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A Week in Prague: Day 1

By Thursday, July 24, 2014 , ,

We started our Prague adventure by flying in the night before, thinking that instead of getting up early for the airport and arriving stressed and cranky from traveling it would be nice to get that all taken care of and wake up refreshed in a new city! The bus driver at the airport wouldn't accept a 500 czk note (about 20 euro) so we had to go back into the airport to get change, and missing the bus meant we were late checking into Airbnb. We had to go buy some basics like milk and cereal, so it turned into a pretty late night of riding public transit and grocery shopping, not my first choice of a first night in a new city.

The next day started early, at about 7:30 when we discovered that the building we were staying in was undergoing renovations.The building was fairly run down on the outside and main entry, so the work was very much needed, but 7:30 by a stone cutter was a surprise!

So we made the best of it and set out for the Old Town, but true to form, we got lost on the way, going too far east when we should have been going north! I don't think if it hadn't been for this detour I would have got to see as much of Prague 2, though, and get a better feel for what much of Prague is actually like.

We ended up going through Wenceslas Square on our way to the Old Town, and this is where the tour groups started. Different guides in different languages all trying to shout over each other became a reoccruing theme for the journey, not to mention their followers trying not to get separated pushing past me on narrow side walks....

Don't worry, I realize I'm a tourist complaining about all those other tourists.

It was much warmer and more humid than we first thought, especially after all that walking. I often have trouble deciding what to bring and wear with me, since no matter what it seems to rain where ever we go on holiday (including Las Vegas, in the Mojave Desert). By the time we made it into the old town square I was carrying quite a few layers.

We walked through old Town square, passed the astronomical clock and the spiky Church of Our Lady before Týn. Throughout our holiday we kept returning to the square, as it's not only a good landmark to orient yourself to, but it's full of beautiful architecture, statues and musicians, like this group:

 There were many musicians playing in the square, but these guys were especially good. Called the "Bohemian Bards" their music is inspired from the 13th to 15th century, as were (I assume) their outfits (check out their shoes!). They were just finishing their set when we arrived, otherwise I would have liked to listen to them longer.

We had lunch at an out of the way set of food stands that seemed to cater mostly to locals on their lunch breaks. There were cheap burgers and fries, tex mex, and even a wine and cheese booth, but we of course came for Thai Box Food, a great little vegetarian place whose food was flavorful and spicier than we usually get in Germany. Strangely, my husband had to pick another dish after they ran out of rice. All the stands are outdoors, but under an overhanging biolding so they and their seating are sheltered from the rain. Find them at Králodvorská 663/13, near the Náměstí Republiky metro.

After lunch, we walked to the Jewish quarter, Josefov, but hurried back to the Old Town Square for coffee when it started to rain. We went to the chain cafe Costa Coffee, spent too much on lattes (which were delicious), and discovered the bathrooms were locked with keypads on the doors. The passcode was printed on the receipt, but what an inconvenience to customers!
We returned to the Jewish Quarter, and found the golem door on the side of Old New Synagogue. Notice how the ladder rungs stop before reaching the ground, but lead up to a door? Legend has it the remains of the Golem of Prague are kept there. (Check out one version of the myth here.)

Next up we visited the Spanish Synagogue was this unusual homage to Kafka:   

Inside the Spanish synagogue are beautifully painted walls and ceilings, with a Star of David motif throughout. No photos were allowed, but I wanted to show you how beautiful it was, and this photo on flickr by user loadsy captures it wonderfully:

The Synagogue was smaller than I expected, two stories high with a balcony around the top. On both levels there were glass tables with documents of the history of Jews in Prague over the last few centuries.

Since it was late afternoon by then and the sky looked heavy and threatening, we decided to head for a pre-dinner drink or two at the beer lovers' haven, Zly Casy.

We ended our first day with dinner at The Tavern, which despite having rave reviews and being packed even on a Wednesday night was a little disappointing. My favorite part of the dinner was the cocktail and ranch dip rather than my actual food. But it had been on our to do list and I'm glad we got to check it out. We took the train home and called it a night.

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  1. Great photos! It looks like you had a wonderful time! I have always wanted to go overseas but it will be some time since I have small kids! Good luck in your travels and I will be following your blog :)