The Most Valuable Resource (or: Melting in Prague)

Having finished my last exams at Cambridge (and hopefully ever!), I celebrated with a three-day trip to Prague. Wandering in the mid-30 degree Celsius sun, the most memorable aspect of the visit was the heat–and the price of water. Turns out it’s impossible to get free tap water in most restaurants in Prague, and beer is always cheaper than water, making water a precious commodity.

Nonetheless, despite the heat, we did enjoy ourselves, strolling around the city, both with the Sandeman free walking tour, and by ourselves. Here are a few photos from our wanders.

Astronomical Clock

Astronomical Clock

This is the beautiful Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square: the figures on the left are supposed to symbolize vanity and greed, while the figures on the right are death and pleasure. We didn’t see the “show hour” of the clock, as it apparently the 2nd most disappointing tourist attraction in the world (after the Mona Lisa–which I have to say is actually not that disappointing, other than the fact that it’s rather small, and behind many layers of protective glass).

Astronomical Clock: "Death" and "Pleasure"

Astronomical Clock: “Death” and “Pleasure”

Astronomical Clock: "Vanity" and "Greed"

Astronomical Clock: “Vanity” and “Greed”

Jazz band at Old Town Square

Jazz band at Old Town Square

House of the Black Madonna

House of the Black Madonna

We passed the House of the Black Madonna (above), built in cubist style, on our walking tour. The tour guide as well as most of the audience agreed that the best description of this architectural style is “ugly”. I didn’t find it quite so repulsive; on the contrary, it added to the diversity of Prague architecture, and thus part of the appeal of the city. According to our tour guide, the story behind this house and it’s name (as well as the black statue on the corner) is that a fire had once destroyed everything, leaving only a “madonna” statue, which had miraculously survived, but had turned black.

After the walking tour, my friend and I joined up with four other tourists to cross the river and trudge up a hill to go to a beer garden for a drink and lunch. The climb was difficult in the heat, and the restaurant next to the beer garden was overpriced, but the views from the top were spectacular!

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After leaving the beer garden, we continued walking on the top of the hill until we reached Prague castle (Pražský hrad). It was too hot to pay much attention, so if I want to learn more about the castle, I’ll have to go back to Prague! The pictures I did take were all from the St. Vitus Cathedral. Here it is below:

Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad

Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad: St. Vitus Cathedral

Inside the cathedral, we were greeted by a refreshing cool atmosphere and by a multicolored lightshow created by the sun passing through the stained glass windows. I’ve never seen anything like it before!
Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad

Prague Castle/ Pražský hradActually, it turns out (as I learned by eavesdropping on a tour guide) that the stained glass windows are actually from the 1920s–they nevertheless remain breathtaking.

Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad

Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad

Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad

Prague Castle/ Pražský hrad

 

After we left the castle, we parted ways from the others we met, and crossed the river again, this time on Karlův Most (Charles Bridge)–a nice walk, but one that terminates at Karlovy street: i.e., tourist hell. The passerby is accosted from all sides by storeowners, leaftet-touters, and show-promoters. Luckily, we didn’t fall prey to them, but veered off onto a side street at the first opportunity.

Karlův Most (Charles Bridge)

Karlův Most (Charles Bridge)

View from Charles Bridge

Besides “sightseeing”, we also took plenty of time to simply wander the city and take in the atmosphere (or perhaps more accurately, given the temperature: to “give in to” the atmosphere). Here are a few more snapshots from around the city.

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Exhausted

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Old Town Square

Old Town Square

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This entry was posted in Architecture, Education, Travel, Life Philosophy, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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