Lesson for today: even on days without biking, route modifications are often necessary.
Prague is apparently popular on the tourist circuit in Europe. Very popular. We first intended to see Prague’s Jewish Quarter this morning, with a goal of being at the main “starting point” at 9 am when they opened. However, I discovered a concert we wanted to attend tonight (more on that later). We could have purchased tickets online–but they required printing. Since we have no computer or printer, a trip to the box office was required, which of course does not open until 10 am. No problem, we thought, we’ll just go there first and start later.
We took the tram into town. Prague has a really nice public transit system and a three-day pass can be had for less than $15. We found our way to the ticket office, acquired tickets, then watched the Astronomical Clock in Old Town square chime 11 am (along with dozens of people and tour groups), then made our way to the Pinkas Synagogue to start the tour. Whoa, now we know why Rick (Steves) says to go first thing in the morning. The line stretched outside the gates and down the street a bit and seemed to be moving at a glacial pace. We opted for lunch and an itinerary change instead.
Prague Castle from Charles Bridge
Since the Prague Castle was also on the recommended list, we decided to hike up there after lunch. This also involved crossing the famed Charles Bridge. Despite the fact that it is October (and not super warm), the bridge was filled with tourists and vendors hawking cheap art and trinkets. The road up to the castle was also quite busy with walkers, even though it is a pretty steep walk. Perhaps most disappointing, the cafe recommended by Rick Steves at the top of this climb has now become (wait for it)…
We toured the free areas of the castle, which Maureen noted was more palace-y than castle-y. Highlights were the changing of the guard and the stained glass in the St. Vitus cathedral–some by Czech art nouveau master Alfonso Mucha and some done in almost mosaic style with brilliant colors.
Castle Entrance with guards
It was now mid-afternoon, so you would be right if you guessed that our next objective was coffee. We had a lovely cappuccino accompanied by a delectable piece of dark chocolate at Cafe Kaficko, the first non-smoking cafe in Prague.
We stopped for a fish to cook for dinner on the way “home” to our rented flat. The fish was the second “route modification” of the day. The oven here is a combination microwave/convection oven. The operation of this device is not obvious, but Maureen managed to find an English manual online. However, when we set the oven to “fish” (yes, a little fish symbol) and the desired temperature and appropriate weight, we noted some arcing inside the oven. Oops. Not wanting to fry the over, we decide to fry the fish. Further perusal of the manual revealed that fish is cooked on the microwave setting (why this is so was not addressed).
After dinner we rushed back to the tram to get to our concert. We were a little behind schedule, but managed to find the theatre and be in our gallery-level seats (three floors up) before 7 pm. We saw the Prague Chamber Ballet with the Zemlinsky Quartet in a performance entitled 3 Czech Quartets. The venue was the Estates Theater, where Mozart directed many works, including the premiere of Don Giovanni. The theatre is more narrowly U-shaped than many more modern venues. As a result, people on the sides are really on the sides. Even where we sat, near the “corner” of the U, we needed to lean forward to see the dancers on the stage. Fortunately, the railings on which the audience leans are padded! I most enjoyed the music of the first piece (Dvorak’s Slavonic Quartet(#10)) and the dancing of the second piece (Black Mirror).
Inside Estates Theatre
Tomorrow we will try to be to the Jewish Quarter at 9 am.