April 24, 2012 Pilsen and on to Prague

Getting up this morning it was cloudy and cold in Bayreuth. We have had a lot of infelicitous weather and we are hoping for sunnier skies soon. The forecast seems promising.

We decide to break up the drive which should be about three plus hours to Prague with a stop for lunch and a look-around in Pilsen. Pilsen turns out to be kind of a grim city but there are public gardens and tulips everywhere in the center.

Sarah in Pilsen center

First order of business – lunch. Sarah would like to try Czech food and so we find a pub named Svejk named after the main character in Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hašek. It is a black comedy about World War I where 140,000 Czechs died fighting in a war that they did not understand for an empire that they had no allegiance to. Anyway, John and I manage to find a fairly reasonable selection of trout and salad (mostly bell peppers) and Sarah eats a rather over-the-top cheese wrapped in bacon then beer battered and fried dish and a bowl of garlic soup. It’s a little much for our old arteries.

John and I have trout and mostly bell pepper salad

Sarah has garlic soup for lunch

Cheese wrapped with bacon dipped in beer batter and deep fried

After lunch we head out to see the Great Synagogue of Pilsen. It is the second largest synagogue in Europe and third in the world (after Jerusalem and Budapest). At one time Pilsen had a thriving Jewish community of between two and three thousand people. They built the synagogue to seat 1900 people. After the World War II only about 200 had survived and these few dispersed to Israel and the United States. The synagogue was lucky to have survived the war and groups are trying to repair it. I always feel so sad and angry for all the people who were lost.

The Great Synagogue of Pilsen

Interior of the synagogue

We also take a short visit to the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew. It is in much better repair than the synagogue. Unfortunately we cannot get past the iron gates to the interior. It appears that there would have been a lot of interesting things to see inside. Drat!

Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in Pilsen

There are no pictures for the rest of the day but it is not without drama. We find our hotel in Prague. Later we go out to dinner. As we cross the St. Charles bridge, the first raindrops are starting to fall. We have ventured out without raincoats or umbrellas. We stop at an Italian restaurant to have dinner and wait out the storm. The storm is not going away. Buying some umbrellas on the street, we attempt to keep dry for the rather long walk back to the hotel. The rain is falling sideways and the wind is fierce. Our umbrellas turn inside out in the storm. Needless to say when we finally get back to the hotel we are drenched and cold. So much for sunnier forecasts.

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