensuring that I will be returning for the full tour, I head back out, passed by the president's house (again!) and wandered to the back of the cathedral, before heading back through the courtyards and out into the front of the castle. I walked around the square in front of it and then headed down the castle steps towards Mala Strana. 


Once I got down to Charles Bridge, I felt it was time for some sustenance in the form of a baked good of some description. So I found a nice little cafe right on the Vltava River and treated myself to a cup of tea (čaj) and apple strudel with vanilla ice cream (cerstvy jablecny zavin vanilkovou zmrzlinou). 




Now that is an afternoon delight. So while sitting in the sunshine, enjoying my treat and trying to memorize my useful phrases list from Peej, I decided that I should take a boat tour down the Vltava. So that is exactly what I did. I spent a lovely 50 minutes listening, first in Czech, then in English (and then German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, something else, and French) to the sites from the river. Thank god for the Spanish and French, because I think someone was having a bit of fun with the English translations as they made no sense. 


Headed home and whipped up a dinner of spaghetti with sauteed garlic, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sausage and then went out for a drink with Andrew and Tara. Found a great little place that I will never be able to pronounce or recreated the name of, but it had amazing pizza that comes in a George Clooney pizza box. What is a George Clooney pizza box you ask?




Here we are thinking we have stumbled across a magical secret, only to learn that there is an entire Facebook group devoted to it, from places all over Europe. Go figure. Still, someone has to finance all of those Oceans movies somehow, I suppose. 


Na shledanou! (Goodbye)

2 comments:

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