Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Afternoon, Evening, and Morning Walks in the Streets of Prague

Walk to Wenceslas Square
Jake drinking Turkish Coffee

We’re coming to the end of our stay in Prague.  Yesterday we walked all day beginning with a "health walk" in the morning.  From our apartment we briskly strode to the tiny Franciscan Gardens, then up a pedestrian walkway to Wenceslas Square and the National Museum.  We took a brief break for Turkish coffee and mineral water and stopped by the apartment briefly for a change of clothes.

Old New Synagogue, Prague 2011 
After a quick lunch along the Vltava River (poor quality even for tourist food) we made tracks to the Old Jewish Quarter.  After gazing at the outside of the Maisel Synagogue, we paid 200 Czech crowns each to visit the Old-New Synagogue.  This simple early gothic style synagogue is the oldest functioning Synagogue in Europe.  Dating from 1270, it also is one of the oldest buildings in Prague.  The structure has survived fires and pogroms, and is the religious center for Prague’s Orthodox Jews.

The nearby Spanish Synagogue showcased elaborate interior decoration.  The Spanish design surpassed the many baroque style churches we visited as a true work of art.  Within its walls we learned of the many famous Jews born in the Czech Republic including the writer Franz Kafka, composer Gustav Mahler, and Sigmund Freud, founder of Psychoanalysis.

A good meal in Prague was a real find.  We capped off our last evening in Prague by eating at the King Solomon Restaurant in the Jewish Quarter, and relished superb kosher food of vegetable soup and roasted lamb served over spinach.

Jerusalem Synagogue, Prague 2011
This morning we dodged several tour groups on a walk to the Jerusalem Synagogue during our last few hours in Prague.  A sight to behold!  This hidden jewel is in a Moorish style and is awesomely decorated with Art Nouveau flourishes.  Art Nouveau may have started in France but certainly reached a height in Prague. 

Royal Gardens, Prague Castle, 2011
Who wouldn’t fall in love with Prague with all its architectural beauty?  Besides the hordes of summer tourists, my only reservation was that almost everyone smoked.  The smell of stale tobacco hung cloyingly in the air of most bars and restaurants. The lack of indoor air quality made me all the more grateful for peaceful open spaces like the Royal Garden of the Prague Castle.

Travel tips:  Use restaurant recommendations in a good travel book (wish we’d followed this advice).   There are lots of mediocre tourist restaurants that we should have avoided.  Another useful tip: There’s a small supermarket inside the Prague Airport with plenty of good fruits and vegetables and lunch food.

Weight gain in Prague?  Unfortunately yes.  Too much apple strudel (though we shared) and three days of rainy weather with little exercise!  Will I arrive home with extra pounds?  It’s going to be a squeaker now with only one more week to go! 

Yours in joy and health!


View from Prague Castle, 2011
Hotel Europa, Art Nouveau Prague, 2011

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