Mluvi nekdo anglicky?

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Thursday, August 30, 2007

The title of this entry says it all (in Czech of course!) "Does anyone speak English?"   Most everyone speaks some English here and they are willing to let you know they speak English.  Unlike France where even if people speak English they are often hesitant to use it or to let you know that they can understand what you are saying.  It usually becomes clear as the conversations progress when you are only speaking English and somehow they understand what you need....

Anyway, we arrived by plane "Smart wings" in the am on the 29th.  The airline was so smart they took an extra 60 Euros from us due to excess baggage issues...20kg limit...we were very sad.  Hired AAA taxi service to took us to our posh hotel:  Crowne Plaza Prague Castle.  We got a great Internet deal (via Bernard my travel agent of course) and the place is super cushy. 

We were slightly comatose upon arrival due to our early Paris departure but we managed to take a tram, then two Metro trains to the Railway station where I purchased my ticket to Budapest.  From there we took the train back to the river and walked over the Manesuv most (bridge) then over the Karluz most (famous Charles Bridge) which is stone and covered in statues, people, trinket sellers, and more!  Spectacular views of Prague Castle on the hill and more.  The city really is like stepping back into time.  So clean and well maintained as well.  The first day it was hard to shake off Paris...what a spectacular city but by today, my mom and I had settled into the city and were really enjoying it.  We found a cafe adjacent to the Charles Bridge and had snacks and wine...and bread with so much butter it was hard to finish it.  My mom and I had a good laugh about that one...after struggling unsuccessfully around France to get butter with our bread!  With quite a buzz going we managed to make our way back to the tram but couldn't figure out which stop to get off and we had forgotten our hotel cards.  It was funny, on and off the tram, asking locals etc.  We finally made it back right before dark and went promptly off to sleep...zzzzzz's.

This am we slept in a bit and emerged from the hotel early afternoon to the Tram again over the Manesuv most into the Old Jewish Ghetto.  We bought the combined ticket and audio guide and wandered through the area.  We started in the Pinkas Synagogue which is a memorial to the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia murdered by the Nazis. Aaron Meshullam Horowitz ha it built in 1535.  The names of the victims are inscribed all over the walls of the building.  From 1992 - 1996 the 80,000 victims names were rewritten on the walls.  Upstairs there was a permanent exhibition called "Children's Drawings from Terezin 1942 - 1944. There were 10,000 children under the age of 15 imprisoned in Terezin only 242 survived.  The Jewish Museum has over 4,000 drawings made by these children.  The exhibit was organized thematically:  Before the war, deportation/transport/ etc.  It was heart wrenching especially with the photos of the children next to their drawings.  

From there we moved on to the Old Jewish Cemetery which was established in the first half of the 15th century.  The oldest tombstone dates back to 1439 and burials took place until 1787.  There are almost 12,000 tombstones but they said that the number of people buried is around 6 or 7 times that because bodies were buried on top of one another due to space restrictions. 

Then we saw the Klausen Synagogue and the the Ceremonial Hall...then the spectacular Spanish Synagogue which was built in the Moorish Style inspired by Orientalist thought and the Alhambra in Spain....unfortunately no pictures were allowed in any of these buildings or in any of the other churches here so I could only document the exterior and the cemetery.

The other memorable building was the Old-New Synagogue because although it is very old, it replaced another even earlier Synagogue.  Built in early Gothic Style around the middle of the 13th century.  The main hall is the only existing medieval type hall of its kind, represented originally by the Romanesque synagogues in Worms (dating from the 12th century) and the early Gothic synagogue in Regensburg...The Old-New Synagogue still hold services today.

Early afternoon my mom and I also had a brush with some pregnant gypsy girl pickpockets.  My mom had left here backpack zipper open and one of the girls 'bumped' her, took out an empty glasses case, threw it to the ground and as my mom and I figured out that something had happened an honest passer-by picked up the case to give to the girl.  My mom grabbed it and I grabbed the girl's arm while my mom checked to see if anything else had been stolen. Luckily it was just a reminder to be careful in the city!  Tonight as we were walking near the Charles Bridge, I saw another pregnant girl scoping out tourists and I caught here eye and shook my head and walked on.

We had an typical Czech meal near the Old Town Square where we also saw the famous Astronomical Clock.  There was sooo much food:  dumplings, boiled cabbage, boiled pork, roasted duck, ham.........and of course, apple strudel at the conclusion! 
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potichu on

Very nice report!

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