The pictures on this page do not really follow the order of
events, I'm afraid. I added a few comments from John and Sondra where
they seemed fitting. Sometimes there are no pictures to accompany them. -P.
John: Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009. Daylight savings time, a week ahead of the US. Sondra and I went to St. Lazarus Catholic Church, hard by our metro and tram stop. The service was in Czech but every bit like the Episcopal services we attend here. Except the priest drank all the wine and we got none! We found Missy’s family at the tram stop and boarded the No. 22 for a ride across the river and up the hill, passing the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. People got on and off; the tram stayed full. Sondra pointed out a cute, young Goth girl dressed in black skirt, corset, lace see-through blouse and a black bra. The girl carried on an animated conversation with a fellow who I think just happened to be standing by her. It was an interesting contrast, the girl’s sweet face and her costume. We got off at the stop closest to the Strahovska Cloister.
The first thing we saw was a larger than life statue of two famous Czech astronomers, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. The building behind must have been a university. After a little indecision on which way to go we found the gate to the Srahovska compound. A small church by the entry had an art show going on. A larger church attached to the cloister was closed and we could only look through the glass at the baroque decoration. Around in back we found a lovely garden, bordered by grapevines, and overlooking the heart of Prague. We made a leisurely stop, enjoying sights on both sides of the river. The spires of St. Vitus cathedral were on the left. The modern television tower was far to the right and a large park lay below and afforded an unobstructed view of Prague. Some coffee and an apple pastry made our stop there complete.
Sondra: This was one of the most beautiful and peaceful stops on our entire trip. One could just see forever and it was very quiet. Then I realized it was quiet because Robin had fallen asleep in his stroller. He’s very good at "stroller sleeping." He signals his parents that he’s tired and then he turns sideways in the stroller with his head on his pillow and they cover up the stroller with a jacket and he has a little tent for sleeping purposes. There were times on this trip that I would have welcomed my own little "stroller sleeper."
John: Next we walked a few blocks to the Loreto, Prague’s place of pilgrimage. In this historic place there is a cloister, a church, a famous carillon, and a treasury with spectacular monstrances (vessel (usually of gold or silver) in which the consecrated Host at communion is exposed for adoration). Loreto Palace was named after the town of Loreto, Italy, where the dwelling of the Virgin Mary was said to have been brought by angels from Palestine in the 13th century. The center piece of the cloister is the tiny Santa Casa, decorated with reliefs of the life of Mary. This was a sunny afternoon and we relaxed outside for a while before beginning the search for dinner.
Sondra: Monstrances – who knew? Not I. A wealthy woman had 4500 diamonds sewn onto her wedding dress when she married her wealthy second husband and then she donated the diamonds to the church (a tax write off I’m sure) and they took the diamonds and made this monstrous Monstrance that is on display in a carefully guarded room. How amazing was that? It’s not often that you see a huge cross encrusted with diamonds. I may need a Monstrance for Christmas.
We walked to the Metro stop and rode to Old Town Square, by the Jewish Quarter. From there we walked to the nearby Charles Bridge, the touristic heart of the city. Lots of folks walking in either direction, admiring the sculptures on the sides, or watching workmen repair damage from the flood of 2002, or having a caricature drawn, buying some art, listening to a violinist playing Mendelssohn in accompaniment to a CD of the orchestral part, touching a lucky statue, watching a tethered balloon lift sightseers high above the Vltava River, fending off Africans in sailor suits selling boat rides, admiring the view of the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. Just hanging out. We crossed over and while Robin played in a park some of us had coffee and a pastry; then checked out some stores selling Czech glass and crystal. Just weren’t in a buying mood. On the way back over the bridge the violinist was gone and in his place was an organ grinder. And at the other end a band playing Dixieland music and selling their CDs.
We miraculously all got back together and found a quiet route to Old Town Square, arriving just in time for the 2 pm clanging of the famous astronomical clock. A skeleton rang the bell while other things were happening in the clock; a large crowd enjoyed it along with us. Then we rested by the Hus monument for a moment. (Jan Hus, d. 1415, was a Czech medieval cleric and reformer who was convicted as a heretic and burned at the stake. He preceded Luther by about 100 years. In 1999, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for the cruel death inflicted on Hus.)
After some packing we were hungry and sought out a neighborhood place, Hlucna Samota on Zagreb St., the next street over. This pleasant bar and café was decorated with a bust and some memorabilia of a somewhat famous Czech writer, sort of an off beat guy named Bohumil Hrabal. Hrabal loved to juxtapose the beauty and cruelty found in everyday life. Inside, we were reminded that young Czechs love to smoke. And that we loved the local beer and good, simple food of this place, offered at a fair price. Sondra: Our last night with my little Berlin family was bittersweet. Missy and I wore our jewels again to dinner to celebrate the end of our great time together. I had taught Robin the song "Ten Little Indians" one day when he was counting for me and as we strolled back to the hotel I noticed that he had his fingers up in the air in his stroller and was carefully translating "Ten Little Indians" from English to German. Obviously he loved the song and wanted it in his own language.
Sondra: What rooms we had. Missy’s maid, Hilda, had recommended this place (Thank you Hilda). We had sky lights that opened to the city and Missy and Peter had a terrace down one entire side of their 2 bedroom suite. We were in high cotton and also we were in high duvets. The terrace was especially beautiful at night with a full moon and the twinkling lights from the city. When in Prague try the Hotel Orion.
Last change March 2010