Monday, August 15, 2016

Prague Day One

Sunday, June 28, 2015

With time to kill before our rooms were ready, we set out to find some lunch and see a bit of the town.  We quickly found that the Prague Marriott was ideally located barely a block from Republic Square, two  market areas, an open tram hub,  and the main street leading to the Old Town Square.

There was some kind of festival going on at the far end of Republic Square. There were beer vendors and lots of stalls.  Need some cheese?

Or how about a selection of sausages?

Even our old friend from Nuremberg--the little cooked on a roller bun dipped in sugar.
This cornucopia of eats reminded us that we had not had lunch. We spied a restaurant just around the corner from the hotel that matched up with a card we had received at the desk for two free beers. Guess where we went? There was a boisterous party going on inside, but there were tables available on the outdoor patio and we settled down to order a Marinated Salmon Salad for Jan and a Sausage, Peppers, and pungent broth creation for me that came sizzling hot in an iron skillet. For some reason I didn't take a photo of our meal, but I did snap one at the table of two Asian guys near us.  It was a giant Pork Hock about the size of a bowling ball with various fixings laid out on a wooden trencher. I now call "Time Out" so we can eat.


Fulfilled and then some,  we headed out to walk a bit further.  We saw the Art Deco extravaganza called the Municipal House and resolved to come back for a more thorough look later.

We also took a look at the 15th century Powder Tower, which was originally one of the gates into the city. It stands at the top of the so called Royal Route that led down to the Old Town Square, then to the Charles Bridge, and finally to the Prague Castle.   

By this time we hoped our room would be ready. It was and it was pleasant and spacious. By the way you'll need some Czech Crowns in Prague. Euros are not the currency of the land here.  Any ATM will be glad to help you out.
We did a bit of laundry, took a short kip, and then headed out again. Back at Republic Square we noticed a colorful classical looking building with a large modern sign declaring it to be the Palladium.  

We entered and found a huge several story shopping mall inside the classical shell. How cool was that!  Everything from a Marks and Spencer's to a McDonalds all stacked up under an atrium topped by a skylight.


Outside once more we strolled through the Powder Tower gate and meandered along the narrow pedestrian only Celetna Street.  We reminded ourselves again that this was the ancient King's Coronation Route.  Now, as then I am sure, the street was packed with people and filled with restaurants, shops, and souvenir stalls to tempt them. This narrow medieval way soon opened out into Old Town Square, which was similarly packed with humanity.

We have been in several of these central public squares in the last week and they do make one wish that American cities, built mainly to handle road traffic,  had managed to include more spaces like this. It was crowded with tourists and locals, ringed with cafes and food vendors,  full of street entertainers,  and bristling with young people hawking city tour options while floating about on Seques.  Click to enlarge this and see the Seque down center.  It's a disorderly stew, but bursting with vitality. 

Towering over one side of the square is the massive Church of Our Lady before Tyn. 

Another church, St. Nicolas, is visible to the north.

The western edge of the square is dominated by the Old Town Hall Tower. The view from the top is said to be extraordinary, but our old legs were not about to try the climb.
Lower down on the building is the mechanical clock that draws tourists at the top of every hour. It has been doing its magic since 1490 ACE and is composed of three parts. Read more history by clicking on Prague Astronomical Clock
The golden dial is a traditional calendar. It shows the symbol of Prague Old Town in the center.  This is surrounded by the signs of the zodiac. Then comes a series of images picturing activities that occur during the various months of the year. The outer circle represent the day of the year with the current date on the top.
The center dial just above the gold one represents the medieval world with the earth at the center.  The blue section shows the heavens above the horizon and the brown part is the sky below the horizon. The further circles indicate the actual time in various systems.

Above the clock faces is a little house with doors that open when the hour is struck to show a procession of apostles on some kind of belt or disk. 

Off to the sides are other carved figures  with the most interesting being a skeletal death who pulls on a rope in time to the chimes.

The human action in the square still remains the most pleasurable.  It is where entertainers of all sorts vie for coins in their hats or guitar cases.  I liked this guy doing football tricks because it's a money raising talent not seen often in stateside buskers.

We treked back to our hotel in time to try out the pasta dishes in the hotel dining room and then decided to call it a day as Prague Castle was on the docket for the morrow.


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