August 27, 2011
I hinted yesterday that Prague is a wonderful city. I understated the case.
Take away the years lost to Soviet puppetry, and Prague would be in the same category as Paris, Rome or London. The location and history are top notch. They were among the leaders in the Reformation, they were members of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and they have the largest castle in the world (according to Guinness).
OK, they have 16 extraneous letters in their alphabet and their hospitals look like defunct Florida retirement communities. This is what Totalitarianism and Communism give you - an entire country looking like poorly built retirement homes. They are still healing two decades later.
Yet there is so much of the pre-Soviet history to see - and it is everywhere. The sidewalks (all mosaics) are narrow and provide frequent hints of the next discovery.
We found a great art exhibit off the beaten path. We were the only people there and the kids all found paintings that they truly enjoyed.
Before I go further, I should note that we started the day without the Beautiful One (Susie). On the advice of the English-speaking doctor, she rested and hydrated all day. We missed her, but were all happy that she was relaxing. We (on her orders) took in an aggressive day. I estimate that we walked around 20 kilometers or 14 miles.
We saw a lot. This could take a long time, so I now plan to engage in Speed-Blogging. Like Speed-Dating except without the creeps! I will add pictures later as uploading the shots adds a lot of time to the process.
The Main Square is massive and features a massive statue of Jan Hus, a Christian reformer that predated Martin Luther by 100 years. He suggested that the Church focus less on wealth, that the Bible should be written in the worshipper’s tongue and that priests should not be the intermediaries to God. In short, he beat Luther to the punch. Why do we know about Luther and not Hus? The printing press enabled Luther to get his word out quickly and efficiently. Without this tool, Hus relied on speeches. Until he was burned at the stake. That really slowed the pace of his speaking engagements.
Here is the one picture I managed to upload. It is the famous Astronomical Clock that predicts the phases of the Moon and the Zodiac. It has moving parts and a minor show each hour.
Getting married in the main square is apparently a big deal. We have seen no fewer than 6 different couples. On one hand, it is so lovely. On the other hand, it feels like a wedding factory, with new couples popping out of the Wedding Hall every 90-120 minutes. At one point, Terrill yelled at me to come and take a lovely picture of a couple from behind. What she did not realize is that on the other side of the couple was their official wedding photographer who now had an excited 13 year-old Texan in the frame of his shot.
Music is everywhere. We saw a trio of accordian, upright bass and bassoon play Czech folk music. I suspect that this might be the worlds only trio of bassoon, bass and accordian in the world. If not, it should be. We saw a dixieland band (!?!?). We came upon some excellent musicians at a restaurant who were just jamming. We were hoping that their playlist and Susie’s would intersect so that she could sing with them, but alas, her knowledge of country music and White Snake (their favorites) is limited and that’s what was offered to her. They did get Liam to play guitar with them. When I went to the bathroom, the lead singer asked Susie to dance. When I returned, he handed her back to me and then asked Virginia to dance. Fun. Their playlist was eclectic and American/Western (all sung in Czech):
They have a Museum of Communism. It is over a McDonalds. I kid you not. I think this is awesome.
Our first day in Prague was 90 degrees. Our host said that it is the hottest day in 30 years. At least we think that is what he said. He also said “the washing machine, how you say, I am not the friendly with it”, so we are never quite sure what he is telling us. His wife’s English is much better, but he is the one that has driven us around to explain the lay of the land. Needless to say, I am not completely sure of the lay of the land after his explanation.
After Texas, 90 degrees seemed OK, but the people of Prague act like it is the end of civilization. It reminds me what happens in Texas when it is icy. No one knows how to deal with it. Few places have AC. They have water trucks driving around the city spraying workers and even tourists. Truly amusing.
I am holding the team up this morning, so I will add more (and photos) later!