Czech out Prague

Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
Trip End Jan 26, 2012

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Sunday, June 5, 2011

Prague is unlike most of the other large cities we have been to in Europe.  One of the most noticeable ways is that it has not suffered damage from significant earthquakes or major destruction due to bombing.  It was bombed once during WW2 but that happened by accident when 40 of the 3,600 planes on their way to bomb Dresden, Germany went 120 Km off course and hit Prague instead.  Anyway, the point of this is that the historical architecture of Prague is very much intact and you can walk pretty much anywhere in downtown Prague and see amazing buildings.  It's hard to walk down a street without finding yourself staring at the buildings instead of the sidewalk in front of you.  It's not just the churches, cathedrals, town hall and other historically significant buildings that are standing tall in all their glory but everyday stores, hotels and private residences look like they stepped out of a history book and into the streets of Prague.

We had very little on our agenda for Prague so this allowed us a lot of time to just walk around and explore the city.  Our first evening was spent walking down Wenceslas Square, named after Saint Wenceslas, the guy from the "Good King Wenceslas" Christmas carol.  Wenceslas Square is more of a 750 meter long rectangle than a square but it seems to be the place to go at night in Prague.  It was packed with people walking around, street vendors, street performers, horses and carriages, dogs and birds and...  well you get the idea.  It was an interesting place to just go and people watch for an evening.

The next day we visited Prague castle which is the largest ancient castle in the world, covering over 18 acres of land and is still the "official" residence of the President of the Czech Republic.  Although it is the official residence of the President, the President's living quarters in the castle are quite small and uncomfortable, plus most of the castle is open to the public so the Presidents for the last 22 years have chosen to live elsewhere.  I'm sure that helps avoid any awkward situations, say on a Saturday morning when the President is standing in the castle kitchen in his underwear staring in to the fridge and 900 tourists are taking his picture.  I can't blame the President for not wanting to live in the most popular tourist attraction in the country
Even though we have now seen a number of castles, I especially enjoyed this one because of its large exhibit of medieval armor and weapons and the dungeon which was also open to the public.  I would not want to have been on the wrong side of the King after seeing the dungeon and instruments of torture and execution that they have in there.

One of the oddest pieces of art work we have seen in Europe yet is in Prague.  It is a bronze statue of 2 men peeing...  It is a fountain and water actually comes out of them but the best part is that they are animated and there is a phone number posted next to the statue that you can send a text message to and they will "write out" the message you texted in "pee".  Lots of people seemed to like getting their picture taken with their hands in the streams of pee so it was hard to get a good video clip of the statue in action but I have posted a short clip below.

Our last afternoon in Prague was another low key day of exploring.  We visited the Canadian Embassy, mostly just because it was there and we had never been to a Canadian Embassy before.  Being the capital city, there are a lot of foreign embassies there and many of them are side by side on the same street in a touristy part of the city below the castle.  Canada has their embassy way off in another part of the city all by itself but it was surrounded by great Czech restaurants and pubs with good food and really cheap beer...  Coincidence?  I don't think so :-)
And on the topic of Canada.  While we were walking down the street in Prague on the day of game 3 in the Stanley Cup finals, we noticed a group of people walking around wearing Vancouver Canucks jerseys which we thought was pretty cool.

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