Prague, Czech Republic

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Next stop - Bratislawa

Index page
Streets & Buildings
Historical Library
Streets above Castle
St. Vitus Cathedral
Cathedral inside
Castle Hill
Castle Wall
Prague (Hradcay) Castle
Changing of Guard
Shops in Castle Wall
Vltava River
Charles Bridge
Old Town Square
Astronomical Clock
River Boat Dinner
Radio Free Europe
Prague Museum
Wenceslas Square
Local Church
West Bank of Vltava River
Local sites


On December 6, we left Kroków for a 370 mile journey to Prague.  It was only a short trip to the border town was Cieszyn.  At the border there were long lines (like in miles of long lines) of commercial trucks waiting to cross into the Czech Republic. Most commercial trucks waited about 24 hours to cross the border.  We noticed many trains with full coal cars.  Once in the Czech Republic we traveled through the heart of Moravia and close to the capital city of Brno.  This area produces the best wines of the Czech Republic.  We continued south into Bohemia to have lunch in Olomouc.

We were informed that this was a very special day in Europe - the arrival of St. Nicholas with gifts for the children.  In discussing the Czech Republic, we were told there is up to 30% unemployment.  The factories that produced goods for the Soviet Union could not compete in international markets, so many factories were closed.  Many of the citizens expected miracles after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Consumer goods were subsidized by the government and 100% employment under the Soviet rule.  People are still learning about a market economy and capitalism.

We arrived after dark to the Hotel Don Giovanni which was east of the Old Town.  There was a beautiful Gingerbread House in the hotel lobby.

The next day our tour of the city started with the Historical Library and the Prague or Hradcary Castle.  This is a massive complex that includes palaces, museums, churches, and government buildings. There are some great views of the city from the castle area. While we were in the square when a VIP arrived with the changing of the guard.  We walked on the Golden Lane with shops built into the castle wall, and visited the gothic St. Vitus Church.  Inside were some beautiful stained glass windows.  In the afternoon we wandered around Old Town, the market square and the Christmas Market.  We walked over to Wenceslas Square where Kirsten entered a casino to ask for matches.  They issued her a casino ID card after viewing her passport.  She was the only person in our group with an official casino card.

That evening we had a wonderful dinner on a boat on the River Vltava.

The next day was sunny with temperature in the 20s and we were off to the National Museum for a lecture by Professor Jiri Amort on "40 Years of Communism to Free Market Economy."  While other European capitals were destroyed during WWII, Prague survived virtually intact.  Afterwards he took us on a tour of Old Town, Wencelas Square, and to see the famous 15th century astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. Every hour crowds assemble below the clock to watch Christ and the twelve apostles appear at two little windows followed by the skeleton of Death tolling the bell.  We then walked across the Charles Bridge and the Vltava River to visit Lesser Town.

The Radio Free Europe building was next to the National Museum.  After the 9/11terrorism in NYC, the streets around the building were blocked by armed troops.

The next day we used the subway and public bus to return to castle hill area and worked our way down the hill.  We witnessed the changing of the guard again, walked by the old castle wall and cobble stone streets. The Christmas markets had lots of marionettes and puppets on sale.  Many marionette shows were advertised.  This was the cheapest city for public transportation - about 35 cents per ride.  By Wenceslas Square we witnessed some male models in department store windows.  Everyone was just walking by the windows without realizing the models were live.  When we stopped to take pictures, a large crowd soon developed.  Kirsten found a large vegetarian restaurant that served cafeteria style.

The next day, Monday, we had a full day to ourselves.  We took the subway to the Vysehrad area where a huge bridge crosses the valley and the Vltava River.  Some old city walls still remain in the area.  There were some lovely and brightly painted houses in the valley and on the hillside.  We then walked across the bridge to the Panna Maria Church and monastery.  We visited St. Ludmila Church and the Christmas market set up in front of the church.  Walking around we found a great Italian restaurant where we had lunch.  We then realized we were close to the National Museum to again ride the subway back to our hotel.  Some local sites we saw on our own.

Next stop - Bratislawa, Slovakia