Prague by Segway

Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
Trip End Dec 25, 2009

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Friday, October 2, 2009

Our last touring day in Prague as tomorrow we move south to Venice. (Yes, I know, it's not east).  We wanted to go do the Segway tour at 11 but when we left the hotel and were standing at the tram stop, it was bleepin’ cold so we decided to do the later tour and went back to get heavier clothes.  Very, very glad we did.  Weather is getting much cooler and you can see that many of the trees have changed colors although some seem to have gone from summer green directly to late fall dead without much color in between.  Looking at the parks around town through, you can see some lovely colors in the trees.

            Now we have a morning to fill and we had not visited the Loreto which is on the list of Prague’s top 10.  Took our usual tram to get up the hill.  As we are walking towards the palace, we duck into the gardens and wander through there for a bit.  They have conveniently labeled the trees which is nice since I’m not much of a botanist.  Didn’t go all the way through the gardens because it was mostly downhill and I didn’t want to have to climb all the way back up the hill. 

            As we passed through the palace courtyards and out into the square in front of the palace, it was full of people lining the gates and fence.  As we are walking up the hill, a squadron of soldiers comes smartly marching down the hill and into the palace.  Everyone except us seemed to know why they were there and what they were doing.  As we didn’t know, it was too late to find a spot to watch them so we continued up the hill to the Loreto.  We reached it just as it closed for lunch so we too found a nice restaurant for lunch and had some Czech goulash and some bread dumplings.  Can’t say that I care much for the dumplings but the goulash was excellent. 

            Into the Loreto then when it opened at 1.  No photos allowed although I was one of the few obeying that rule.  What a beautiful place.  All the ceilings on the covered cloisters are painted.  There are two massive fountains in the courtyard.  In the center of the courtyard is their pride and joy, a copy of Mary’s house from Loreto, Italy where she received word that she would be the mother of Jesus.  It seems a bit overdone though as it showed, in bas relief, the story of Mary’s life on one side and the story of the birth on the other side.  Don’t think that would have been on her house before she knew she would be the mom. 

            Their chapel was breathtaking.  It was really way over the top in decorations and paintings.  I believe that you could go in there for several months and still find something new each time you looked.  I am really sorry that I adhere to the rules because I certainly would have loved taking photos in there.

            The other part of the Loreto of which they are so proud is their treasury room.  There were elaborated decorated pieces (my hubby says basically like the star on top of a Christmas tree) and chalices, some jewelry and some miters.  The most famous decorated piece is one decorated with over 6000 diamonds and golden rays coming off a center circle.  All the diamonds came off of a noble woman’s wedding dress and they made it into this golden and diamond offering to the church.  They also had one made of pearls.

            After leaving the Loreto, we walked downhill and found our way to Charles Bridge and close thereby is the tour office which does tours by Segway.  Their brochure had not suggested making a reservation but when we asked, there were only 2 spots left for the 3 p.m. tour so we were lucky.  Six of us mounted our Segways rather timidly and had a few minutes to practice around the square.  They are remarkably easy to use although sometimes I did feel like I was going to fall off the back.  Rene our guide told us how to follow him, how to stop, the distance to keep between each Segway and we are off.  Cars have the right of way as they are much bigger than we are.  We rode around Old Town and up to the Castle and down the hill and back around Old Town some more, through New Town, and across some bridges and through the main squares, past the old clock, past the Jewish quarter, around a park and finally back to the beginning.

            As we started, Rene put a "turtle" on each Segway so we couldn’t go too fast but halfway through the tour, he took them off and those Segways can really fly.  We all were wearing a helmet but no one really crashed.  I did fall off once but then so did Rene, our guide.  No one ran into any pedestrians either but there are definitely some Prague citizens who are less than enthused with the Segways riding through the tourist areas.  Most people though would stop and watch us.

            Going downhill was a bit tricky but if you put your feet further back, it helps slow you.  At one point on the hill, Rene stopped and got us some fresh pears off a tree.  Excellent.  A boxer dog went by and he couldn’t figure out what the Segways were.  He was a bit apprehensive on passing them.   At least he didn’t lift his leg on them!  Another place we stopped for mulled wine. 

            We saw more of Prague on our Segways than we did taking the van tour our first day here.  We had much more fun too.  At the end, we were all doing circles forward and backwards and roaring down the road and stopped quickly and turning around.  What a lot of fun.  I think I want one but not sure I can afford one!  The only problem I had is my feet were a bit tired at the end.  You put more pressure on your feet than you think doing a Segway. 

            We left our Segways and found Buffalo Bill’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant.  That’s what it said and while it did have some legitimacy in taste, they lost it all by using kidney beans in their refried beans rather than pinto beans.

            Prague is a lovely, beautiful city.  We’ve been here a week and it is not enough time.  I hope to visit again real soon.
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