Once again, I apologize for the lack of home decor related posts. I will warn everyone that Ive been a lot lax in that department so I'm going to be going on random tangents between now and when I get back to finishing my house off. I'm afraid I'm boring everyone with my trip recap based on the drop off in posts but my obsessive compulsive self requires I finish the recap. But this is the final installment so bear with me.
We arrived in Prague to more clouds. At this point, I'd given up hopes of seeing a patch of blue sky on the trip. Thankfully the rain held off for most of the leg but we kept an umbrella close by just in case.
Prague is much more like Budapest than Krakow. Its not really THAT large of a city but it certainly feels that way with all its grand Gothic architecture, wider streets and huge crowds. I was a bit taken back by the sheer size of the crowds here - I knew it was the most popular destination of the three but I didn't understand just how popular. As with each city, the architecture is stunning. Prague certainly doesn't disappoint in that area. And it wasn't as worn looking as much of Budapest is. Their economy still seems to be striving and it shows.
We stayed in Mala Strana area of Prague at the Mandarin Oriental. This side of town is a bit more posh and a bit more quiet but still nicely located near plenty of shops, restaurants and the Charles Bridge. It was a very nice place to stay but I think if I returned to Prague, I'd like to try to stay in the Old Town section just for the change. The bathroom was dreamy and I took full advantage of a big soaking tub that had a tiny TV. Of course the only thing I could watch was the financial collapse on CNN, but that's not the hotels fault :)
Our first order of business was to cross the famous Charles Bridge. Here is where we first found the hordes of crowds. The bridge is amazing but I was somewhat disappointed to learn the statues are all replicas. The originals safely hidden away in a museum. I tried my best to get some good photographs but I never seemed to get a shot off without someone stepping in front of me. Oh well.
Our first night there we had tickets to see the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Dvorak Hall of Rudolfinum. Lest you get the wrong impression about my level of culture and breeding, this was my first visit to the symphony and the tickets were given to us as part of the package. We didn't even realize it was included until we got the tickets delivered to our hotel! I wasn't quite sure if the symphony was for us but since the tickets were there, we put on the nicest clothes we brought (which weren't that nice but we didn't seem to stand out too much) and off we went. It was quite a show and we learned that you should not clap between sets but you should clap for what seems like an eternity after the show is over while the conductor enters and exits the stage several times. I'm not sure I understand the tradition but we were both entertained and glad we went. I will say my favorite part was watching the cymbal player who had a very limited role - if you are ever at a symphony, word to the wise: Watch the Cymbal player!
The next day we had a full day private tour as part of the package we booked. That meant 8 full hours of walking around! We certainly got a good feel of the layout that way. We even got a few halfway decent photos together so that was a plus.
I'm starting to sound like a broken record but the city was beautiful. Of course we made the obligatory stop at the Astrological Clock in town square and waited with all the other tourists for the hourly "show" to begin. I won't ruin the surprise for you but for all the tension in the crowd, the show was a little anti climatic.
Unlike the other cities, the retail vices of the Western world are ever present here. Starbucks? Check. Hermes? Check. Marks & Spencer's? Check. And several other chains that I had no use for while on my vacation to a far away land. But progress marches on I suppose.
There were also several antique stores in the city and I combed through lots of them. Unfortunately, the prices were outrageous. I can't imagine how these shops stay in business charging what they do but I left empty handed. It was fun to browse though.
We ate way too much and it was all delicious. Its amazing how Eastern Europeans stay thin as all the food is incredibly bad for you and all the portions are huge! And I won't even mention the booze and beer.
But all too soon it was time to pack it up and head home. And as we fly west back to Brooklyn, guess what I saw?
Blue sky!! Argh!
A great trip that has somewhat soothed my wandering soul for now. Back to reality.
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