Saturday, October 16, 2010

September 13, 2010 - Monday - Prague

We filled ourselves with the complimentary breakfast at our hostel before we checked out and stowed our luggage in their locker.

We spent the morning investigating the city some more. On our way to Charles Bridge, we ate a small and expensive pastry which was made by wrapping dough around a wide dowel and then sprinkling it with sugar and cinnamon and rotating it over a fire until it cooks.

At Charles Bridge, I became eager to identify the locations that were used in critical scenes from Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible. The bridge along with the Lichtenstein Building were some memorable areas in which we reveled.

Once we crossed to the west side of Charles Bridge, we started hiking up the hill toward the castle. That path was dotted on either side with embassies from all around the world. We were less inclined to have our cameras out this time around. The American embassy distinguished itself by having much more security than other embassies in the area - more to the point, the other embassies didn’t appear to have any visible security. We remarked on the shame of belonging to a country whose provocations in the world have demanded such heightened security and paranoia.

Resting above embassy row was a large park that extended 200 meters up the hill to a monastery up top. We walked northwest from the monastery to the castle, and further on to a series of vineyards that carpet the hill. From there we crossed the Manesuv Bridge back into the city for a delicious meal at a Czech restaurant called Lokal. We had minced meat, potatoes, and a yummy apple-bread pudding. Later we returned to the hostel to regroup with our Canadian friends.

The four of us went returned to Old Town Square to meet the guide of a free tour. The group was small, including our guide (a delightful Czech young lady named Klara) the two Canadians, and a friendly couple from New Zealand. We thoroughly enjoyed the company of this small group and we stayed with them for the remainder of our stay in Prague. The free tour took us from the Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clocktower, the Tyn Church, the Old-New Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Charles Bridge, Little Vienna, Prague Castle, Matthias Gate, and St Vitus Cathedral.

Klara left us at the castle, and the six of us found a nearby medieval-themed restaurant where we ate delicious pork medallions in cranberry sauce along with some refreshing beverages. The Canadians peeled off from the group early to participate in a pub-crawl, but we stayed and talked into the night with the Kiwis. Outstanding people. (As London residents, they very well may host me as a guest in November when I pass through the city.)

We returned to Lokal restaurant to watch the first set of the Nadal vs. Djokovic US Open final. Nadal was exhibiting some outstanding athleticism.

Our night train to Vienna left at 12:30 AM that night, so we could not finish the tennis match. We gathered our things from the hostel’s locker and made our way to the train station.

We boarded the train for our first experience with a night train. Our quarters had six couchettes (sleeping berths) in each compartment. We shared that small room with three Austrians.

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