15 Sep 2007
Czech it out!
Friday morning, Mike and I hopped on the first flight out of Oslo to Prague. Boyless, courtesy of my parents, who offered to take Christopher and Benjamin to the cottage to stack firewood. Hey, I've already explained the Norwegian need to stack firewood - might as well get them started young!
A mere 2.5 hours later, and we had left the gleaming new airport and were on a local bus heading into town. I love this element of living in Europe, a couple of hours travel in either direction, and you'll find yourself in a totally different country.
We'd booked ourselves into a small boutique hotel in the Old Jewish Town, a short walk from the city centre. It was in a beautifully restored, old building, with a distinctly rosy colour, prompting Mike to refer to it solely as "The Pink Palace". Lucky for me, the hotel was very posh and nothing like the sordid image that name conjures up.
Depositing our things at the hotel, we immediately went out to explore. It was amazing to be able to just walk around with no kiddies complaining of sore feet, thirst, hunger or boredom with old buildings, new buildings, or buildings in general.
After a quick look at the Old Town Square with its famous Astronomical Clock, we had a fabulous lunch at Square, a hip new restaurant in the town centre. I was excited that we were able to enjoy the gorgeous weather and eat outside, while Mike found another reason to be thrilled:
You're looking at a 2 dollar pint of beer, and a 4 dollar bottle of water!
Prague is stunning as it straddles the river Vltava (nope, I have no idea how to pronounce that), with medieval castles, towers and cobblestoned streets everywhere you look. Here's a view from the observation tower on the Petřín hill, a near 1:5 copy of the Parisian Eiffel tower, which was our first destination of the day:
Prague castle can be seen in the background of this picture, and is one of the largest castles in the world, dating back to the 9th century. The castle is situated on a hillside overlooking the city of Prague:
The castle grounds consist of several buildings used by officials today, including the Czech President, as well as a basilica, a cathedral, a convent and several chapels. Most of these are open to the public.
The cathedral in particular is an amazing testament to architects and builders of the past, with dimensions unlike anything I've seen before. As much as one might feel it to be "over the top", I could not help but appreciate the workmanship that went into creating something of this magnitude.
Prague is famous for the mix of architectural styles evident throughout the downtown area, which includes romanesque, gothic and baroque influences.
Certainly, the buildings are impressive, but the Czechs are not without a sense of humour. Just look at this "Fred and Ginger" building we found: