Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Finally, Prague

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European countryside is beautiful and lush, with fields of green grass, yellow rapeseed and as you get into the eastern European countries, red poppies. Houses are different country to country but they are all very neat and pretty.

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It took a whole day's drive to get to Prague from Frankfurt, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Lucky the pit stops had pretty good food.

My daughter visited Prague (Praha to the locals and pronounced that way too, "Prah ha") four years ago and loved the city. She's not the only one. Everybody who's been there tell me it's special. Get there too before it becomes like Paris or Rome, filled with millions of tourists.

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The buildings are dirtier looking but charming in their unrefined, unrenovated state.

There are a few new buildings too, notably Frank Gehry's Dancing House or 'Fred & Ginger'.

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Ginger looks like she's giving Fred a hard time here.

Prague is a very old city and I wasn't impressed at first sight. It looked dirty, old and chaotic--just what you'd expect of an eastern European communist country. But check out the city and you'll find that they have more interesting sights and places than the more developed European countries. Two places you mustn't miss are The Old Town Square and Charles Bridge. Touristy but charming and rustic.

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Walk through the narrow street and the town square spreads out in front of you.

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The main attraction in The Old Town Square is the Astronomical Clock, made 600 years ago, that looks like it belongs to Disneyland. This clock not only shows time, but the brevity of time and life. It also shows astronomical details of the sun and moon, the months and squeezes in some bible figures too. Two figures on each side of the clock represents men's temptations.

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The trumpet is sounded at the top of the tower after the clock stops chiming.

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The things that lead to sin: L to R: Death/Grim Reaper, Infidel (a Turk invader) or Debauchery to some, Vanity &amp and Greed (a Jew).

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Every hour at the hour, Death'll ring the bell, the windows open and the apostles roll by (above the clock in the two little square windows) very quickly. A guy at the top of the tower--in court costumes--will blow the trumpet and bow to the crowd. Fun to watch. Everybody watches with a grin. The message doesn't sink in. We watched the show three times over two days.

There's plenty to explore in the town square. There's a beautiful church (Tyn) but the line was long so we skipped that. Near the clock, 27 white crosses on the ground marked the spots where 27 protestant men were beheaded in 1621 by Catholics who were against the spread of Protestantism. Radiating away from the square are shopping streets.

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15 minutes' walk from the town square are the Jewish Quarters, one of the best kept in Europe. The quarters keep the history of the Jews who lived here since the 10th century. It started to rain and when we got there, it was about to close so they didn't let us in.

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I passed a couple eating pork knuckle on a spit and drooled. I didn't want to get into trouble so I took a photo of the menu board instead. On a tour, you either sight see or dine. There's not enough time for both. Restaurants in Europe take a long time serving your order.


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Dinner was some kind of wurst which I was beginning to tire of. I couldn't walk fast with the ache in my legs. We nearly missed the bus.

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This is a segway and I wished I had one. There's so much walking in Europe that I still get pain in my thighs some nights, a month after the tour.

p.s. Are you praying for us? We'll be in France when you read this.

4 comments:

NEE said...

Definitely on my place to visit wish list. So pretty. Love the first photo.

You going to Switzerland?

Anonymous said...

I'm now in KL, will be back home tomorrow night (1/7/10). Your memory, pictures and description are brilliant. Really enjoy reading yr blog. Take care.

Andrea said...

Do get some Belgian chocolates, they are the best, biscuits such as Dandoy, ice cream, yogurts that are thick and creamy, and croissants plain and chocolate ones and baguettes. Tapestry are beautiful there as well.

zurin said...

beautiful!

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