Never really seriously considered going to Prague (Praha). Of course I’d heard about it. Actually heard real promising things. That it was supposed to be really beautiful. Anyway, I got invited to go to this city in the Czech Republic and went. The weekend of 11th of february to be precise. We flew in from Amsterdam on an evening flight thus arriving in Praque by night. A taxi was waiting for us at the airport. Good job too as it was freezing. LIterally I mean, it was minus fifteen. The taxi ride through a seemingly deserted city was promising as well. Since it was snowing vigourously, the taxi could not speed and the city looked rather fairy tale like, what with the snow, the friendly street lanterns and the beautiful buildings. The mere sight of this gave me a hunch saying this weekend was going to be a real treat.
We stayed at the Deminka Palace hotel. Grand name for a reasonable apartment hotel. We had a King suite consisting of a bedroom, a kitchen annexe lounge, a good bathroom with bath, bidet and a spacious hall. A very nice suite indeed with balcony and high ceilings. Wonderful wooden parquet on the floor, yet also freshly stylish. Actually I can recommend staying here. The breakfast buffet was good and next door was the Deminka restaurant/bar/cafe so all very handy. Weirdest thing on the bar menu though:
Somehow drowned man with swollen stomach did not seem very appetizing…
Another surprising fact: non-smoking policy had not yet reached Prague. So in every bar, restaurant, café, smoking was allowed. Fortunately we found some modern places where smoking was not on.
The hotel was in a street next to the Narodni Museum (National Museum of paleontology and mineralogy etc) which is at the end off the Wencelas Square. Although a tube station is in front of the museum we preferred walking. I must admit I had to cover my face with my shawl in order not to have my nose freeze off at times even though the blue sky was spotless. So we walked over to the Old Town square to find the Astronomical Clock.
Although a nice piece of craftmanship, I was not too interested in it. I’d seen a nice clock in Paris as well, so I was more interested in the square itself and the buildings surrounding it. It looked charming to me.
As a bit of a flora and fauna fan I immediately spotted a row of pigeons sitting closely together in the sun on the St Nicolas church.
This church was the first we entered and it was amazing. Unfortunately pictures are nothing compared to the real thing but here goes..
After visiting this lusciously decorated church we took to the right in front of the church, just around the corner is the birthplace of Franz Kafka. Since we were on our way to the Bedrich Smetana museum to kick off the weekend we decided not to visit the house just yet but this is what it looks like on the outside:
We walked to the river. Splendid sight. We were so very lucky to have this wonderful sunshine.
Then we passed the Charles bridge which we would cross after visiting the museum. The museum is but a block away from the bridge. It’s very happily situated overlooking the water.
The Smetana Museum is situated in a lovely building overlooking the Moldau. It is not a huge museum but it’s a little gem for the lover of classical music. Besides all the photographs and paraphernalia of Smetana, there is the following feature which I personally loved:
The conductors stand with examples of Smetana’s music. Just pick up the baton and point it at one of the chosen music pieces and the orchestra plays at your command..
For a minute you feel like a conductor yourself…
We continued our route and walked back to the Charles bridge. Since it was friday and february there were surprisingly few tourists about.
Everywhere you look, you find something beautiful, both the statues on the bridge and the views from the bridge are picturesque and lovely. The wonderful state of the buildings creates a sensation of being somewhere where graffiti and ugliness have not yet darkened the aspect of the city. Such a surprise. It gave me a feeling of having set foot in a place where beauty is revered and where time has nearly stood still.
Prague castle taken from the left side. Quite the fairy tale castle..
A little down the road we stumbled on a restaurant. They advertised their meals on this board outside, however instead of attracting us they repelled us with the following:
Pig slaughter soup and Pig slaughter goulash… all but appealing for a vegetarian..
Walking back to the bridge we passed the oldest vineyard overlooking Prague. We were starting to get a little peckish. A colleague of my friend had advised him not to eat in the places directly on the squares but rather look into restaurants a few streets off the main squares. Better value for money and nicer food, or so he said. So we walked up a street behind old town square. We could not really find the restaurant recommended to us, but I noticed a sign saying ‘Maitraya’. My attention was drawn and I proposed we try this restaurant. Oh and what a good choice that was! Not only it turned out to be a vegetarian restaurant but it had the Tibetan Mantra Om Mane Padme Hum painted delicately on the walls and it simply turned out to be a wonderful find..
Besides, the tea came in a soupbowl and the food was simply delcious. I had the loveliest selection of salads and as you can see on this picture indulged in a fantastic lemon pie with cream… YUMMY!
In the evening we went to a concert that took place in a monastery. It was a modest concert with 4 musicians (harp, harmonium, violin, alt voice) but it was well played and we rested while enjoying the performance. When the harp played ma vlaste by Smetana in a smashing solo performance I felt really happy. I think this melody is so beautiful..
There weren’t very many in the audience, and those present were tourists, but still it was a nice concert so I wondered at the fatigued faces of the performing musicians.
The old town square looks very nice by night as well.
Then we called it a night. We walked back to the hotel, had a lovely bath and a nice cup of tea.
In the morning we set off to the Mucha museum. Alphonse Mucha is well known for his Art Nouveau posters. When you see them, you will probably think they look familiar. Nice posters. However, when you visit the Mucha museum, it will dawn upon you what an exquisite artist Mucha was. And such a prolific one. We were in awe of his work and I would recommend anyone to go to Prague if only to visit this museum.
Unfortunately taking pictures inside the museum was prohibited. The above pics are of the outside. We went over to the theatre designed and decorated by Mucha. I took pictures both outside and inside. Pics below are street view and view from the inside of the facade.
The grand café looked a marvellous place to have a tea, unfortunately we discovered in here that smoking in public places was still allowed in Prague. The only downer here.
The tea was good and the lovely ‘chariot de desserts’ made ones mouth water..