Trip Start May 21, 2008
Trip End Jul 01, 2008

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday 6th June
Happy Birthday to Peggy, Happy Queensland Day.
Now to continue, in Prague (Praha). Our walk took us to the Prague Castle, a large complex with Churches Cathedral, Archbishops' palace, and other buildings high on a hill.
 The guard at the gate very serious in his little box, he would not smile for a photo. 
The Czech people seem very glum, hard to get a smile from them.  Our guide explained that after wars, communist regime and an unpopular government, the people have learnt not to show feelings for fear of retribution.  How sad.
We went into a large cathedral, St. Vitus founded in 1344, not many seats, not needed, apparently over 60% of the population are atheists.    Beautiful stained glass windows, carvings and over 2000 bodies buried within the walls, floors.  One coffin is  made of over 2000 kilos of silver, I took a photo for you, but stood in a place I was not supposed to, soon got moved along.  Look at the carved gargoyle; they are on all corners of the parapets.
We were fortunate again, there was a medieval festival going on (Kylie would have loved this).  Big parade all in costume, banging of drums, horses, carriages, flower petals, dancing, and a Court Jester who was very naughty, splashing people from the fountain.   Fellows that looked like Vikings rode on the horses and lovely ladies of the Court in the carriages.
We sat and watched whilst indulging in a cappuccino, and then moved down a narrow lane, on to the Charles Bridge founded in 1357.  It is only for pedestrians again, and there is a place that is supposed to be lucky (it was where a saint was thrown over the bridge.)  You stand here place your left hand over the 5 points of the cross, your right finger on a gold spot on the bridge and your right foot on another gold spot.  Ever heard of the game "Twister"; then you make a wish for your luck.  Of course we tried this, never know your chances. Artists sit along this bridge, I quite fancied the old organ grinder, but his monkey was not real.
Moving on into the Old Town Square, 12th Century, and the old Town Hall established in the 14th Century.  Here is the famous astronomical clock where the 12 apostles appear every hour, a cock crows, a skeleton rings a bell. The legend has it that after the Clockmaker constructed this; he was blinded so his feat could not be repeated.  But he got his revenge later, when it needed to be fixed he "broke" it and it was unable to be repaired for many years. At the Town Hall there were lots of Wedding Cars, many weddings that day, we were told they prefer to marry here, and there are a lot of divorces, few church weddings.  In the photo of the bride, she has to walk to the ceremony quite a distance, the man behind carrying her train.
Other sites were the "Powder Tower" built 1475, used as gunpowder depot.  There are many spires, so fairy tale like in appearance, you look up and wonder is this where Sleeping Beauty is waiting.
We went into the Church of Our Lady of Victory 1611, now the Carmelites have it.  This church is famous because of the "Prague Bambino" an Infant Jesus wax figure that is supposed to be the source of many miracles.  Surrounded by gold and well protected.
We saw the statue of King Wenceslas, he was supposed to have had 4 wives, and they all predeceased him and were placed in the same coffin.  Economical? Natural deaths? And he is the foundation of one our famous Christmas Carols. And we visited the Lennon wall with an effigy of John Lennon, it was a place to protest and write slogans, it changes every day, originally the police arrested anyone who did, they had cameras watching, and then the police had to clean the graffiti off.
Whilst the history and the sites are amazing, the other beautiful things are the shops: - Bohemia Crystal, Swarvosky, Kosta Boda, all sorts of Crystal, and jewellery shops. You wind around the lanes and turn a corner and there is another shop or two. How you would get it home would be a problem.   Anyway, I am sticking to my guns, not buying souvenirs for us and others, just using the money for optional extra tours to see as much as possible whilst we can.
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