Monday March 26: Prague


Beautiful sunny day today, got up around 60 degrees. A great day to be outside. There are still an awful lot of tourists here, but it isnít quite as bad as it was on the weekend. I canít imagine how it must be in the summertime!

Today was another heavy-duty walking day. I started out by returning to the Old Town Square; went into beautiful St. Nicholasís Church, which turns out to be almost square inside Ė beautiful Baroque interior with lots of gold and frescoes. Then for a different perspective on Prague, I went into the old Jewish Quarter. This was preserved by Hitler for the macabre purpose of creating a sort of museum to a vanished race Ė at least, that was his plan. There are several very old synagogues, the old Jewish Meeting Hall, an extensive museum, and perhaps most famous, the old Jewish cemetery. Iíve heard a lot about the cemetery, and intended to go in, but I thought the $15 admission was really too much to pay. I hope my Jewish friends and family arenít too disappointed in me.

After exploring that area for a while, I headed back to Old Town Square via Paris Street, said to be the most beautiful street in the city. There are an awful lot of beautiful streets, but this one is certainly lovely. It was Ďcreatedí in the 19th century as a civic improvement project, and the street is wide, with gorgeous art nouveau facades.

Back near Old Town Square, I took a detour to find the Estates Theater, which is the oldest theater building in Prague and the location of the premiere of Mozartís Don Giovanni. Unfortunately itís not open for tours, but it was fun to see it from the outside at least. Itís pretty thoroughly hemmed in by surrounding buildings, so photographing it was a challenge.

The latter part of the day I spent primarily shopping. Honestly, I think I hit a sightseeing overload, I just couldnít figure out where to go or what to see. This evening I have recovered, and I think tomorrow morning Iíll have some interesting sights to enjoy. But I just couldnít manage it today. I did have some fun shopping in both the Old Town and along Wenceslas Square. Walked all the way up Wenceslas today, to the National Museum (didnít go in, it was late in the day), the huge equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas, the art nouveau Hotel Evropa, and some other miscellaneous sights. Dinner at another little Czech place, not such good food but the atmosphere was lively and entertaining (aside from the surly waitress). Then back to my hotel to regroup, repack, and get ready for tomorrowís morning of sight-seeing and afternoon train back to Vienna.

This isnít too long today, so Iíll add some miscellaneous observations here. First, Europeans smoke a lot more than Americans, or at least a lot more publicly. Some restaurants have token non-smoking sections, but they donít usually mean much. Vienna just started a no-smoking law on the subway trains Ė there are posters all over to remind people. They can smoke in the entry levels of the subway stations, but not on the platforms. I havenít been on the Prague subway yet (I will in the morning) so I donít know what their rules are.

People take their dogs everywhere too Ė on buses, in the subway, shopping, etc. And they DON"T clean up after them! Have to be on the lookout for poop on the sidewalks and even in the subway stations. They really should have a law about that Ė itís rather disgusting.

Meat and starch is about all you can get to eat, unless you really work hard. I guess all the walking they do helps make up for it Ė certainly I havenít seen nearly so many overweight people here as in the States.

Vienna is the most livable city Iíve ever seen. I donít think Iíd ever consider leaving the U.S., but I can more easily imagine living in Vienna than in any other foreign city Iíve experienced. Culture, safety, ease of transportation, appreciation for the arts, things to do, availability of pretty much anything one could want . . . itís quite a place. And fruits and vegetables are readily available in the markets, so by cooking at home, one wouldnít have to do without those. On the other hand, itís quite an expensive place to live. Nothingís perfect!

My biggest packing error was failing to bring my pedometer (I started to get it several times, but kept getting side-tracked). I'd dearly love to know how much walking I've done on this trip!!!! Vienna and Prague are both serious walking cities!

Thatís enough rambling for one evening. More tomorrow!

Love to all,

Carlyn

Last updated 12/07. Copyright 2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to richard.c@morenus.org