Prague reveals itself further

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

I had identified a number of sights that I wanted to investigate further today. Everyone else seemed happy enough to go along with my plan, so off we went.
First up I wanted to climb the clock tower to get a view of the old town from above. We pushed our way through the crown in the Tourist Information office to get to the stairs to the tower on the third floor we stopped to buy the entry tickets - 60 crowns for adults and 40 for children and students. From here we could have taken a lift up to the top but we all agree it would be far more 'authentic' to walk up instead.
Rather than a staircase there is a ramp winding round and round the inside of the tower. This actually made it really easy to get to the top. The last 5 metres or so is climbed up a narrow metal spiral staircase. It's so narrow that the people going up and the people going down have to take it in turns. We waited for a couple of minutes for the stream of descending traffic eased off then we joined the group heading upwards. At the top there are wonderful views of the old town and beyond.
I was proud of Jess for venturing out to the balcony against her natural apprehension of heights. It was quite chilly at the top and after a complete circle it was time to go back inside and climb back down.
Next item on my makeshift agenda was the Salvador Dali exhibition. Jean had seen the Mucha exhibition a couple of days earlier and was impressed so we thought we'd have a look at the Dali exhibition in the same building, just on the edge of the Old Town Square.
We were able to get in for a total of 390 crowns for the six of us which wasn't too bad. The Dali works were mostly woodcuts and some sketches. Not the most impressive of his works but interesting nevertheless. Dali really did have the most creatively warped mind. I particularly liked the small woodcuts representing aspects of Dante's Devine Comedy. I also loved some of the figurines in the collection.
After all this activity it was time for some lunch. Avoiding the overpriced places in the square (I had already paid $6 for a bottle of water) we headed up a small street off the main square in the direction of the Italian restaurant we had eaten at the previous day. We found an interesting small café offering soup and bread for 65 crowns so we all went in and ordered, you guessed it, the soup. We were treated to a homemade vegetable soup that was scrumptious and couldn't resist the wonderful homemade desserts. We asked about some options and the waitress (who was also the cook) recommended the strudel. This was not a hard sell, because we had seen it come out of the oven a few minutes earlier and glide past our table on its way to the display case. It was the best strudel I have had in ages. Georgie and Maggie had a brownie that was massive and delicious (I nibbled a corner).
Next it was a visit to the Anagram Bookshop we had spotted earlier. As it happens this is an English language bookshop which suited us nicely. Jean was able to find a book that would keep her entertained on her flight back home in a couple of days and Cameron bought an interesting looking calendar. From there we visited the massive church that towers over the Old Town Square called Our Lady before Tyn it is a monumental gothic structure both outside and inside.
After this we parted company with Cameron and Jean who went off for a bit of shopping. I suggested we visit one more of the monumental structures on the Old Town Square and really, the others had no choice. We went to the Hussite church of St Nicholas, which has beautiful decorations inside and a huge chandelier hanging in the middle of the church.
After this we needed a break from the cold so we headed back to our apartment (fully two minutes walk away) where we came across Jean who had no key to get back in, then a few minutes later Cameron too who had returned from his shopping. His main purchase turned out to be a marvellous original oil painting of showing some rooftops of Prague in an impressionistic style. He told us it was a thank you for the trip and everything we had done. It was a really lovely thought as well as a lovely painting.
We regrouped, warmed up a bit and headed back out, spending the next hour or so just meandering along the streets popping in to whichever shops took our fancy. A lot of the shops are similar - shops selling puppets and masks, shops selling bohemian crystal, shops selling wooden items, shops selling jewellery, but it was fun to pretend we were interested in (or could afford) some of the items we saw. We loved the art deco shops and the antique shops especially. I was very interested in something the antique shop owner described as a 'Jewish pointing tool' from 1820, but baulked at the $1000 price tag.
For dinner we went back to the special goulash place so Jess and Georgie could experience its yummy food. We weren't disappointed, although with the extra people and the sudden need to buy Mojitos for a couple of the party, as well as one who wanted steak, the price of the meal doubled from 770 to 1495 crowns. Still very good value though.
After dinner we wandered back to the apartment. Jess and I took it a bit slower than the others, arriving about 15 minutes after them, which meant they had the sniffer dogs out looking for us. Oh well - tried to sneak a few minutes alone together!
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