DAY 4 – Wednesday, June 26, 2019 – Prague
Morning came way too soon!
After breakfast, we took the tram to the Prazsky Hrad (Prague Castle). It was built in the 9th century. Unbelievable! It is so huge! There was an armed soldier guarding the castle. According to our castle guide, Richard, Prague Castle is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest palace.
The Prague Castle has over 700 rooms and has been the seat of Czech rulers for over a thousand years.
We saw the windows through which Catholic leaders were thrown from in 1618.
In 1617, Roman Catholic officials in Bohemia closed Protestant chapels that were in the process of being built. On March 23, 1618, three Catholic officials were defenestrated – thrown from a top-floor window of Prague Castle – by an angry mob of Bohemian Protestant activists. Miraculously – either by divine intercession of the Virgin Mary who caught them or because they landed in a pile of manure – none of the three men died in the 70 foot fall. The Prague Defenestration triggered the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648).
After the castle, we toured St. Vitus Cathedral on the palace grounds. All of the buildings and decorations were amazing. There were so many tourists being herded through the cathedral. Richard talked and we took photos – even in places where we shouldn’t.
The construction of St. Vitus Cathedral began in 1344, but because of wars and plagues was not finished until 1929 – almost 600 years of construction!
Barbara had a list of all sorts of things in Europe that we were supposed to touch or rub for good luck. As we were parading around a statue, everyone in front of me was touching an angel’s knee. So, I reached out and touched it, too. Of course, I was the one who got scolded by an employee not to touch the statue. As it turns out, I don’t think it was on Barbara’s lucky list anyway.
Back outside, we got shushed and scolded by Dicktator for falling behind. I realize he’s just being protective of us (and probably treating us like he did the high school students who he traveled with), but Dicktator is my new secret nickname for Dick since I heard another woman in our group mention that his scolding triggers her PTSD.
As we walked between the buildings to Golden Lane, we passed a group of soldiers.
There were tiny, colorful houses dating back to the 1400s and 1500s along Golden Lane. Today, the houses hold historical displays and cute shops. I bought a Pepsi Zero for 99 crowns and a gelato for 5 crowns.
Dicktator had given us strict instructions to meet at the end of Golden Lane and not walk to the bus until our entire group was there. When we got to the meeting spot at the end of Golden Lane, only about 1/3 of our group was there. The view was superb!
Barbara asked Misa about Daliborka Tower, which we were standing next to. Misa suggested we go down to the dungeon and check it out. Doug and Rita, from our group, followed us down the stairs. It was a torture chamber! It was very interesting. There was a lot to look at.
When we came back up, our group was gone! Assuming our group had left without us, we thought we better hustle to catch up. Doug, Rita, Barbara, and I were heading down a staircase to get to the bus, when I noticed George frantically climbing up the stairs. I stopped him to confirm the rest of our group was already down below. He was relieved to see us, but if I hadn’t stopped him, he would have walked right past us. All’s well that ends well!
After the tour of the castle grounds, our group split up. Some went back to the hotel to rest. It hit a record high temp in Prague – close to 100 degrees. The rest of us went back to Old Towne. Barbara, Marlene, and I had lunch at Clock Caffe, right across from the Astronomical Clock. Barbara and I shared a sausage and cheese plate. The astronomical clock is on the side of the Old Town Hall. It has complex gears, golden hands, and zodiac symbol decorations. When the bell chimes, windows open and mechanical figures begin to dance. We watched the clock strike 2:00. 1400 hour = 14 chimes.
We shopped for a few souvenirs and headed back to the hotel on Tram 17.
Barbara, Marlene, and I freshened up and got all dressed up for our night at the theater. We met our group downstairs at 4:45, walked back to the tram, and took it back downtown. Why did I shower? I was a bucket of sweat before the tram even arrived. Remember? 100 degrees!
We walked to a restaurant – no air conditioning – and ordered beers. Before our beers arrived, they served us beef in gravy with bread dumplings. For dessert, we had ice cream with raspberry sauce.
After dinner, we walked to the National Theatre for a beautiful production of The Black Swan. It was my first ballet. Although the set, costumes, and dancing were spectacular, I nodded off about ten times before intermission. I thought it was over. I was confused. I thought Barbara was eating peanuts through the first half, but it was lifesavers – she was popping them like crazy trying to keep herself awake. We weren’t the only ones who were tired and having a hard time staying awake. Marlene and I each had a Pepsi during intermission. I was much more awake for the second half. I still needed to have Barbara explain the story to me, though.
After the show, half of the group went back to the hotel. The rest of us walked over St. Charles Bridge and back taking in views of Prague Castle all lit up.
We were a block or two from the tram stop where we had gotten off. Barbara decided to take a 10 second video of the castle. Just then, Tram 17 pulled up. “Do we have everyone?” I heard someone ask. “Barbara” I yelled, “we’re loading NOW!” Barbara magically appeared behind me. Marlene was unaware that Barbara was right there; she panicked and started screaming Barbara’s name. It was a little extreme and nerve wracking, but all’s well that ends well!
Back at the hotel, I spent over an hour strategically packing my stuff, so I wouldn’t have to unpack it all for one night at the next hotel.
Have you been to Prague? What did I miss? Where should I go on my next visit to the city?