A Czechered Present

April 12, 2009 17:16 – 17:16

After a breakfast of Czech pastries procured at the Tesco, we headed down to the reception desk to ask about parking. No spaces are going to be freed up while we’re here. The good news, however, is that our car was still where we parked it last night. In a little while, I guess I’ll look to see if it’s still there again. There are some garages, but they charge like $30/day. None of our stuff is in the car, so if it’s stolen or trashed… it’s someone else’s problem. Except for the hassle.

In any event, after checking on the car, we headed to the tram stop closest to the hotel to catch a tram to the Veletrzni Palace. This is the scene close to the apartment area where the tram stops. A tram is almost always in view.

Schedules are listed for the different trams lines that stop at each stop. At this one, for example, there are five lines that stop here. You seldom have to wait more than 5 minutes.

Karen thought this guy looks like Dan. I disagree.

This is what we saw when we got off the tram, across the road from the Veletrzni Palace.

No. Those aren’t the palace gates. In fact, we’re not sure what it is. Maybe we’ll find out tomorrow. The Palace, as it turns out, is an ordinary building. I have no clue why they call it a palace… other than “because they can.”

The “palace” is an art museum that houses an extensive collection of impressionistic art. It also has tons of Czech art—none of which we’d ever seen before.

Unlike the galleries in France, there were very few people at the Veletrzni Palace. So, unlike at the D’Orsay where we had a long line and huge crowds, there were no problems with having people “hogging” certain works. The view below is typical of what we encountered.

As was the case in most of the galleries we visited in France, the only rule here was “no flash.” So, I could photograph at will. Which I did. Over 500 pictures. But, I’m only going to post a few. The one below is by Maurice Utrillo—A Street in the Suburbs (1916). I’d never seen it before—but it’s beautiful.

This next one is by Paul Signac—again, one I’d never seen before. It’s called L’Hironelle Steamer on the Seine (1901).

They liked it, too.

This one is called Prague Buildings through a Window Screen. It’s by Herb Tyson. They have these translucent screens to keep out bright light. I noticed that for a lot of them, the buildings appeared quite impressionistic and artsy.

I failed to take a picture of the card identifying this next one. Fortunately, Karen did. It’s In the Kitchen Garden, by Camille Pissarro.

I have no idea what these people were reacting to. But, I enjoyed the expressions on their faces.

Here’s how a typical Czech family goes shopping for a new car.

Actually, they were French. Here’s how the guards at the museum make sure nobody uses a flash when taking pictures.

These two seemed to be enjoying the gallery, but looked a little wooden.

That was called Girlfriends, by Karel Dvorák.

Some of the Czech stuff was a bit surreal. This one is Two Women after Bath, by Emil Filla. You should have seen them before the bath!

Here’s a slice of the museum.

After the museum, we stopped at a nearby restaurant for lunch—Restaurace Lvi Dvúr. We both had the goulash—and it was delicious! We also had Svetly Imperial beer, and I was regretting having ordered the .3l. A .5l would have been better. Beer here, by the way, costs less than their cheapest bottled water. We’re told that nobody orders plain water. So, we’ve been doing the bottled thing. But, $3 for a half litre of water is a bit much.

We ate in a little outdoor courtyard. The sky was brilliantly blue, and it was about 70 degrees. No smoke wafted over, so it was perfect.

And, here’s what lunch looked like. The round things at the top of the plate were dumplings. It looks like they compress different breads into a log, and then slice them. They went well with the goulash gravy.

This was the first dish we’ve had on this trip that I want to replicate when I get home… except for the dumplings. They were okay, but fresh wheat or multigrain bread would have been better.

After lunch, we hopped onto a tram and went to the Prague Castle. We arrived just in time for the changing of the guard.

Whoops. Not quite. We don’t know who they were, but they weren’t the guards. These were the guards.

And here comes the change.

This is the interior courtyard.

This appears to be a chapel jutting from the inside of the castle.

Next door to the castle is St. Vitus Cathedral. It was too large to photograph.

It’s guarded by guardgoyles.

Inside, the stained glass windows were stunning. They created a light show on the interior stone walls.

These two young women were very excited by whatever they photographed.

Apparently, these guys got a few interesting shots, too. The guy on the right—in case you don’t recognize him—is Colin Firth.

And then the Pope arrived.

Holy crap! We’re not in Rome after all!

It was kind of hard to tell that it was a castle unless you went around to the side from the royal gardens.

Even then, it’s dwarfed by the church.

I wasn’t quite sure why this little fellow’s father let him stand in the road.

But, he was a little cutie pie.

Another happy Czech family enjoying the car they bought at the museum!

How much is that doggy in the window?

He was gleefully watching traffic go by across the way from where we were waiting for a tram. At first, he had a companion, and their heads went back and forth in unison as they watched the cars passing by. Apparently, Czech dogs are no different from dogs everywhere else.

After all that, we went back to the apartment and rested for a while. We decided that our lunch was good enough to be our last formal meal of the day. So, we strolled first to visit our car. It was still there. Then we went to the Tesco and picked up some delicious Edam (Eidam, here) cheese, smoked ham, turkey, and bread for making sandwiches. We also procured bakery items to have for breakfast tomorrow. And now, we’re sitting here blogging the day’s activities.

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