Thursday, December 15, 2016


Our wake up call this morning was to be at 7.00am.  At least we didn't have to have all our bags packed before breakfast. We had to be in the hotel foyer by 8.30am.  As usual breakfast was really good and we made sure we had a good protein breakfast, this helped us get through the day without needing to have a real lunch.  At breakfast this morning we found out that one of our fellow travelers took ill during the night and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.  Gary our tour guide was missing for most of the day as he had to take Beth to the hospital and then make sure that both she and Neville were looked after...  Gary did however leave us in the capable hands of our Czech guide George from the previous night.

We were driven up to Prague Castle and this is where our tour started from.  This castle dates back to the 9th Century and today it is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic.  This castle though was the seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia.  Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world occupying an area of almost 70,000square metres.  At about 570metres in length and an average of about 130metres wide.

The history of the castle stretches back to the year 870AD with the construction of it's first walled building and the Church of the Virgin Mary.  The Basilica of St George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded under the reign of Vralislav and his son St. Wencesles in the first half of the 10th Century.  A Romanesque Palace was erected here during the 12th century.  In the 14th century under the reign of Charles IV the royal palace was built in Gothic style.

We walked through all four squares of the castle, checked out the views , heard the stories and also visited the Basilica of St Vitus.  The Cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and is the biggest and most important church in the country.  It also contains the tombs of many Bohemian Kings and Holy Roman Emperors.  All except for one small castle are now owned by the State.

From here we wandered down through the Palace gardens, and through the Vineyards and headed towards Charles Bridge.
 We passed a really narrow side alley where they actually had a traffic light for a pedestrian.  (Only one person could pass through at any given time)  I had to take photos of course.  There was also some other different statues,  one was of two men pissing.  They were a sort of robotic statue and you could text a message to them, and they would pee that message into a pond...  Quite bizarre actually...

I was keen to walk across the Charles Bridge as I remember reading quite a bit about it when Pete was in Prague and had talked about it.
 The Charles Bridges is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava River in Prague.  It is just one of many many bridges here.  Construction on this bridge started in 1357 under King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th Century.

George (our Czech Guide) was an interesting and entertaining character and he told us that at the time of building this bridge they believed that if you used eggs and beer to mix the mortar, the bridge would never fall down and so they went through eggs from every district to contribute to the bridge building.  The roads were in really bad condition and one of the districts were worried about their eggs breaking over the rough roads that they needed to travel across in getting their eggs to Prague that they looked for a solution to protect the eggs and so they came up with the solution of boiling them.  When they arrived back in Prague and they tried mixing the boiled eggs into the mortar it didn't work so then they had to decide what to do with these eggs.  All the workers ended up having boiled effs on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 Up until 1841 the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's old town and adjacent areas.  This made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.

There is an avenue across the bridge of 30 mostly baroque statues and statures situated on the balustrade which forms a unique connection of artistic styles with the underlying Gothic bridge.  Most sculptures were erected between 1683 and 1714.  They depict various Saints, Patron Saints venerated at that time.  The most prominent Bohemian sculptors of the time took part in decorating the bridge...

From Charles Bridge we headed down Charles Street which was a narrow street that followed on from the Bridge.  It was built in the 12th century and was originally called Jesuits Street.  This narrow street was part of the Royal Route and has always connected the Old Town by way of Charles Bridge with the Old Town Square.  There are several Gothic and Renaissances houses along this route.

George our guide pointed out the Golden snake and told us this was where the first coffee shop in Prague was.  We also had to be wary of pick pockets in this area.  It is amongst the top 5 worst spots in the world for pickpockets.   We followed this street through to see the Astronomical Clock.

 This clock is a medieval Astronomical clock.  It was first installed in 1410 making it the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.

A legend recounted that the clock-maker Hanus  was blinded on the order of the Prague Councillors so that he could not repeat his work.  In turn, he disabled the clock, and no one was able to repair it for the next hundred years.

Our tour ended here and we were left to our own devices to get home.  By now my feet were throbbing so we just slowly made our way back to the hotel stopping for a couple of breaks and then stopping at Macca's for a cold drink just to cool down....

We got back to our hotel to find out the Neville (One of the men on our tour that had been taken to hospital in the ambulance that morning) had been diagnosed with pneumonia and was admitted to the ICU for at least 3 days and would then need a good week in hospital after that so both he and Beth would have to leave the tour.... I really was feeling for Beth as this was all pretty daunting for her, especially as it was their first big overseas trip.

It was pretty hot outdoors so Steve and I both came home and had a rest and a little sleep.  Whilst I had a rest, Steve set about trying to get all our washing dried.

At 6pm we had to be down in the foyer once more as one of our optional extras this evening was a trip out to a little Czech village to have a lovely Czech meal, with traditional music singing, dining and dancing.

On our way to the village we stopped to see a very sobering memorial at Lidice.  This was a small village that was completely wiped out by Nazi brutality under Hitler's orders.  They were wiped out as a punishment for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrick, the Nazi controller of Bohemia and Moravia.  It was quite sobering to hear the stories and see the memorials

From here we continued out to the country and went to a little restaurant called "Storyurch"  What a great night we all had. There were only 12 of us going, but it was a fun night of good Czech food, good Czech music and traditional dancing.  We had a really good time...

 Steve was included in one of their dances and I am so glad that I managed to catch it all on video.  It was a great night with some fun people. 
 We got home around 10pm.


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