Prague is a fairy tale. A photogenic fairytale; we took 351 photos in about 5 hours yesterday. Despite a dense and frightfully frigid fog, the city still looks like it’s party-ready. This place is decked out. Do excuse my summing-up tendencies, but we have so much to show and tell. So, a mile-a-minute, here we go.
Namesti, as they are called here, draw the city together like knots. The squares aren't really squares, but squished pentagons and trapezoids. The Old Town Square, which sits between the two dark buildings here (although you can't see it in the first picture), is the largest square in Europe, and was designed by King Charles himself.
At present, the Old Town Square is home to my favorite part of Prague: a gallery of food stalls declaring their speciality in medieval fonts and smoking the smell of Christmas. Grog. Langose (fried dough with cheese). Trdelnik (a long, baked sugar donut).
We've been to the super vafel stand probably four times already. His vafels are two waffled cookies with a filling of homemade caramel from a top-secret family recipe of four generations.
This is why you should travel. Decadence.
Tops of things
Second cool thing, and something you'd never find in America, is that roofs matter. Seriously, don't you just want an umbrella? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
The smoke here reminds me that you-know-what is coming, and soon we'll all huddle in the ski lodge holding warm mugs. One month; oh the anticipation!
No clue what this is, but it looks like a life-size music box and it's the top of something, so it can be friends with everyone else on the blog.
The real-deal Bohemia is a part of the Czech Republic including Prague, and you can see where the American word comes from with its shops stacked with puppets and funky animations.
The buildings are coloured like a candy store and every street is more fun than the last.
When you think castle, you probably picture ramparts and parapets, not a massive church inside a walled off corner of town. But, Prague Castle does indeed dominate the whole upper part of the city. We spent the entire day in its walls, me listening to the audioguide about Rupert the 2nd and Vladislav the millionth while Walker shot photos. Parts of the castle have been here from the 900s, so the history was complicated.
We'll start with St Vitus's Cathedral, the main feature of the castle, and home to a load and a half of relics of Czech patron saints. The most notable saint is St Wenceslas. Apparently, every ruler of the country is officially borrowing power from Wenceslas. His crown, always returned after coronations, sits behind seven locks.
In many ways, St Vitus's looked like any cathedral, with buttresses, organs, and stained glass to kingdom come.
But it had its own boho flair with intricately carved wood and folkish cut-outs.
Is that Santa on Mary's left? Bummer.
This was my favorite thing in the castle, a map of Prague carved in the early 1600s. Much of it is still recognizable, and that, my friends, is the difference between Europe and America. Buildings here may be cold and damp, but they last. Foreshadowing alert: note the bridge.
The cathedral felt Moravian, and I vote for a Christmas tree instead of a mausoleum in the center. Who's with me?
Here she sits in all her splendor, folks. You know those 'reserved for family' signs that get you every time you want a good seat? That passageway led straight from the palace (left) into a special box for royalty in the cathedral.
The Old Royal Palace, also part of the castle, renowned for its combination of Renaissance and Gothic architecture brought us straight into a time of jousts and court feasts.
Sweet deal having a cathedral and this chapel connected to your house,
The wood here fascinates me; the years have honeyed it.
Who strangled whom, who threw each other out windows, and who saved whose bones. . . it's all a jumble now, but we did learn about it. A few more shots of the cathedral before we head on; keep scrolling because the cool stuff is ahead.
Do you think a gnome lives in here? Nope. Boring exhibits.
Let me just stop right here to report on lunch, because we're still reeling. We hadn't walked far enough in the castle to realize how extensive it was, so around 2pm when we were famished, we stopped at what appeared to be the only place to eat; it was a little cafe whose advertized specialties were goulash and sliced potatoes with smoked bacon. Specialties apparently translates only options. Almost everyone in the restaurant (including us) was eating the sliced potatoes dish, a massive chunk of dry potatoes dotted with ham. When all was said and done, Walker said my plate looked like an archeological dig. Thankfully, this is not indicative at all of food here. Czech food is delish, and you'll be reading a lot more about it. While we're on a break from grandeur, check this out. It's very important that no ice cream enters the cathedral, everyone.
Full of stacks of potato, we toured St George's Convent, the oldest Christian church in the whole Czech area, completed by good king Wenceslas himself. Wooden ceilings make any room feel authentic and rustic, so I like them.
Baby, it. is. cold. outside. So cold that I sat next to the heater for three hours editing photos last night and never warmed up. We haven't figured out why, but the air is harsh here, and historic buildings are largely unheated.
Our unheated day in the castle was rewarded abundantly, even if we were too cold to appreciate it at the time.The beauty of this panorama of the city can one-up the view of any city I've been to. I'm even typing faster thinking about it. Over this wall
and past this coolio tree,
were these jewels. If you look all day, there is still more to discover and delight.
Charles Bridge, in the center of this photo is a magical pedestrian spot where artists sketch, brass and banjos shine, joy shimmers,
and a very happy girl is tucked under a very handsome man's arm each night.
Goodnight from the land of happily ever after!
P.s. Of course, we're really just ordinary tourists, but boho hobos sounds much better than boho tourists.