Perhaps we crammed too much into our three Prague days & nights…
The highlight most definitely came with our resolve to improve our relationship with the Castle and the events that flowed from there.
The morning started with a (better) photo opportunity of the Astronomical Clock and an almost drinkable coffee, a new route to the castle along streets that started with ‘K’ – Kaprova and Klarov – stopping to photograph all the statues atop the Rudolfinum in the off-chance that Mendelssohn is still there. The Nazis had ordered his statue be removed, but the ‘removalists’ not knowing Mendelssohn but looking for a long nose, took down either Wagner or Hitler depending which tale you read.
We walked across the Manesuv bridge and behind us was yet another very pleasant view of endless spires, and then the path climbed through Wenceslaus’ lush vineyard; a vibrant picture of wild red poppies separating the rows of brilliant green vines. Pausing to pass through security gave us a chance to catch our breath and a few steps later there we were at Lobkowicz Palace, the building that Google refused to find for us the day before.
With an approach combining helplessness and acknowledgement of stupidity, we were able to gain access to this 16th century palace with yesterday’s ticket. We have no idea what this palace looks like from the outside – which is unusual when I can clearly recall other palaces I’ve seen – but its contents were what engaged both of us; that too is unusual. The voice in the commentary was agreeable, the approach was agreeable (like, if you’re rushed for time move on to the red symbol), and the information given at each point was just the right amount.
Of particular interest to me was
- the ‘music room’ with many string instruments, but also early woodwind instruments and the original parts to several Beethoven Symphonies and Quartets, and works by other composers. (Since finding out about the goose feather quills involved I see these scores with multi-faceted interest. ) Bejewelled trumpets also took my fancy. Just to connect Beethoven & Lobkowicz – the man, not just a name being researched.
- the ceramics room with cut lemon handles on lids of tureens
- the bird room where an extensive collection of birds adorned the walls – one dimensional, but with their feathers conserved and carefully restored
- the oriental room – the painted walls
- the Canaletto room with the two famous paintings of views of London
- the portraits of the family including Velazquez’ little Doha Margarita Theresa, Infanta of Spain (We saw another painting of this adorable child in the Prado.)
- the cafe
- the shop
On that day, for us, it was faultless.
We took in a few other sites in the Castle grounds – St George Basilica, the Moat and Powder Bridge but we’d had our fill and were more keen to not see another thing. Down the trillions of steps, and then randomly picking laneways (found Winston Churchill on a corner) to get to the Charles Bridge which yesterday we’d walked with squelching sandals and three-way conversation. From there to an icecream and picking up our packs from the Apartment and on to the train.
Much earlier in the day we’d sussed out the railway station so we knew where to go; good move because in the late afternoon our packs were very heavy and it was very hot and we were very tired. The station was packed!!!! People, school groups, dogs, more people – everyone was leaving Prague, or so it seemed. So oppressively stuffy. We were early and chose to spend some time on a park bench outside mindful of being a sitting target for bag snatchers. Our train was 10 minutes delayed but it was the train to Berlin, 100 minutes overdue, that had overfilled the station. The cheer when their platform was announced was welcomed by all.
Great scenery – the train followed the river for the most part and the houses hugged the rail line and the river – and the influence of Prague gradually gave way to country #3.