02.09.2011 - 02.09.2011
The Prague airport was clean and easy to navigate. We got our bags, got some money, and got a 24-hour public transportation ticket and map. We took bus 119 in to town and the bus was packed by the time we hit Dejvicka. We hopped on the green train line, made one transfer, and then popped out about a block from our hotel. Marie and I had different flights from our friends, but we walked to the hotel hoping we could drop our luggage. Luckily we were able to check in. We were staying at Hotel u Medvidku, where the building has been around since the 1400s. We had two rooms, so we took the pullout couch in the main room. We dropped our stuff, freshened up, left a note for our friends, and took off to explore.
We walked back to the metro station and got on tram 22, which dropped us off at the castle. Since we hadn’t toured a castle yet, we bought the short ticket. It was already after 15:00 and most sights here closed at 17:00, so we had to hurry. First up was the cathedral. You could go inside the cathedral without a ticket, but you couldn’t walk around much. They punched our ticket and we walked around the inside. There were lots of wonderful stained glass windows. We followed the guide by Rick Steves, but we also listened in on a tour. We were disappointed that we didn’t find the Wenceslas Chapel, so we asked about it. It was actually closed for some unknown reason, so we didn’t get to see it. Apparently it has jewel encrusted wallpaper.
Next we visited the Old Royal Palace, where you can’t take photos unless you have a permit. There really wasn’t much to see here. The large hall was pretty cool because it was a big, gothic hall. It was large enough to have jousts in here. None of the rooms really had anything to look at. A couple of paintings, some info signs, maybe a piece of furniture here and there. It was actually pretty boring. Really boring. We went outside on a balcony to look out over Prague, and then left.
The next stop on the ticket was the Basilica of St. George. Also a strange stop. It was very small with not much to look at. We were in and out in about 5 minutes. By this time, we were tired, so we sat at a little café and ordered a piece of cake and iced mint tea. We didn’t quite had the exchange rate down, and it ended up being pretty expensive. But oh my, that tea was delicious!
We finished up a few minutes before 6 pm, so we walked over to watch the hourly changing of the guard. That was maybe the most interesting thing up here, after the cathedral. We found the guards to be a little fidgety at the end of their shift. It wasn’t much of a guard changing, but it was fun to watch. Then we decided to walk back. The gardens seemed to close at 6, so we didn’t walk through there. We walked over through the royal gardens and the summer palace, then back along the tram route.
We were aiming for the Charles Bridge and had to do a little wandering before we found it. But then we were hungry, so we ate at a little café along the river and watched the boat tours going by. It got dark while we ate, so we only saw the Charles Bridge at night. Or rather, we didn’t really see the bridge, just parts of it that were lit up. It was pretty crowded, with lots of tourists up there. Several statues were lit up, and the castle was very pretty all lit up on the hillside. You can climb up the bridge towers, but they were closed by the time we got there.
Once we got across the bridge, it was a little crazy. Lots of tourists, lots of tourist shops, and lots of people looking to party. We were going to look for the astronomical clock, but weren’t quite sure where it was. The crowd was moving as a solid mass, but we didn’t know where they were going. After a couple of blocks, we jumped out of the herd and checked the map. We were only a block or so from the hotel and it was getting late, so we just went back to the hotel.