Friday, July 22, 2016

Day 13: Prague

Day 13:  Prague

Orange is the new Czech black

Weather:  In the 80s, stay thirsty my friends (and rehydrate)

A trifecta: Marcus, extra dark chocolate ice cream cone and Cerny's King Wenceslas on a dead horse


Well, my heart's in the highlands with the horses and hounds
Way up in the border country far from the towns
With the twang of the arrow and the snap of the bow
My heart's in the highlands, I can't see any other way to go.

Breakfast: same as it ever was.

THB takes these pics of the statue in the main square and then it turns out Marcus explains all as part of the tour

We see several groups and couples dressed up and holding flowers; who are they, where are they going?
DB runs a shopping errand, THB works on his posts. THB and DB head our around 10, hoping (well, one of us is hoping) to do a little shopping before our 11am meet-up with The Naked Guy city tour (“we go where tourists normally are never taken").  Shopping results in visiting stores that aren’t open and the ones that are open don’t have what we’re looking for…or we can find at home (wherever that is; someone remind me, where do I normally sleep?).
Soon to be banned

The tour meet-up spot...where's the Naked Guy?

There was a statue on this spot...will it be put back?

It's not far way, hiding in plain sight around the corner 

We’re in the main meeting spot for most city tours, in front of the Cartier store, when DB notices a guy in orange lathering himself with suntan lotion. Yep, it’s Marcus, our tour guide for the day. Bonus round: we’re the only two that signed up today. Marcus is around 26, Irish, has degrees in English Literature and History, has been in the Czech Republic three out of the last four years, is learning Czech, has a Czech boyfriend, and rowed crew in college. Most of this we find our very early in the tour.
City Hall used to be an extension to the church, it was blown up in 1945 by the Allies or Czech resistance very very late in the war (it held a lot of explosives)

The balcony on the square where in 1948 the Communists basically announced a coup (with 3K armed troops watching from below) and Havel made his own acceptance speech as the elected President after the fall of the Wall 

Black Madonna

He spends the next almost 4 hours living up to the motto; we definitely are not on the normal city tour, though the vast majority of the time we are within 500 meters of the starting point just off the main square. And, because we had been to the last part of the tour on our own, we do even more near the square than normal.
The forecourt of what is now a Franciscan church. The forecourt was supposed to be the actual church, never completed

Cobblestones indicating where the main structural elements were to be laid

Very tall and very thin inside

Some of the highlights:
·      A lot of information on the impact on the Czech citizens as Czech politics moved from being next to Hitler, taken over by the Fascists, replaced by a democratically elected Communist government, then controlled by a Soviet controlled Communist government, to the fall of the Wall and democracy re-arriving
Note the damage to the statues

Taliban not the only group to knock heads off inanimate objects

·      The impact of religion, starting from around 550 years ago and the equivalent of the Protestant Reformation, and how as each new type of government came to power they adapted the intent and meaning of religious icons for their own purposes
The sign is saying: natural A/C

The beer garden is next to the tall and thin church

Marcus has the big beer, THB and DB the small ones

Lots of bread

What we're drinking

Good listener, soft speaker

·      A tour of some little seen public art installations, including explaining the one we sought out last night: Cerny’s King Wenceslas riding an upside down dead horse (see pic below); in fact, Marcus should have been our art tour guide, he was way more knowledgeable than Cristina… well, that’s not saying much…he is plenty knowledgeable enough to be leading art tours


Back (more ape-like features)

One more time: in the middle of a major block (owned by Havel's family)

Where it was supposed to go: the main post office

And the statue it was based on: King Wenceslas on a live horse

·     A lunch in a beer garden that was an oasis right next to the tall/thin unusual church. Place was practically empty and the food was very good (okay, hot dogs again); Marcus took us in the back way; if you came in through the front it was a normal looking indoor pub type place

Marcus and DB obey the sign
 ·      Marcus explained the reason some people thought Hitler was "creating a museum" of Judaica in Prague. Prague already had a Jewish museum (run by Jews), as of 1906, and as Hitler exterminated the Jews and obliterated the temples, the material was sent to Prague for "safe-keeping". Eventually, the Jews of Prague were eliminated as well and Hitler lost the war. The Nazi intent was always about theft, not preservation.
Another "Spanish" Synagogue (more Morrocan?)

Good looking cobblestones outside the synagogue

Along the way, THB bought water for Marcus and us ($1 for two bottles) and Marcus bought ice cream cones for the three of us ($3). Lunch was $20. The tour cost $35pp, and Marcus got a $35 tip (well earned).

Near or in the main train station:

This pic is copied off another site: it's at the Liverpool Station in London (see note below next pic)

Nicholas Winton arranged for the funding and transport of 800 Jewish children to England on several trains just before Germany declared war on France (the last train unfortunately got stuck in France); the "sister" statue is in the London Liverpool train station (see above)

Back to the hotel to rest up, watch the end the daily stage of the TdF (nearing it’s end), and walk to nearby Sansho for dinner.

Dinner was excellent and, per Marcus, so not Czech. So true! This was a great meal no matter where you fine dine. Think Slanted Door (for those of you who live in the Bay Area) in the original location in the Mission, not the overcrowded hyper-version in the Ferry Building. Careful, attentive service, and a set menu (except the people next to us also had a huge mound of what looked like steak tartare, maybe instead of some of the fish dishes). Highly recommended...sooooooooooo not Czech!

We're dining outside; it's very warm, no breeze at all, good people watching

The meal: house water (yep, tap water with some mint and cucumber, 80 cents), bottle of Gruner Veltliner, no dessert (we're stuffed), with tip $140. The rest of the meal in pics:

Sansho version of  Rum & Ginger, Tom Collins 

Salmon Sashimi
Clams and tendons (accurate)

Smoked trout and green mango salad

Soft shell crab in bao

Side veggies

Seafood curry

Fish curry

More pics of interest:

The start of the Taste of Prague tour

A store we finally found; not open even though it is past the time posted on their door

Marcus explains: it's graduation day and flowers are given to the graduates

Marcus explains: it is easier to dig up the streets if something needs to be repaired underneath that if everything is covered in asphalt. True? Hmmmm...

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