Dec 18, 2008
Jan 15, 2009
Where I stayed
Wenceslas Opera Apartments , Vinohradska 22, Vinohrady
After a reasonable night's sleep (we had heaps of traffic noise) we headed out on our mission to explore Praha.Grabbed some CZK (Koruny) from the ATM across the road .. in 2011 Czech Republic will adopt the EUR. Rugged up against the sub zero Arctic temperatures, we walked 10 mins down to Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske Namesti) in Nove Mesto (New Town). Despite the name, Nove Mesto was founded in 1348. It is dominated at the near end by the National Museum and a massive statue of St Wenceslas on a horse erected in 1912.Wenceslas was a prince who was murdered by his brother and is the patron saint of Bohemia. The "Square" is actually 750m long and only 60m wide. It is the scene where student Jan Palach burned himself to death in 1969 as a protest against Communism - and a mass protest in 1989 against police brutality led to the "Velvet Revolution" which overthrew Soviet domination.The Christmas markets are still going strong in Praha so we had some traditional pastry - and found a good souvenir shop where Matt could acquire a badge for his collection
! Then we walked through the streets of the Old Town (Stare Mesto) to the Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti) where it was jam packed !!! Now, this is a place - sensational. Unfortunately, everyone else thought the same and we could hardly move. Headed on up to the Prague Castle (Prazsky Hrad) and Hradcany via the Jewish Quarter (Josefov) and the Little Quarter (Mala Strana). To get across the Vltava River we took the Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), Praha's most famous monument, commissioned in 1357. It was undergoing re-cobblestoning and only partly open but it is still the most magnificent structure! Very cool.Stopped off for coffee on the way up the hill to the Castle, which is really a walled town with 3 churches including the stunning St Vitus Cathedral. The queue was too long and the day too cold to go inside. Saw the hourly changing of the guard when we arrived and left. Down the hill, we found a cool restaurant and had a feed of the local stuff (but NOT carp). The Physics Student who served us was from Slovakia (as is Jaroslav our errant but likable apartment greeter!!) and spoke excellent English..he also provided some insight into local life. Apparently, Czechs consume the most beer in the world - 160 litres p.a. - beating the Germans by 30 litres! Mind you, Czech beer is very good.In the restaurant, the INXS Prague song was playing - "Never Tear Us Apart" - and when we returned to the apartments we reviewed the fantastic video clip filmed where we'd been today- and Ultravox's "Vienna" for ol' times sake! Classic. Josh and Michelle were planning to head out night-clubbing but the cold won in the end and they elected to stay home. Soft.
Saturday, December 27, 2008