Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prague in Springtime


That's my best excuse for not updating the blog earlier. It seems like the past month + has been jammed with activities, so I'll blame it on that.

But let's rewind to late May when we took a great weekend trip to Prague in the Czech Republic. As we've done in other cities, we had booked a small apartment in the center of the city. Upon our arrival, things were a bit amiss: A broken bed, cleaning still not completed from previous guests, and a refrigerator that was inoperable. But these were our biggest inconveniences of the entire trip, which was mostly filled with some great sightseeing and activities. The weather cooperated famously. Warm temps and sunshine greeted us every day.
The chronology of our days is a bit fuzzy, so let's just run down the list. Exploring the city square was great, and the fact that it was a 1-minute walk from our apartment made it even better. The small winding streets of the center of Prague were magical. Communist-era architecture is still evident, but the old buildings of the city pre-date Marx and Lenin by centuries. On one day, we were lucky to catch a folk dance/music/singing festival in the square that featured performers from across all of Eastern Europe. At times, it was hillarious, and at other times, exceptional.

One of Prague's biggest tourist traps, the big glockenspiel clock, was a big disappointment (if you're ever there, don't waste your time waiting for the song or the little dancing figurines to appear), but we didn't invest much time there.

Eating lunch on the rooftop of a central hotel, with resplendent views of the city was one of the highlights. The Karlov Most (Charles Bridge) was another highlight. The bridge has been closed to auto traffic for decades, and is now for pedestrians only. Yes, it's certainly touristy, but still unique enough to visit, whether you're taking in the artist stalls, the elaborate statues that line the bridge, street musicians, or staring at the never-ending parade of tourists from around the globe.

We didn't get the memo before we arrived in Prague: The mullet hairstyle is still quite en vogue at Eastern Europe's finest hair salons and barbershops. Business in the front, party in the back, baby.

The Prague Palace was another jewel. During the first of our two excursions there, we just enjoyed the views of the city from the south walls. But our second trip was much more interesting. We watched the changing of the palace guard at noon (an extra-heavy dose of pomp and circumstance), and Cole in particular was enthralled with the stoic sentries posted at all of the gates.
Another remarkable sight was the old Jewish cemetery. Since space was scarce in the Jewish section of the city, the dead were buried in layers (up to 12 layers in some sections), and an estimated total of about 200,000 are buried here. Today, a maze of 12,000 tombstones remain.

Prague's public transportation system still needs a bit of work, as the trams can be unreliable and don't service all of the city. But generally, we had no problems getting around. One way we explored was renting a pedal boat on the river, which the kids really enjoyed.

We enjoyed a marvelous birthday lunch for Stacey on the banks of the river one day, and also were able to take a cable car to one of the city's peaks and explore a large park and a fun "house of mirrors" there.

Overall, we were struck by the beauty of the city and the architecture, along with the friendly attitudes and good service we encountered. Another great adventure for the Pressler family!

Click HERE for a look at all of our photos from Prague.

1 comment:

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Are you sure you live there..always looks like you are just on a great vacation!!!!:)