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:


Karen MEG said...

So beautiful, nice that you were able to see the city sans kids (I'm sure they were having a grand old time while you were away too). Prague is a place I'd love to visit too - Ian went there a couple of years ago. Should have gone with him, sigh....

SoccerMomofTwo said...

Wow what a great excursion. Love the pics and getting away sans children... a plus at times too! Glad yas had a good time

morag said...

Prague is now definetly on my list of places I want to visit. Looks like a beautiful place to explore without children(even with). How was the food? Was the $2 beer as good as the $4 water?

Angela said...

Prague is in my top 3 list of favourite destination. You must find and try their chocolates, too!

Family Adventure said...

Karen: You missed out...seriously, next time he goes ANYWHERE, go with him!! :)
Soccer mom: Thanks - it was wonderful. Especially without the kids - although I have to say, when I finally saw them again today, it was wonderful. You forget all about the whininess and only remember the cute stuff!! Absence makes the heart grow fonder - especially for the kiddies, I think.
Morag - The food was AMAZING. I had very low expectations, expecting goulash, sausages and the like, but it was just fantastic. We had the best Asian Fusion I have ever had. Tuna tatare out of this world...
Angela: I missed their chocolate...but I might try to squeeze in another trip, and will make a concerted effort next time. Just for you! If you are lucky, I might even save some for ya :)

Hae Yung said...

Your parents are so great to take care of your kids.

I am so glad that you are taking advantage of being so close, to so many interesting cities. I definitely want to go Prague, one day soon. The pictures looked amazing. I am assuming that Mike took it. He seemed very particular in angles, light, composition... Prague seem to offer interesting architecture, sights and great food. Everything sounds wonderful.

Now that you are back, are you planning any new trips?

Family Adventure said...

HY, next time we go to Prague together. And we'll have some chocolate for Angela. What do you think?
You know the camera is attached to Mike's hip. He carries it around like others carry a bum bag. A good look :) Seriously, though, he does take good pictures, and I always end up using his. Mine just do not look as good. Darn it.

Hae Yung said...

I know first hand how particular he is about getting the right shot. I remember Mike stopping many times to take the pictures as clouds shade certain area and sun shining on another area, the boat in certain angle so the red buoy won't show. Very particular but great results. He definitely has an artistic flair. I discovered that I am not crafty or have any artistic flair. Darn.

Family Adventure said...

You definitely know him too well...
Maybe Daniel can take over the crafty projects. Isn't he artistically inclined?! It's only fair that he plays to his strengths. Then you can be helpful!