Last Day in Europe

Trip Start May 07, 2012
Trip End May 16, 2012

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We had the entire last day open for informal tooling about. As I had given a presentation to the choir before departure on the Prague Jewish Quarter, I wanted to visit that. So Anthony, Karen and I set out. There aren't that many pictures, as they prohibited pictures inside the synagogues, but it was quite moving. The first synagogue we visited had been turned into a shrine to the lost Prague Jews of the Holocaust. They had painstakingly written the names of 80,000 dead on the walls of the synagogue. Upstairs in that synagogue was an art display of Jewish children held in the Treblinka concentration camp. They almost all perished, as did their art teacher who buried their art in a suitcase to preserve it. It was quite moving, as some of the art had pictures of the young artist next to it. Some children were the same age as my children, and my heart ached as a parent for both the children and their parents. I can't imagine how a human being turns off their humanity in such a way as to be able to do that to another human being.

We spent the entire morning going through the complex, with displays on Jewish life and religious culture and political history. By noon, we had had our fill of it and grabbed lunch at a street cafe in the square just across from St. Nicholas. Anthony and Karen wanted to shop, and I had finished my shopping, so I took my leave of them and spent the afternoon by myself wandering around.  I visited the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, also on the Old Town Square.  This church is prominent, but the entrance is off the beaten path. I had to look for it.  The church is still used for worship, but I was able to catch it during one of the visitation periods. In all of these churches, there is a large amount of gilding, but this church seemed to have more than usual. Again, no pictures were allowed, but it was marble and gold everywhere.  After the church, I walked back to the Jewish Quarter to buy a chess set that had caught my eye (I collect chess sets, and I wanted one that was Czech folk art.) Then I started walking toward the river.  I saw the Philharmonic Hall, with its great statues of art music heroes on the top. I then headed south along the green belt, admiring the art of the street vendors and wishing I had more money to spend. Finally, I reached the Charles Bridge again and headed back to Old Town and our hotel.

Our last evening was spent on a dinner cruise on the Moldau.  The food was good, but the company and the setting was amazing. After dinner, I joined a group of fellow students who had called themselves the "Back of the Bus" group and listened to them have a good time singing Adele songs and music theater standards. The sun set on Prague and the lights of the city made it just perfect.  It was a great ending to our trip.

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