Last kiss in Prague…

April 13, 2009 17:06 – 17:06

We’re spending our last night in Prague doing laundry and making reservations in Innsbruck. My sister Sharon was kind enough to call the 800 number for, since we don’t have a phone.

It turns out that the apartment building has a washer & dryer in the basement—one of each, unfortunately, so laundry has to be done in tandem, since we had enough for two loads. We’ll be done with laundry at about 11:30.

We began the day by heading for Karl?v Most (the Charles Bridge). If the diacritic doesn’t survive, it should look like Karluv with a little circle above the “u”. Most means “bridge” in Czech. It’s a pedestrian-only bridge, lined with all kinds of people vending crafts, jewelry, caricatures, and even food. Here’s the approach to the bridge.

I’m not sure who or what this guy is. I’m positive, however, that I’ve seen him elsewhere in Europe or North America. I’ll have to look through other pictures to see.

And, here’s the bridge itself.

It has all kinds of statues on it.

And vendors.

And the views from the bridge are pretty spectacular, too.

Musicians, an organ grinder with a fake monkey, and tons of tourists make for a hectic crossing. Unfortunately, Karen & I lost each other when I stopped to take some pictures. Fortunately, I did eventually find her.

These guys sounded really good.

And, of course, the other end of the bridge.

Hi, sailors!

Yeah, I’ll just bet they want to take you on a boat trip.

Walking up Karlova Road, there were additional vendors, and little cafés with people enjoying lunch and the 71 degree temperature and blue skies.

I had looked up the location of Prague’s Unitarian church last night, and found that it was just at the other end of the Charles Bridge. So, we decided to pay it a visit, of sorts.

They have a beautiful area inside that they rent out for performances. It’s called Fantastika, I think.

Czech Unitarians have nine principles, instead of our seven. I’ll have to Google for a translation at some point to see what the differences are. I’m surprised, however, that “tolerance” is the same in English as in Czech.

Rev. Mark Shields gives services in English the 1st and 3rd Sundays. Silly me, if I had used my head, we would have gone there yesterday for the Easter service in Czech. But, I wasn’t thinking.

Here’s Karen standing in front of the church.

And here’s me.

Leaving the church, we wanted to see the areas where the Soviet tanks and troops came in 1968 when Dubcek tried to free Czechoslovakia. The areas were the old town square and Wenceslaus square. Here’s the old town square.

There’s a famous astronomical clock there, too.

We’re both getting tired of cobblestones, by the way. They really slow you down and can trip you up. Someone asked if the Easter bunny comes to the Czech Republic. Apparently, he does.

We shared one of these things, called trdlo. It was okay, but we’re really glad we got just one. We couldn’t even pronounce one of them—let alone two.

We next headed for Wenceslaus Square. It really did look big enough for Soviet tanks and troops. Little did Dubcek know that he was about 20 years too early. He did however live to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Not sure a Churchill cigar shop would have gone over very well in the Soviet era.

From there, we wanted to get a taxi to take us to Manes for lunch. When you want a taxi in Prague, the safest way is to go to a “fair place”. Otherwise, you can get cheated, we hear.

About 10 minutes later, we arrived at Manes (pronounced man-iss), where we enjoyed the meat sampler for two and a couple of Krusovice beers. Everything was delicious, and the view out the front window was very nice.

After lunch, we headed for the Prague Zoo. It’s one of the best in Europe, and features many modern habitats. As FONZ members, we got into the Prague Zoo free! This is not the first time being FONZ members has saved us a bundle. Once, although I’ve forgotten where, the admission price for the family was more than the cost of joining FONZ at several zoos we’ve visited. If you’re fond of zoos—and I am—joining FONZ is a bargain. It also gets you free parking at the National Zoo, as well as a 10% discount for anything you buy at the zoo.

I usually go nuts with my camera at zoos, and today was no exception. But, I’m going to share just a few pictures that I found interesting or amusing. Below, a zoo-goer apparently lost their Ray Bans. Guess who found them, and was trying to determine whether they were edible?

I don’t think they were hers.

This is a Cuban butia. I’d never seen one before… but it seems similar to the nutria, which is now pretty common in North America.

This creature below is a Patagonian mara. I don’t believe I’d ever seen one of those before, either.

The zoo is very hilly, and there’s a cable lift that takes people up and down. I didn’t ride it, but I’m sure that Katie would have loved it.

There was a peck of peccaries, there, too.

And, what zoo would be complete without a coati or two?

We left the zoo on the Zoo Bus. Karen had a seat—I didn’t. Let me just say that if you ever want arm and leg exercise, you can find no better workout than standing up on the moving Zoo Bus. The Zoo Bus delivered us to the C line, where we got our first taste of the Prague subway system. Unlike the Paris system, there are lot of escalators, which means that riding the subway actually saves energy rather than using it. For using public transit, you buy tickets that are good for 75 minutes, all day, or three days. The 75-minute tickets cost 26 korunas, which is about $1.30. You stamp it inside the vehicle (for trams and buses, or as you enter the subway station), and you then have 75 minutes to complete your journey. Nobody ever checked our stamps, but apparently, there are fines if you’re caught cheating.

Here are some shots of what the subway looked like.

We saw lots of this sort of thing in Prague.

And that, suitably enough, is the last picture I took today. Right now, we’re waiting for our last load of laundry. It should be done in another half hour. Tomorrow morning, assuming the car is where we left it, we’ll hit the road for Austria.

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