Day 11: Prague’s Best

Up and at ‘em at 8:00, we showered and went to the attached Café Ebel for our hotel breakfast, which was a Café Americano and croissant.  Not wanting to dawdle over breakfast, we ate quickly and got a jump start to our day that was to include seeing Prague’s best sights.  But not before first dropping off our laundry to the Laundromat on Karoliny Svetle street (cost about 200 CZK per load and we had 2 very dirty, smelly loads).

Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter

Our first stop was the Jewish Quarter, where purchased an entrance ticket into 6 sights (not including the Old-New Synagogue; ticket price was 300 CZK/person) and we started at the Pinkas Synagogue, the site where the names of 77,297 Czech Jews are handwritten on the walls to memorialize those who perished in concentration camps.  Upstairs is the Terezin Children’s Art Exhibit, a display of art drawn by Jewish children who were imprisoned at Terezin Concentration Camp, most of whom later died in the camp.  It is all so poignant and moving, a hard piece of history to digest.  The Pinkas Synagogue portion ends with a walk through the Old Cemetery out back, where over 12,000 tombs are piled on top of one another.  Ceremonial Hall was next, then the Klaus Synagogue (which outlines Jewish religious practices), next the Maisel Synagogue (a largely private collection of Jewish artifacts), and we ended at the Spanish Synagogue.

Now a little tired, hungry, and drained from the Jewish Quarter, we needed to eat lunch to recharge so we stopped at a 7-11 equivalent store and picked up some provisions.  We situated ourselves in a cute square near the Kolkovna restaurant and ate.  Jim had a sandwich, I had a chocolate donut and a banana, and we shared a bag of chipsies and a Diet Coke.  De-lish.  Jim, however, was a little miffed that a couple seated a few benches away asked the man seated on another bench nearby to take their photograph; he couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t asked us.

Now fed and rarin’ to go again, we wandered up to the northern portion of the Jewish Quarter to see the river, saw the big metronome where the 90 foot statue of Stalin used to be, then took the bridge just north of the Charles Bridge to head into the Castle Quarter.  We made the long, steep hike up the hill to the castle (a hike that included just shy of 93,000 steps), took our photos next to the stoic guardsmen at the gate, and then proceeded inside.

Inside St. Vitus Cathedral

Like many other sights on this trip, we had already decided not to pay to go inside the actual castle but the castle grounds are largely free (I’d been inside in 2005 and didn’t remember it to be, like, awe-inspiring, or anything).  So we roamed around and took photographs, went into the St. Vitus Cathedral (which is pretty darn large and impressive), and surveyed the view of Prague from our birds nest.  Having had our fill of the castle side, we started back down the hill.  Along the way we came across a café that had something unique to other places in the area:  outdoor seating.  We stopped for a hot chocolate covered in lots of whipped cream.  Perfection.

We next kept on down the hill in search of the (John) Lennon Wall on Kampa Island, a place that really isn’t an island at all.  After much consulting of the map, many spins around the block, and a little aimless wandering, we found the wall only to find a rather annoying, squealing, shrieking group of American girls had found it first.  This shouldn’t have surprised us, as there were native English speaking tourists everywhere.  This ain’t no Brno.

Prague Castle glowing in the dark

Once the wall had been found (it wasn’t all that interesting but had become a quest just to find it), and fought the masses to get back across the Charles Bridge, we decided to pick up our freshly-washed laundry (yippee!) before going to our room to seek solace in our room before dinner.  After a brief stint at relaxing, we were excited to head out for dinner because our destination was a pizza restaurant called Kmotra, a place we’d found on TripAdvisor.com as being highly recommended, including a hearty thumbs-up by a guy from Naples, Italy.  If it passed muster by a Napolitano then it will certainly pass muster for us.  Sure enough, we found the restaurant and sat upstairs in the bar (only to find out a few nights later that they have a cute downstairs restaurant, which might explain the odd looks from the bartender), ordered up some wine, waters, and a couple of salami pizzas, and were quite impressed a short time later when the delectable food arrived to our table.  Wonderful, wonderful pizza!

After dinner we wandered around for quite some time trying to find someplace impossibly cute in which to sit down for a tea or something non-alcoholic but we just couldn’t quite get there.  No worries, we walked around for so long that we tuckered ourselves out and so we went to bed.

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