We got a later than usual start on the day but redeemed it decently by finding a fun little café in new town called I Need Coffee! The name was fitting and they even made an Americano with ice!
Dad found an interesting tour that explored Prague during WWII and I must say it was really fascinating. Our guide was born and raised in Prague and could speak with a greater depth to some of the cultural and historical changes that Prague has experienced.
She took us through the streets of Prague stopping occasionally to point out a building or street that played a significant role or to show a picture of it during Nazi reign. She also did her best to explain the cultural make up of Czechoslovakia and why the country no longer remains one. The tour briefly touched on Reinhard Heydrich – the butcher of Prague and one of Hitler’s right hand men – who was assassinated in Prague by a Czech and Slovak. Apparently a featured film is in the works called Anthropoid and should be fairly accurate historically.
We were also allowed to explore some cellars that were once at street level but were raised due to constant flooding – now they act as cellars or underground restaurants but during WWII they served to send information and convey people without drawing attention.
All in all interesting but serious stuff. To even out the day we went to an excellent restaurant, ordered a big meal, and drooled slightly over the mousse (which we ordered and enjoyed in the beautiful Prague sun).
The next part of our day was a free walking tour. It was interesting and we learned some new things about the history and some lesser buildings we weren’t aware of but we had seen or learned of around half the things discussed during the tour. Hindsight being what it is – we should have taken this tour first to learn a little about the city then done the other sightseeing things.
We did stop and learn about Jan Palach who set himself on fire to bring national and international attention to the tightening of government power on the people and remains a very powerful Czech cultural figure. His death became a cultural symbol and there are a few monuments for him around the city.
In a sadly odd parallel we briefly learned about Jan Hus whose status stands in Old Town Square and was a very early Christian reformer who thought that people should be able to read the bible in their own language and began translating it into Czech. He lived and died before Luther and is considered to be one of the first reformers to the church. Sadly, he was burnt at the stake for heresy and his ashes scattered in the river. There are some clear parallels beyond the sharing of these two men’s names and their deaths and it’s interesting to note that both men are still considered iconic to the Czech identity.
It rained a little during the tour but I was able to use it as an opportunity to share my umbrella and get to know some of the other people on the tour.
After the end of the tour we changed over our money and wandered in and out of stores. We found a little restaurant near the Charles Bridge with a nice patio that served good food and had live jazz music wafting over.
More walking about and listening to various performers along the river before we eventually called it a night. Tomorrow I move into the dorms and mom and dad leave for Croatia – it had really been a very lovely trip.