Czech Republic · Travel

Prague/Vienna Trip – Day 1: TSFH in Prague

Jacqueline and I woke up in our hotel room in Prague, ready to explore the city. We wandered into the old town, a relatively short walk from our hotel, and saw the many tourist shops and exchange bureaus that pepper the Prague centre. It was gloriously warm weather, and so we grabbed breakfast from one of the small shops in the centre, a toroidal, cylindrical pastry that tasted like a nice doughnut. Unfortunately, the main attraction in the centre of the town was not visible. The Astronomy Clock, attached to the town hall tower, was hidden behind scaffolding. While it is completely understandable that old monuments need constant repairs, it’s always slightly disappointing when that happens when you are visiting.

From the town centre, we walked through the rather quiet Jewish Quarter, across the river and up the hill to the Prague Metronom. This was on the top of the hill on a large plinth overlooking the old town that once sported a giant statue of Joseph Stalin. Now, there is a rather strange beam that swings side to side every half minute or so. What was nice, was the view over the city from the park at the top, so we stopped and watched the city and the many many trams for a while.

Our next attraction was the Prague Castle, which stood majestically on a hill overlooking the city. On the western side, from which we entered, the castle appears as a palace, with a large central court surrounded by tall white buildings. We bought a ticket to wander around. Our plan was initially to see the large, gothic cathedral in the middle of the castle, but the line outside was far to long so we decided to come back later. Instead, we went out to the so-called Golden Lane, which is a much more medieval area than much of the rest of the castle. The castle wall featured a museum of historical weapons and armour, but below the wall there were various old houses and shops that had also been turned into a museum. Finally, we walked back up towards the cathedral, which was now a little quieter. We also grabbed a sausage for some lunch.

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After the castle, we wandered to the royal gardens, where I wanted to check out an old building that was once used as a real tennis court, and then we wandered around to the Petrin hill, which is a forest hill-park near the centre of the city. The weather was now warming up, and we were eager to get some water into us. We spent a bit of time atop the hill watching over the city, and found a park bench on which to relax and muse about all of the electric scooters with bike wheels that we were seeing tourists riding about. From there, we wandered down the hill and via the Lennon Wall, a graffiti-ed wall and memorial to peace that had some history in the fall of communism in the country. Finally, we walked over the famous Charles Bridge, which was packed with all sorts of tourists and art dealers.

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The tourist part of our day had finished, and we were now eager to get some food. We found a restaurant on the river and sampled some goulash and dumplings for an early dinner. From there, we wandered through the city back to our hotel, briefly, to get changed and head out for the evening. It was time for the original reason that we had come to Prague in the first place. This weekend was the Film Music Prague festival, and notably for me was a live performance of music by Two Steps from Hell, a group that write music for film trailers and television spots. It was to be only their second live performance, the first several years ago in LA. The venue was a rather new concert hall just east of central Prague, and was packed full. The orchestra played through a number of their popular older pieces in the first half of the concert, and their newer pieces in the second half. To much of the crowd’s delight, one of the composers from the group, Thomas Bergersen, appeared live in person to play his electric violin and piano. It was rather special to hear music that heard many times through headphones played live, even if some if it didn’t translate entirely well to the live format. The crowd were enthusiastic all the way through, and it was a thoroughly worthwhile experience. Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel for the evening.

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