Monday, June 30, 2008

Angels in the Architecture II

Ah, the Problem with Prague...

...I don't know where to begin! The 4 1/2-hour train ride to get here from Berlin was stellar. We wound through beautiful river canyons lined with ancient villages & Victorian-era resorts--I saw my first European castle ruin on this train ride! It was perched high up on a rock formation; I almost fainted. (On the return trip we spotted several more!) Amazing.
The first thing I learned about Prague was that things are almost always older than they look. On one hand it was like walking through a Disney Land theme park; but on closer inspection these 1,000-year-old buildings have just continued to morph with the times. Below is a picture taken inside the Hard Rock Cafe (!)--note how they let the ancient poke through the modern! Also, zoning codes forbid the changing of original interior spaces. Amazing!
Our hotel (Best Western no less!) building has been a hostel since 1307!!! (Earlier records were lost due to a fire.) The hotel had a small elevator and perfectly modern plumbing. The city intentionally raised itself 3 meters in the 1500's to avoid the constant flooding damage. So, every building has a cellar that dates to around 1100 or so!! The next 2 pics show across the street and down the street from our hotel!!! All this to say that people live and work in these buildings--or commute to apartments here from jobs in a newer business district. Amazing!
Our first day in Prague we signed up for a 6-hour walking tour and the next few pics are from that tour. Our guide, Omar (a Palestinian whose father came to Prague as a journalist and never left) was SO knowledgeable & passionate about the city (and adorable to boot!). Time & $ well spent.

The birdie below is real, the dudes on St. Charles's bridge are not. :) Cute, eh?
Here I'm getting blessed by touching a 12th century marker of St. John, a martyred confessor of one of the queens.

The next few days were filled with castles and boat rides and lunch along the medieval path to the castle up the hill--amazing.

One of the last things we did was hear a classical concert of Bach, Franceschini, Handel & Purcell done by pipe organ (below) & trumpet in Prague's oldest church--originally erected in 975!!! (2nd pic) Amazing. Amazing.

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BJ said...

You both look SO happy in each picture!

craigkendall said...

Maybe it's an optical illusion, but it sure looks to me like Laurie's hand is... er... well... somewhere it shouldn't be in that photo with the guide. Randy... you should monitor your wild and crazy wife a little more closely!