Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Time: 9:06 pm local time (3:06 pm EST)
Place: Prague, Czech Republic
One more short post for today (though once again the internet is being dumb and I’m not sure I can post it tonight).
We left our hostel about 7:30 this morning to get over to the train in time for our 8:30 train. We were on the train until 1:30 this afternoon. It was long, but very manageable. I napped on and off, listening to music (King’s Heralds, Derks Bentley, PDQ Bach, etc.).
We arrived in Prague and made our way to our hotel, the Atlantic, which is an actual nice hotel (instead of the iffy hotels or hostels we’ve been staying in). The best part is that I only have one roommate—Joel—instead of the usual three (so a total of four).
We had about 45 minutes in which to get settled before leaving for part one of the walking tour of the city. We walked downtown on our way to the Jewish Quarter. We saw a municipal building, a tower which once held the gunpowder for the city, and signs for a deluxe WC. I was tempted to pay the money to see exactly what makes them deluxe.
St. James’ Church was next on our tour, and our tour guide, Renata, told us a great story about it. It goes that a thief broke into the church late one night to try to steal one of the sculptures. He was apprehended and then taken to the town square. His arm was cut off, and then hung in the church as a warning for others. Around four hundred years later it’s still there, and I got to see it.
The church was simply beautiful inside, though simple isn’t a good word for it. It was decorated in a wonderful Baroque style, which means that there is some sort of decoration on most of the surfaces. There are frescoes (or just normal paintings) on the ceilings, and beautiful wood carvings around the center. In the back there is a beautiful organ, which (thanks to Dr. Laughlin’s fearlessness) I might get to play tomorrow. More on that if and when it happens.
There was another statue, this time of St. Agatha (we think). The legend was that the Czech Republic would be granted its freedom of self-determination once she was made a saint. She wasn’t sainted until 1989, but within a matter of days the preliminaries of Czech freedom began to happen. It was within a year that they were independent.
We continued to walk on our tour and came to a Jewish synagogue with a statue of the Czech author Kafka out front. He is sitting on the shoulders of a headless statue (actually, it looks like a suit without someone wearing it). Taking pictures was Verboten, though I do believe that Kaiti took a few. Inside the synagogue was a small museum honoring the Jewish Czechs who were killed or suppressed during World War II.
We walked to another synagogue, this one was, I believe, the oldest in the city, though at this time it has been transformed into a shrine of memory for the Czech Jews. I want to say there were almost 80,000 names written on the walls of that building. That is considered holy enough ground to require all the males to don a yarmulke, which I kept afterwards.
We walked through the old cemetery, which dates from the early 1400s, though it was filled by the mid-1700s. There are over 100,000 bodies. It’s a fairly small parcel of land, so they would bury one on top of another. In places there are bodies 11 and 12 layers deep. It was a very nice cemetery, but I was surprised at how worn and aged it looked.
We passed the famous Astronomical clock in Old Town, which dates from the 14th century and still works even today. I’m anxious to go back and see it when it rings (every hour on the hour). It’s amazing how complicated it is. It tells the date, the time, the phases of the moon and sun, and all sorts of other details.
We passed a little stand selling Trdelník (and I have no clue how to pronounce it, so do your best). They appeared to be crust dough (though shaped differently) dipped in cinnamon and baked. I thought Grandma would enjoy one. Maybe I’ll get one in her honor later on.
Renata left us at about that point, but Dr. Wohlers took us up to Wenceslas square toward the national museum (more of a natural history museum—lots of rocks). Luckily we didn’t have to go in. In front of the museum is a 19th century statue of the Good King—who has become a patron saint of Prague.
From there Joel and I walked back to the hotel, then went out for supper to the Italian restaurant right across the street where I paid about $8.50 for a very lovely plate of spaghetti.
I’m getting sleepy (and am done writing about what happened today anyway), so I’m going to bed!
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.