Home for lunch; change of shoes; wring out the sweat-drenched clothing.
We photographed the Estates Theatre known to Mozart.
Headed in the direction of the Jewish Quarter and didn’t find an agreeable breakfast spot until we were very close – a few cobblestones shy of endless tourist groups. Our customary pastry with coffee was replaced by an avocado & egg on sourdough affair and Gary got his first mug of coffee on this adventure in foreign lands.
Too many tourists and too many souvenirs and no bagels.
Next stop St Agnes’ Convent, Prague’s oldest Gothic building housing altar paintings and medieval and early Renaissance art. Circumnavigated it and headed for the river, which we crossed via the unspectacular Stefanikuv Bridge, and then climbed some steps to walk parallel to the river, but away from the traffic. We smelt Spring & Summer; we saw Prague from the other side.
Descended and crossed the more interesting Guild Bridge and headed for the Rudolfinum – a Neo-Renaissance building on the river bank, home of the Czech Philharmonic. It has two concert halls – the Suk Hall for Chamber Music and the Dvorak Hall for orchestral concerts. After a very pleasant conversation with the attendant at the Suk Hall we were inspired to go to an exhibition in the floor above: A Cool Breeze – a collection of artworks by 17 international artists exploring figural sculpture in modern art. Loved it and loved the huge high-ceiling rooms, well lit by full ceiling ‘sky lights’.
Then Dvorak’s statue in front of the main entrance and a look at the time…!!!
With fresh energy we set out for Prague castle via Petrin Hill, opting for the funicular to take us up the 130 metres above the left bank of the Vlatava River. We had had thoughts of climbing Prague’s ‘Eiffel Tower’ but the day was getting away from us. We strolled relatively casually through pleasant park lands but once we met with civilisation things deteriorated. In short we didn’t know where we were and didn’t know how to progress from an on-line booking into entry to buildings (which we were ever so aware would close in 90 minutes or so) and signage was non-existent at the crucial moment.
it is a good lost tourist story for another time.
The sky was now dominated by deepening black clouds and a climate feel of doom added to our own. After a wad of korunas were handed over we were in St Vitus Cathedral almost dancing. Begun in 1344 and consecrated in 1929, this building will be unforgettable because of its stained glass windows; incomparable even without the illumination from daylight. We had 30 minutes; wish I’d memorised my guidebook!
Together with hundreds of tourists we took refuge in the entrance way until eviction. The heavens had opened and the all the gargoyles were spewing more water into the flooded square. How expert they were!
Trying to meet up with a TSO chorister who was sheltering in another doorway eventually meant the three of us were drenched. We shivered, we parted – David to the closest concert in St George Basilica and Gary and I to a pre-booked concert in St Nicholas Church; pre-chosen so that we could absorb the finest baroque building in Central Europe, the trompe l’oeil effect on the ceiling, and I’d read something about the organ. Even though the huge green cupola is visible from all over Prague we had to find it as we now couldn’t see it!
Wet through and cold, in twenty minutes we downed a beer, a coffee, a sausage and a camembert and had sat in a pew mid way in the church. The concert started promptly at 6 and would have been fantastic had it finished 15 minutes later. I attempted to master the art of taking photos with my phone’s camera upside down on my lap; wrote, addressed and stamped 4 postcards (the stamps are enormous small reproductions of the Art Nouveau Prague artist Mucha), and tried to come to terms with the ‘artificial’ marble columns. The program of Frescobaldi, Caccini, Viadana and the like emanating from an out of sight organ and organist, and with an invisible mezzo who lacked quality and intonation at both edges of her range, added more misery to an afternoon that had gone wrong.
David, finished with his concert, met us, and we walked and talked our way over the famous Charles Bridge (commissioned in 1357) into the Old Town, got persuaded to enter an eating place where we devoured pork and dumplings and goulash and finished the meal with a misunderstanding about the bill which couldn’t be settled with a credit card…
Everyone thought the other was leading us home but it soon became obvious that Google was needed.
Tomorrow needs some planning otherwise we’ll leave Prague with regrets.