Saturday, 29 June 2013

'Czech'-ing in #3......and finally!


Part three - you might need to grab a tea/coffee before you start! I make no apologies for the amount of photos here - it was so hard having to choose which ones to include! ;-p

So, the last leg of the journey (see previous two posts for the earlier 'adventures'!) saw us travel from Vienna, over the border back into the Czech Republic and north to Prague.

To break the journey we stopped just over the border at what I can only describe as the most bizarre service-area ever:

(yes - that's a real jet, welded to the side of the building!)



Gobsmacking, isn't it! ;-p

Anyhow, rested (?) and refreshed we set off up the motorway to Prague city, avoiding many of the flooded roads.

Arriving early evening we dropped our bags at the hotel and set out for a quick explore while it was still light outside; we didn't venture far, but we found an amazing bar with live music, called La Republica  :
(the band were sitting on the raised platform in the centre of the picture)
We returned here a couple of times as the ambience and food were excellent:

Someone was very happy to sample the Pilsner Urquell!

They serve it fresh from the 'tank'! (those 'torpedo'-shaped things!)


So - our tour of  Prague started just a few minutes' walk away, at the 15th Century 'Powder Tower' :
Built on the site of one of the early medieval gates into the old city, this used to store gunpowder!

Passing through you soon emerge, via some winding streets filled with old shops, into the main square:


It looks like something out of a fairytale! The large tower, slightly to the left in the picture, houses the famous Astronomical Clock:


Created in 1410 it is still working, with frequent restorations of course! As the clock strikes the hour, the little doors above the astronomical dial open and the twelve Apostles 'parade' through, together with various animated figures lower down. The story goes, that the town officials were delighted with this 'wonder' and jealously guarded the secret of it's construction by putting out the eyes of its creator, to stop him producing copies for other towns. He got his own back by secretly disabling part of the mechanism! Later it was restored and now it is one of the main tourist attractions. Here's a video I found on Youtube, so you get a better idea:



Other sights in the square include:
The Týn Church

Beautiful wall paintings and decorative architecture on the buildings



The view from the café, where we watched the world go by...
....while we ate this!
.....mmmmmm!

Of course, when in Prague one needs to visit Wenceslas Square:
(although, it's more of a rectangle than a square! ;-p)

Through the winding streets we finally came to the Charles Bridge:


Normally only open to pedestrians, this medieval bridge was closed at the start of our visit because of fears about the raging waters, but after inspections we were allowed to cross it the next day:
This is one end of it....

...and approaching the other end!
You can see why they were concerned - this was after the waters had subsided a bit!


As I've already mentioned, the effects of the flooding had curtailed some of our activities, one of which was an evening dinner cruise along the Vltava river. Alas, not only did the swirling waters of the swollen river make this impossible, it also meant that with the water level rising the boats could not actually get under the bridges!

Instead, we went to the Folklore Garden - not on our itinerary but our tour guides arranged it at short notice. It required a trip on the metro (their escalators are so much faster than in the UK - you have to jump on, then run for your life at the end!!) and then a further tram ride. Faced with a soggy evening, (the rain had settled in for a day or two) we didn't quite know what to expect - but we were pleasantly surprised!


As much food and drink as you could manage,
 they just kept topping-up everything unless you stopped them!

Pork, chicken, pickled cabbage and root vegetables followed a hearty vegetable soup - there was a wonderful apple pudding, but it didn't survive long enough to be photographed!

...and all the while we were entertained with traditional music, songs and dancing:



I think this was much better than a riverboat cruise - it gave us a real flavour of Czech culture!

....and finally!

Next to the Powder Tower stands the Municipal Hall:



This beautifully decorated building is among the many iconic Art Nouveau-style buildings in Prague. We were very fortunate that our visit coincided with the start of a World tour exhibition of one of Prague's famous 'sons' - Alphonse Mucha - displayed in this building. For those of you not familiar with his work, here's a few pictures from the internet (no photography allowed in the exhibition)

   

Ivan Lendl, the former number one tennis star, began to collect Mucha's work in 1982, amassing a comprehensive portfolio over three decades  - 116 of the 119 total posters created by the artist. (of the remaining three - one is 'lost', the other two are in museums in New York and Hamburg).

Lendl decided that the works deserved a wider appreciation than being housed in his own home in America, so the collection is on tour - with the stipulation that it must have its premier in the Czech Republic, as both he and the artist Mucha were born there.

I feel very privileged to have seen these wonderful posters as they have never before been on public display in totality; if you get the chance do go and see them - you will not be disappointed!

-oOo-

....and that's the end of my 'holiday snaps' for now............but upcoming is a trip to New England in September! :-)

10 comments:

  1. No apologies necessary; thanks for taking us on the tour. The posters are magnificent. I can see the swooning if an errant one came up on Antiques Roadshow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comprehensive tour of Prague, Sue. I enjoyed it very much. My brother and his wife and some friends visited Prague a couple of years ago but since they don't blog and don't take pictures (I KNOW!!!) I didn't get any real flavor of their trip. I'm going to send them a link to your post to show them WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN YOU VISIT A NEW PLACE. Ha!

    I doubt it will influence them much. :(

    I would love to have seen the Alphone Mucha posters 'live' myself.

    What a gorgeous city. I have a soft spot for the Czech Republic especially when I remember how the Czechs were betrayed by the west at the outset of WWII.

    ReplyDelete
  3. P.S. I hope you have your 'what is going on here?' story ready for debut tomorrow. I hope, I hope. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Sue .. what a fabulous trip you've been on .. I was in Prague in 1974 or thereabouts for an ongoing trip to the Brno Trade Fair .. now in Slovakia .. all the signs were in the crylic language .. I was young ... and made it to the bridge - but was terrified of the Iron Curtain etc ...

    Wenceslas Square - I think that's its name .. was shrouded in very heavy plastic after the 1968 invasion .. at least the Astronomical Clock survived, as I see the Crown Jewels ..

    Lovely trip and I really must go back sometime .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your pictures give a real feel for the beauty of the city. I loved the clock's chime.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sue this was a fascinating trip and so well documented by you. You could have added another 50 photos and I would not have tired of seeing them.

    Your visit makes me want to visit.

    Thanks,

    Chuck

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you so much for this fabulous tour.
    I almost made it there.I met a beautiful young girl from Canda
    who's Grandmother lived in Prague. We traveled Greece.
    Then my Legs started to swell so I went to Venice, where the Hotel was so good to me, They packed my legs in ice. I love Italy the best.. That is some awesome clock. yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  8. The buildings are fascinating. Hope you are cooler than
    I am, we are having some kind of heat wave.
    Great tour, thanks.
    yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  9. I see these fabulous buildings and wonder why in America,
    we just tear them down. It would cost a fortune to replace all that art work. I can remember our 3 Gorgeous Theaters in Houston, I guess it is just greed for the property. They tried to Tear down the Art Deco Hotels in Miami, but we fought them.

    ReplyDelete