Friday, July 04, 2014

Let us not forget the manhole covers

Amsterdam was a bit disappointing in the manhole cover department. Prague pretty good.

I know, not a manhole cover, but hey.
And maybe this should have gone under the footpaths post



The footpaths of Prague

It is hard not to notice the beautiful variety of patterns made by the cobblestones on the footpaths. Red, black, white and grey are the common ones. We see crews with special machines tamping in the blocks when they pop out. We wonder how girls in high heels manage, but I notice there are more wedges than stilettos.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Oops! What day is it?

This post deals with Tuesday 1st July, in Prague.

We pulled into Prague Station and were met on the platform by the very affable Charles, who picked up our luggage, put it in his Skodq, and drove us to our hotel. Hotel Hoffmeister is at the bottom of the Castle hill, and very convenient to the city. Alas, our room was not ready so we sat in the lovely garden and had some coffee, and the concierge sat with us and advised us what we could do during our stay, gave us maps and brochures.

One of those options was a SIX-HOUR walking tour which started at 1.00. It was only 10.30 or so, so we decided to mosey around a bit. Up the hill to the Castle, a bit of a look around, and down the steps again. That was quite a walk, but more was to come.

We were picked up by the tour van at 1.00 to be taken back up the hill. Thankfully the tour started from the top and went downhill from there. Our tour guide, Jiří, or George, was a history teacher who guided tours as a summer job. He was terrific. We learned such a lot from him, our heads are spinning. I have too many pictures to put here, you will just have to watch our DVD when we return.

Jiří With the orange umbrella

The tour continued across the Charles Bridge and onto a boat. This gave us a very welcome lemonade and an ice cream. It was now about 3 pm and we hadn't eaten anything since our small box breakfast on the train at 6.30.

A few nice boat pictures.

Off the boat and through the streets of the old city, and to lunch! Pork with dumplings and red and white cabbage. Delicious. This was a medieval restaurant, very much like a dungeon. Going to the bathroom was down stairs two levels - even more like a dungeon.

After lunch was more of the old town. The Jewish quarter, with the oldest active synagogue, having been built in 1270. Hard to comprehend.


We creaked back to the hotel at around 7.00 and thankfully our room was ready. As in Amsterdam our room number is 702. As in Amsterdam we are not in the main hotel, but a small building across the street. It is apartment style, with a kitchenette. It has two sitting rooms, and two of the most amazing bathrooms. The walls are hewn right out of the rock. Both have spa baths. I got into one and luxuriated. I do not have any romantic notions about backpacker hotels. This is better.

A sum total of 15,687 steps, or 11.1 km



Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Wednesday 2nd July. Prague

Sunday was a rest day, so we hung around our lovely sunny apartment and knitted, blogged, read. We went out to the Concertgebouw that evening, taking a tram both ways. This is included in the price of the ticket - how civilised. We heard Schubert's Unfinished, and Mahler's 4th. We also heard the roars of the crowd as Netherlands won their World Cup game, there was a huge crowd of orange people and enormous screens in the park there, and a very festive air. The air inside the Concertgebouw was rather more refined.

Monday was travel day from Amsterdam. I like trains, so we have a sleeper booked from Amsterdam to Prague at 7pm. We arose at the crack of eight and finished what we had in the refrigerator. Michael cooked our one measly asparagus spear between us. It was the whopper in the photo so there was ample. I sliced up the rest of the strawberries which have been fabulous, and had them with the last of the yoghurt. That comes in a carton and is pourable, rather than spoonable tubs. We had the last two boxes of Chocomel (I'd bought a six-pack) and Michael now knows why I like them. I knitted for while, and have now finished both the fingerless mittens. Yay! Too warm to wear them now though. On to the perpetual tatting.

To fill in time we decided to fit in one last museum. The Palace. It was so beautiful. French empire style, and grand, but some of the bedrooms we saw looked quite liveable. If you are a princess.

We had the audio guide, those ubiquitous podcatchers. We listened to four or five locations, and they are really full of information. Alas, we are now too full of information and both of us have reached saturation. We were lucky that upstairs the two war rooms had opened about ten days ago, for the first time in 200 years. There were grand portraits of militia men around the walls, including a copy of the Night Watch. Unavoidable Art. There were more interactive display panels of each of the paintings where you could poke a militiaman in the face and read further information about him. In English, if you wish. These panels are quite large, so the circled heads would be about my eye height.

After this museum we went and had a sit-down at one of Michael's sacred sites, when he was in the Netherlands in 1983. It didn't serve food, otherwise we might have had lunch there. Instead we wandered off and found Kapitein Zeppos, which was just the place to sit and have a pleasant lunch and while away some of the afternoon. There was a table of young Australian lads outside getting stuck into the grog and the dope but they weren't rowdy yet.

Speaking of which, that was another thing we didn't do - smoke any marijuana. The reek of it is everywhere, reminding me of my misspent youth, but it holds no attraction for me now. A friend tells me you can buy starter kits in the flower market, but when you can buy it so readily why would you bother growing it?

I decided that I should have a Delft Pandora bead, and that the Delft Experience would have one. (You don't have shops any more, you have Experiences, or go to Concept Stores.). Off we went. I was tempted by the full size Delft cow, but the beads are more packable. Yes, I was successful.

By now it was time to go pick up our bags from the hotel and go to the train station. All done. As Lien pointed out in one of her posts recently, the one failure of the European train system is that although you know your carriage and berth number, you don't know where that carriage is going to be on the very long platform. You also don't know where to look for your carriage number. Our train pulled in. I eventually spied the carriage numbers, but couldn't find ours. At the last carriage we decided to just get on before the train left without us, and sort it out from the inside. Many others had the same thought so there was this period of mayhem as we went one way with our bags through the tiny corridors of two carriages and others went the oppsite way. What fun. We found our compartment, and it was obvious that I was going to sleep on the top bunk and Michael on the bottom. No way was he going up that ladder! Just as well I am flexible, spry and nimble. We watched the view for a whole, explored the facilities, then I tucked up and went to sleep. I slept very well. Nobody woke us to check our passports, although I dreamed they did. My UP tells me I had 4 hours and 28 minutes of deep sleep, for seven and a half total. Ah, the quantified life.

Woke at 6.45 and ate a boxed breakfast with rather good coffee. We watched the view go by and then we were in Prague for a new day. And a new blog post.