Alas, I took pictures of this part but for some reason my computer is being fussy and not allowing me to download them to my computer and post here. Until I figure out what’s going on, on my end of things this will be a picture-light post. There are a few towards the bottom but not many more for now. Sorry!
Our last day in Vienna was very relaxing. We had a few hours before we needed to check out of our hotel and hop on a train so mom and I went to the Naschmarkt and walked through the different vendors, stalls, and restaurants. The air was filled with the smells of hot pastries, curry seasoning, flowers, and coffee. The market has so many things to see and taste and we ended up finding cactus fruits which reminded us of home as did the cactus yesterday. It’s so funny to see these things that are considered exotic to some but common place to others. It was a very nice way to end our time in Vienna.
After checking out of the hotel we got sandwiches at the local shop and hopped on a train bound for Prague where I will be for the next few months.
Prague – as we crossed into the Czech Republic my excitement seemed to grow in inverse relation to the distance between the city and I. Sandwiches eaten, book read, and no wifi on the train all I could do was wait and think. I realized that I’m ill prepared for the coming winter months and would need to get a heavier winter coat and some shoes. I thought about what I will be studying, wished I could access the internet and find out what books I will need. I dreamed about what I will see and experience.
Sufficient to say, it was a long and tiring train ride with me frantically worrying about things that I cannot possibly control. Story of my life – I worry.
Finally in Prague mom and I made our way to our hotel. Backpacks and carry on we walked the distance from the tram and our hotel along the river. The sidewalk and roads are covered in cobblestone but not uniform cobblestone. It felt like there was a sale on tiles but there wasn’t enough for the city planner to cover the entire city so he decided to hodge-podge the different tiles and styles together in a quasi-mosaic effect.
I know that’s probably not what happened but walking the streets and seeing the different types and styles of tiles it’s a half-believable story.
Tired from our day we rested as dad arrived from the airport with the beast – my trusty luggage with all my winter clothes for my longer stay in Prague. His journey was a long one, last week he was in Japan for work, and then he was in Arizona for a few days before flying into Prague. When asked if he even knew what time or day it was he just shook his head.
We had dinner at a local place and called it an early night.
Rising early, mom and I (who were accustomed to rising early for a full day and are fairly well adjusted to the time zone) walked to a coffee shop in the hopes of finding a cup of coffee and some breakfast. When asked if anyone spoke English we were greeted with a very noncommittal shrug.
After a little confusion we got our coffee and some pastries. The coffee shop was ok – nothing to write home about but decent – but the shop was decorated in books and they even sold some used books in the store! Very cute.
Caffeinated and ready to start the day we went back to the hotel hoping to find a livelier dad. Our luck held and he was moving.
We got ready and headed to the Prague Castle. It is now the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic and dates back to the 9th century. As different monarchs and rulers add on to the castle complex new examples of modern architecture are illustrated creating a mix-mash of different stylistic elements and architectural periods.
Wandering around this UNESCO World Heritage site is best done with an audio guide to better understand all the symbolic, cultural, and historical elements dotted around the grounds. We spend a good 4 or 5 hours looking around and learning, including a good bit of time spent in the Lobkowicz Palace exploring their personal collection of paintings, weapons, rooms, musical instruments, and their personal family history narrated by the current family descendants who fled WWII and the fall to Nazi Germany and returned only to be forced to flee again with the advent of communism.
The Lobkowicz Palace is really interesting as is the family’s history and it all sits on the Prague Castle grounds. Personally, the highlight was seeing the family’s original manuscripts and scores from Beethoven and Mozart – Beethoven dedicated his 3rd, 5th, and 6th symphonies to the 7th Lobkowicz Prince.
After the castle we stopped at a deli and bought supplies for lunch and breakfast tomorrow. We briefly stopped at the hotel to re-group before heading back out to Old Town.
Old Town is a mix between a charming medieval city center and a bustling modern city. It’s both charming and hectic. We looked around at the stores and shops and meandered around vendors. A quick dinner and more walking about before we decided to go up the Astronomical Tower in city hall.
Several long stair cases later we were at the top and had 360 degree views of the city and got to watch just as the sun went down. Beautiful views of the city and looking down at the plebeian crowds below it’s easy to block out the noise and look out at the roof tops.
Back on the streets we listened to the musicians, watched a man creating beautiful shinny bubbles, and a comedian or fire dancer – the verdict is still out on what we saw. Tired and ready to head back we took the long way back to the hotel and stopped at Charles Bridge as the last lights of the sun were vanishing from the sky.
Walking along the river we watched boat cruses pass by and a few more performers. We passed cafes tucked under bridges and statues to important people long forgotten. We passed beggars kneeling with their hands stretched out holding plastic cups. We passed a city that is both breathe taking beautiful and heart breaking broken.