Sunday, September 22, 2013

HAVE A LAUGH ON US......................

Because we sure had a good laugh at ourselves!

What a day!  It was so NOT one of our "Best Travel Days Ever", but at least we can laugh at ourselves and just keep going.

This is how our day unfolded......

We got off to a slow start this morning, I was a little pokey and didn't feel like moving too fast.  We finally left the apartment at about 10:30, and we had our day all planned.

From our first day here in Prague, we had noticed a big beautiful church across the river, and we both wanted to see it.  It looked just amazing; it was so tall, and the twin spires were so ornate.  Yup--that was our goal today---to find that big, beautiful church.

This is the one!  The twin spires and pretty copper dome were just calling to us!

We started our journey with a little "miscalculation" on our Tram route, but recovered and eventually arrived out the stop we wanted, and walked across the Charles Bridge and into Lesser Town Square.  The church we'd wanted to visit earlier in the week was open, so we decided to stop in for a look before continuing on to "our church".

The Church of St Nicholas (there are 3 St. Nicholas churches in Prague) was built about 1750, on the site where there had been a Gothic Cathedral also dedicated to St. Nicholas.  It is described in our guidebooks as the most impressive High Baroque church in Prague.  And it was very impressive!

The Church of St. Nicholas--unassuming on the outside.

The interior was stunning--over the top ornate, but at the same time very tasteful.  We both loved the marble work--a combination of white, pink and soft green.  Lots of gold leaf and gilding, and of course several fresco.

We were able to climb up to the gallery level and enjoy seeing some of the architectural details up close:

Beautiful marble work:

After admiring the beauty of St. Nicholas Church, we hit the streets again--always keeping those two tall, beautiful spires in sight.  We wound our way through the narrow, pretty streets, and came to a steep hill and a set of stairs---lots of stairs.  So up we climbed, with me huffing and puffing the whole way.  It seemed like a thousand steps up that hill.  But I was determined--we really wanted to see that church!

At the bottom of the stairs looking up, up, up:

Almost to the top--looking out over the city:

At the top of the stairs there was a large square with lots of people milling about.  We could still see those beautiful spires--behind a gated and guarded entrance courtyard.

So in we went, walking across the courtyard and through a covered archway.  We found our selves right in front of that big, beautiful cathedral, and realized..............


We looked at each other, and just burst out laughing!  

Yup--we were standing in front of the beautiful St. Vitas Cathedral, located on the grounds of The Prague Castle.  How did we manage to get so confused?  Well---on our first visit to the castle and St Vitas we'd taken a different route; a tram that let us off near a different entrance because we wanted to  avoid the big "hill climb".  We just shook our heads, and walked back through the covered archway and back into the pretty square at the top of the steps.

A group of musicians were playing in the square.  We stopped to watch and listen for a while, they were really enjoying themselves, and they were great!

We saw a vendor selling hot wine--so of course we had to have a cup.  The nice young man explained that it was red wine, spices (cloves), and rum----mmmmmm, good.  I think it even made my poor tired knees feel better, purely medicinal of course!

At one side of the square, there's an entrance to "The Garden of Paradise", which is actually part of the castle grounds.  As this was NOT a part of the castle we'd already visited, we walked through. 

Looking down into "The Garden of Paradise"

We noticed this odd little machine on the grass, slowly criss-crossing the grass.  When it hit the edge, it turned and went in a different direction.  At first we thought it might be a remote controlled toy, but when we got close we read the writing on the top--it was a lawn mower!  No wonder the grass looks so perfect!  Wonder if we could buy one of these in Spudville?

 A few pictures from around the garden:

This is the wall around the castle complex.  Did I mention we'd been to the castle and St. Vitas before???

While we were enjoying the view from the garden, I noticed something familiar in the distance.  It's our flag, flying over a pretty white building!  I "Googled" when we got back to the apartment--and that's our U.S. Embassy, perched high up on Petrin Hill overlooking Prague.

After our stroll through the garden, we walked back down those thousand or so steps.  We'd decided the rest of our afternoon would be spent exploring the pretty streets in this area.

We stopped in a small restaurant for lunch--it was called the "Antique Cafe", and was filled with antique furniture and knick-knacks.  We ordered grilled sausage with sauerkraut, and shared a beer.

Some lovely buildings along the way:

The Italian Embassy:

The Romanian Embassy:

We turned town a small alleyway near the Charles Bridge, and came across this wonderful store:

I couldn't resist this wreath made with wine corks, David just shook his head.........
Yes, I could make it, but it would take us YEARS to drink that much wine!

We noticed a small street market, so took a stroll through.  It was a craft market, with vendors selling some very lovely and interesting pottery.  I didn't buy anything, but there were several pieces I'd love to bring home.

There was a small stage set up for entertainment, these women were all dressed is their finest traditional Czech outfits, singing Czech folk songs:

We walked back across Charles Bridge, just look at this beautiful view from the bridge:

By now we'd been walking for hours, so we picked a sidewalk cafe and sat down.  We rested our weary feet while enjoying a glass of wine, and laughed all over again about our morning's misadventures.

We asked the waitress for directions to Wenceslas Square, so we could catch a subway/tram to our dinner destination.  Before we'd sat down for a glass of wine, we thought we were walking in the right direction--but we were exactly backwards.  For a couple of "world travelers", we are seriously directionally impaired!

With her guidance we found Wenceslas Square and the subway stop and, using the directions that I'd written down this morning (nearest tram stop to the restaurant), we made the somewhat complicated subway/tram trip.   After a few blocks of wandering around we eventually found our restaurant.  We had a "kind of nice" dinner, sharing two entrees and beers.

A platter of local specialties--roast duck, pork, beer sausage, dumplings and something called "Prague Sparrow".I'm sure it wasn't sparrow--it was too big!

Venison in a rose hip and cranberry sauce, served with bacon dumplings.  The sauce was wonderful, wish I could get the recipe!

While we enjoyed the food, the service was beyond bad.  Surly and unfriendly,  they got our beer order wrong, and argued with us about it. If our waiter had put his armpit in my face one more time (while setting beer, food and utensils on the table)  I think I might have bitten him!!  When it came time to pay (only about $30) the waiter asked for a tip!  I did something I RARELY, RARELY do-- I didn't tip.  I politely declined his suggested 10% tip, which started quite a scene!  He even called other servers over, asking what the problem had been.  He was quite aggressive, insisting several times on a 10% tip, but I stood my ground!  He was not a happy camper.  (By the way--from what I've read, tipping is NOT customary in The Czech Republic--I think they are used to asking for it from tourists.)  

When we left to walk back to the tram stop, we realized that we were only 2 blocks from Wenceslas Square,  where we'd started our complicated subway/tram journey to get to the restaurant.  We'd taken the loooong way around, and again we just had to laugh at ourselves.  We need to wear a compass around our necks, I think!

It was a nice night for a stroll, though.  Wenceslas Square is beautiful at night, with all the lovely old buildings lit up:


What a day it had been.  We'd seen some beautiful and interesting sights, even if we walked and climbed a few extra miles!

Keep your fingers cross that our "directional gyros" are in better working order for tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, beautiful pictures. The churches are amazing---lol always good to be able to laugh at yourselves. Your meals looked good, too bad about the bad service for your dinner especially since you made a special point of going to that particular restaurant. Good for you on standing firm about the tip.