Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Prague, Czech Republic

 Prague or Praha as the locals call it is the capital of The Czech Republic. It is the largest city in the Republic and is home to 1.3 million people.
Our tour of Prague began in the morning and the local guide for today was Veronica who spoke fluent English.

 The day's tour started with a short walk to the tram station not far from our hotel. Each of us were given a ticket and we had to verify the ticket on the tram via a ticketing machine. Since the ticket was only valid for half an hour after verification, it would only be a one way ticket to the Prague Castle.

 Riding the tram.
It was standing room only but since it was just a short ride, we didn't mind it.

 Veronica gave us a short briefing before we entered the castle.

 The first square inside the castle.

 The changing of the guards happened every hour. We managed to get choice location for a view of the changing of the guards. It was a show that never failed to draw the crowd.

 When the state flag is flying, that indicates that The President is within the country.

 The entrance to St Vitus Cathedral with Azmi looking at the crowd.

 The glass window from outside.

 The glass window from inside.
Visitors who wish to enter the main hall of the cathedral must pay an entrance fee, so we opted not to enter that part of it.

 Resting our old tired legs while waiting for the rest of the group to regroup.

 Veronica briefed us on The Golden lane. The little lane near the Prague Castle is lined with small houses. The gold makers of Prague used to live there in the 15th century and later they house the servants of the palace. Some information of The Golden lane can be found here.

 At the end of one street we saw girls being photographed with a statue of a naked boy. Upon arrival I saw a girl being photographed while she was rubbing the appendage of the statue with her hand but I failed to capture her picture as I was struggling to take out my camera from my back pack. By the time I took out my camera, this pretty girl had taken her place.

 She didn't seem to dare to do what the previous girl did and just place her hand near to the statues appendage. The frequent rubbing by girls who may feel mystified by the statues appendage or were seeking for some luck must have made the part shiny.

 On the way out from the castle compound we saw these street performers playing music. The one in red T isn't a bagpipe blower and all he had was a big tummy to drum on.

 On the way down the hill where the castle was located I saw this artist at work. He had only four tubes of acrylic paint with him, red, yellow, blue and white. From these four colours he created all the hues he needed.
 These are some of his finished work being displayed for sale.

 Giovani the painter obliged me and posed for a picture. An artist in the truest sense of the word, unlike this painter (me) who needed to buy all the colours of the rainbow before he could paint a picture.

 If you are hungry after visiting the Castle, no worry, there is a place to tuck in.

Below is a wine bistro with a view of Prague.

 Views from the bistro.
   From The Prague Castle we walked to The Senate building via a garden with a pool well stocked with fish.

 Immaculate garden

 The senate building where announcements used to be made.

The ceiling of the senate building is covered with paintings.

The park benches were used to rest our tired old legs. We had our lunch here too.

 On the way out we saw this water spout with a handle to pump the water out. Hidden behind me was a sign telling us not to push the lever up. it will revert to its own position after you have pulled it down.

We were walking towards Charles Bridge when my wife Fatthiyah turned around to see why I was lagging behind. The construction of Charles Bridge spanning across Ultava River in Prague began in 1357 under King Charles IV and was finished only in the early 15th Century. Until 1841, it was the only connection between the old town and Prague Castle. That was how important it was then.

Many portrait painters and artist plied their trade on Charles Bridge. The pretty girl must be a hard act for the painter to put on paper.

 Beside the bridge there is a water wheel. The guide told us that the wheel did not serve any purpose now other than being a tourist attraction. The channel that flows through here created this island on the left.

It was at this location on this island that a James bond movie (Casino Royale) was once shot. Malaysia has followed suit and managed to entice Shah Rukh Khan to shoot films to capitalize on his popularity and make famous the city the film was shot on location. For that he was given the coveted Datokship. Do you remember which film and which city Shah Rukh Khan made the film?

 Beside painters there were musicians who made their living by performing on Charles Bridge. These trio rendered beautiful songs and many stopped by to listen to them. Patrons are encourage to donate into their donation box perched on a folding chair.

 Cruise ships ply the Ultava River and the turning point is immediately after Charles Bridge. The weir placed across the river to raise the water level upstream will not allow the ships to negotiate further upstream.

 Veronica alerted us to the wooden protruding right upstream of the pillars of the bridge. She asked us to guess what the structure is for. My answer was to prevent the pillars from being hit by floating debris to which she said that I was quite correct but the exact use was to prevent ice during the winter from hitting them. I forgot about ice as the weather at the time of the visit was pretty warm.

 Almost at the end of the bridge on the Old Town side we saw this man prostrating himself on the bridge's floor with a paper cup in the grip of his two hands. With such an able body, I don't know if there is anybody who will take pity and donate money for his next meal. What a way to beg for money.

This is the tower on the Old Town side.

 After reaching the Old Town Square, Veronica briefed us on The Astronomical Clock. The clock was installed in 1410 and is the third oldest astronomical clock in the world but the oldest one still working.
The Orloj as it is named is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square.
Since it was still quite awhile before 4 PM when we would be witnessing it's chiming and the show of moving figures on the clock, Veronica asked us to take our own time and come back at 4 Pm to witness the event and afterwards she will take us for a another walking tour.

Upon entering a side street my wife saw these stalls selling souvenirs. She had found paradise! We bought a replica of the astronomical clock.

We forgot the 4 PM appointment with veronica and decided to spend more time shopping. Later we met many others who decided not to go on playing tourist and head hone for the hotel instead. With the Old Town Square being just next to Wenceslas Square, we know we are not far from home.

Seeing other tourists riding horse carriages or riding antique cars like the one below made me feel like doing the same to get back to the hotel with the tired feet not willing to go on walking the fairly short distance back to the hotel.


Gurindam Jiwa said...

In that photo of those street performers playing music, perhaps you should have showed your clarinet.

Just kidding, heh he...

Pak Zawi said...

Mazlae, Didn't want to spoil the mood of the other musicians and their listeners. Anyway my clarinet isn't much of a clarinet hehehehe.

mamadou said...

Very interesting travel journal Ayoh Awi!

Pak Zawi said...

mamadou, terima kasih. Di Mali lagi ke?