S/O and I toured Prague Castle (by some measures the largest castle in the world) then spent the afternoon and evening strolling our way through Prague away from the crowded tourist districts. Prague Castle was interesting—beautiful gardens, a spectacular cathedral, a basilica, a big assembly hall, and a tiny well preserved street which at one time housed goldsmiths and where Franz Kaufka once lived and wrote (No. 22).
We came back to the hotel for a medium sized nap, then went for a stroll in “lesser town” which is an area bit away from the tourist areas. One of the things I really enjoy doing when traveling is to get away from the tourist tracks and Prague was no disappointment at all. What I have learned is that Prague is truly a city going through an economic revolution. If you spent all of your time walking through the main tourist area, you’d totally miss the evidence of the revolution happening behind the charming old facades that give Prague its truly awe inspiring charm!
Our hotel, for example, has a traditional looking façade, but when you enter through the front doors you walk into an ultra modern and very posh four star hotel.
The restaurant that we had dinner at was yet another example of modern digs hiding in old world clothing. I forgot to take a picture of the unassuming front of our Austrian restaurant, but way down in the basement we came upon this beautiful vaulted brick cellar serving really delicious food!!! Prague’s prices have leaped into the modern age so gone are the days that early travelers talk about of five course meals for the equivalent of three American dollars, but our meal of flank steak stuffed with peppers and goat cheese and pork medallions and apple slices and cream sauce with potatoes, a Coke Lite, and a glass of wine cost us just over the equivalent of $30.00 dollars American which included taxes and service.
A few blocks down from the restaurant, I happened to drop into a rather run down and worn looking storefront and what I found inside was a bit like crossing the mountain pass into Shangri-La, Alice falling into a rabbit hole, or finding the passage to Narnia at the back of a wardrobe. Behind the run down looking entrance there was an ultra modern, ultra chic mall that put the Beverly Center to shame!!!
I know that this is seeing the world through my very American lens and I don’t mean this to be patronizing, but it made me really happy that Czechs can go to the mall and look for bargains and buy nice stuff for wear and for their homes (though, I do have to say that goods are much cheaper in the U.S. … No wonder foreign travelers arrive in huge tour buses to shop at outlet malls all over the U.S.) … Keeping in mind that I do realize that there really is more to life than shopping and consuming stuff …
We finished the night with yet another stroll through the Old Town and across the famous Charles Bridge. It was beginning to drizzle a bit which was nice as the bridge and town were about as uncrowded as they’ve been since we arrived.
It was another nice day …
And here are some pictures of things I rode today. I love trains and trams and subways!!!