So bright this morning when I opened my eyes for the first time that I thought I’d slept through half of our precious Prague jewel-finding day!
It was not until the end of the afternoon that Prague showed us her beauty. In blistering sun we emerged from our apartment to walk to Stare Mesto – the Old Town. First stop was the beautifully restored 600 year old Astronomical Clock, which sounds the hour after a series of events: Death rings the bell and upends his hourglass, Vanity holds a mirror, Greed clutches a money bag, and the Twelve Apostles parade, nodding to the crowd, before the cock crows. It was 5pm but it rang and rang…I should have counted. The hundreds of onlookers dispersed with a similar reaction to that when the cow jumps over the moon in the Cat and Fiddle Arcade; it’s not gratifying.
The square was beautiful with buildings of many eras and colours, Baroque churches and a rococo palace, spires with baubles glistening in the sun, cobblestones, little alleyways, museums, galleries, food of all sorts and a vibrant brand of people, so different to those in our square who seem to lack pizzazz and freedom.
The Gothic spires of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn drew us in. Enormous vertical clear lead-lighted unusually thin windows were the feature from behind the forbidding iron gates; the Old Town Hall had an interesting frescoed foyer; Powder Gate begun in 1475 as one of Stare Mesto’s city gates was grubby, but brilliantly contrasted was the Art Nouveau Municipal House building almost adjacent. Reputedly the oldest Prague pub is underground, so too the Restaurant where we had dinner; a beautiful room combining Art Nouveau designs, tiles, window glass, hat & coat stands, and vases et al, with Bavarian-style wooden furniture. Fish and Lamb.
From there to a definite highlight – Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Marionette Theatre tucked away in Zatecka Street, a few blocks from the bustle of the Square. It was inspired. The ‘sound track’, a recording by the acclaimed Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra boasted singers the likes of Bryn Terfel, Barbara Bonney and Haken Hagegard, and the production employed many unexpected effects that made us all have a good chuckle. High recommendation!
Our day had started with photographing every spire we saw – afterall Prague is The city of a Thousand Spires – walking in the direction of Charles Square. The Cerny upside- down horse in Lucerna arcade kept us amused …and St Ignatius church left us speechless with its Baroque grandeur. The quiet monuments remembering the bombing of Prague and another, the deaths leading into the Velvet Revolution, made us pause and acknowledge how safe we’ve been all of our lives. A Benedictine Monastery, The National Theatre, and Fred & Ginger’s ‘The Dancing House’ – a Frank Gehry creation – from the top of which we could look over Prague (see all the spires we’d missed) and the longest of the Czech rivers, the Vltava.
Gary is sucking on a green chupa chup. The status of marijuana is not clear in Prague and all mini-marts have a dazzling array of green items…