Thursday, January 10, 2008


We went to Prague, with our friend Cathy from Michigan, expecting it to be our most challenging european trip to date. After all, we were visiting a place where we couldn't even begin to pronounce the street names, let alone ask for something in a store or restaurant. And the Czech Republic is known for a cold surliness, right?

Pictured above: Tyn church (Rochelle calls it "Evil Disney"), Powder Gate

To our surprise, it was more english-friendly than many other european cities. And while not everyone was happy-smiley-friendly, it wasn't all grumbles, either. The food is fairly cheap (in european terms anyway) but hearty. More pork knuckles and potatoes than you can imagine, not that we're complaining.

Pictured above: Tyn church at night, Astronomical Clock, and the crowd waiting for the clock to strike the hour

Good thing, because what we were grumbling about was the weather. After a bit of sun on our first day, it was grey dreariness the rest of the week. I mean, we expected some of that -- it was November after all -- but we are starting to think that mother nature is hell-bent on having every european capital trip we take be under a blanket of grey gloom.

Pictured above: The Charles Bridge, day and evening

There is a definite charm to Prague, despite the countless number of souvenir and glass shops that dominate the old town. The bohemian architecture is very distinctive, even more so for being mixed in with the more familiar european styles of gothic, neo-classic, and art nouveau.

Pictured above: scenes from the Jewish Cemetery

Each area of the city has such a distinctive feel: old town with it's touristic hubbub, the relative quiet of the jewish quarter, the Vinohrady (with it's Paris-like feel of endless continental-style apartment blocks), and the Vysehrad cemetery, where we found the graves of the famous composers Smetana and Dvorak.

Pictured above: from the Vysehrad graveyard (Dvorak's grave on right)

Our day trip to Kutna Hora started out with an annoying delay due to a mixup with some of the passengers. The trip was worth it -- we saw snow on part of our route and really enjoyed the gothic cathedral which is the centerpiece of the town.

Pictured above: St. Barbara and view from Kutna Hora

Our tourguide was accidentally hilarious ... she started every sentence with "I would like to say..." and rushed us around as we tried to make up for lost time. She did pull off a minor miracle in getting the Sedlec Ossuary to stay open an hour past normal closing time, and we're glad she did. It's an amazing sight to see a church decorated with the bones of over 40,000 skeletons.

Pictured above: from the Ossuary

There's a lot to remember from this trip: the company of a friend, the sight of the crowd at the astronomical clock (and the following "that's it?" expressions), the joyful playing of a quartet at Prague Castle, and the unique architecture.

Pictured above: in the area of the Prague Castle

Join us in 2 weeks for a recap of our Christmastime trip to Spain.