Prague, Czech Republic. October 12-15, 1999

My written narrative ends at this point so John and I have put our heads together to try to remember the three days we were in Prague.  Eileen drives us to the train station and we take a train to Prague. The train ride takes four and a half hours and we are in Prague by early afternoon.

We are somewhat flummoxed when we get to the station in Prague as there does not seem to be any onward transportation to get to our hotel. But people are helpful and direct us to another nearby building.  By helpful I mean that they want to walk us to the building and we are somewhat freaked out by them. We buy a ticket for the tram/bus and it takes us near to our hotel which is an old converted convent near the river. The picture below from the internet is where we think we stayed. The name has been changed.

Hotel Casa Marcello

Our hotel is near to the Vitava River and there is a pleasant walkway that takes you into the city. From the river you can see the castle complex looming over part of Prague.

View of castle complex from across the river

I cannot pretend to know what order we did things in but let’s say that since we only had part of the afternoon left that we walked into the city and saw their famous mechanical clock and the city square. We may have searched fruitlessly for the entrance to Tyn Church whose towers are very visible but whose entrance is not.

Famous clock

We also walk back and forth over the Charles Bridge spanning the Vitava River. It is a famous, now pedestrian bridge and has many statues of saints and lots of artist and performers plying their trades. John and I need to take pictures of one another on the bridge holding our Prague tour book (in case someone might have mistakened us as locals!)

John with Prague travel guide
Mary on bridge

The first night we are in Prague, we are very interested in trying some authentic Czech food and find a restaurant where we eat a very heavy meal of goulash and compressed bread dumplings. Not known at the time, but the gravy served with the goulash is made from a beet and beef stock. When our bodies finished processing our dinner, our poop is a very disturbing color! It took us a day or two to figure out whether it was something we ate or we were dying!

The second day we are in Prague we visit the castle complex. It is enormous and consists of many buildings including a cathedral and an old church. We rent an audio tour guide to help us navigate.

Castle tour

After our very lengthy tour we are looking for a way to get back to our hotel when an elderly gentleman sees that we are flummoxed and offers to help us. Once again we are taken aback by the friendly, helpful people but we warm to him and let him escort us to the correct stop for the tram/bus. During our conversation he thanks us (Americans) for winning World War II. It is very touching. He tells us how he had lost most of his hearing due to artillery concussions. I wonder if he walks along that stretch of road daily finding lost Americans to thank.

On both the second and third nights we eat at Taverna Toscana, a downstairs restaurant near the mechanical clock. We are happy to eat Italian food after our bad experience with Czech offerings. Our waiter speaks six different languages. While we are  there he waits on tables that he converses with in English, Spanish, and Italian. He tells us that he wants to emigrate to the US but that getting a visa is very difficult. We feel America is missing out on an exceptionally talented and able man.

On our last day we visit the Jewish quarter and cemetery. We also go to this area with Sarah on a subsequent trip. It is a somber and anguishing visit. So many people slaughtered. It is so unimaginable that it is a good thing that these monuments to the horror exist.

Later that night we go to a concert in a church. As you walk around Prague people in period costume dress are hawking tickets. I do not remember what we heard. Maybe Vivaldi? Smetana?

  Outside venue for concert

We catch the train back to Vienna where we end up sitting across from a family from Danville, CA. It is a small world.

It has been a long and interesting trip through Europe. Most of the places we visited we will visit again over the next twenty years. There is always something new to see and learn.


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