|St Vitus Cathedral on the Prague Castle grounds|
|Jo on the right|
We weren't the only van on this tour and everyone gathered together.
We met our v. adorable twenty-something year old Czech tour guide. Like every other Czech, she was fluent in English and heavenonlyknows how many other languages
|Our guide for the day|
Our tour guide told us all about our current local, then marched us to a second spot. From there she told us all about the 2nd Czech President Edvard Benes, at the base of his statue. Asked to take the photograph for a v. sweet couple from Asia, I did so. They liked the photo so much they made a happy fuss over it so I was asked to take several other photos for other people. Hum... second career on the horizon? Just kidding, but it certainly started us all group bonding. Our tour guide also gave us a choice of lunchs which were a part of the tour. Jo said we were going to have an awesome dinner so she was going light on lunch. I did the same and ordered salad.
|The Czech Republic's John Adams|
Now we headed out again, walking further downhill to the great palace, which as can be seen below, is quite the popular tourist attraction.
Our guide told us we'd meet back in front of the palace, after we'd had 20 minutes to enjoy the area on our own. That gave everyone time to walk around and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
|A motley pair|
Nearby there was a long row of independent booths.
|Booths by the castle gates|
The booths had all sorts of wares for sale, some manufactured using old ways, on the spot.
There were plenty of heavy duty snacks
including all the yummy Klobásas you could eat.
And if you weren't open for buying stuff or snacks, you could wander over to the edge of the palace mesa and look down to the panorama of the rest of the city.
|Looking down towards the central area of the city|
Thank heavens, the line into the inner castle area moved fairly briskly.
From the inner circle I got to watch as the royal guard goose-stepping their way to the front gates.
The castle grounds was chock-chock-a-block full of impressive buildings off all sorts. In the courtyard, there's the Královská Cesta Fountain, that dates back to the late 17th century.
|the Královská Cesta Fountain|
|Area in front of St Vitus Cathedral|
|St. George's Basilica, which is pretty in pink|
A big hit with the tour group was Mr. here on the left. Smug looking isn't he? Lots of women in our group touched his naughty bits in exchange - or so we were told - for increased girlie type fertility.
This git gets his nads handled & patted so often that his boy bits have been polished to a golden sheen. No wonder he seems so smug.
Which was oddly situated near the toy museum. There were several museums on the castle grounds but we didn't go into any of them.
|Toys on display outside the Toy Museum|
It took a couple of hours to wend our way to the rear of the castle grounds, and I looked around for the bus, but our tour leader had started down long, long l-o-n-g gently sloped stairs. I figured we'd get on the bus down the hill.
|The long and winding stairs looking upward...|
|Some of the yummy snacks I walked past along downhill trek|
|The awesome little man-made lake|
And still I wondered, where was the effing bus? Exiting the lower palace grounds we headed uphill on adorable little Prague streets.
|No wonder everyone says Prague is Europe's prettiest city - even the back alleys are show stoppers|
|A workman repaired damaged cobblestones. No wonder Prague's paved streets stay so lovely|
|Serving beer and chow since 1375 (that's the year, not the address)|
After lunch our tour guide told us were were headed for one of the most popular spots in Prague - Charles bridge. There we would take the river cruise included in the tour.
Slowly, my feeble and starved brain slowly mulled over the possible places we might board a bus - before or after the river cruise?
|Headed for the Vltava River|
|Looking up at the Charles Bridge|
|My reaction on hearing '6 hour walking tour'|
But I did not starve. Our faithful tour guide gave us all treats Some sort of jam filled, frosted gingercakes. I ate mine. I stole Jo's and ate it. I found another unguarded on board the boat and ate that too. I and my fat stores would survive the day. Pardubický perniks - Czech survival food!
Our cruise along the Vltava River was cool, relaxing and came with complementary drinks.
|Cruise boat beneath the Charles Bridge|
|Hydras guarding a river bridge. |
Note the discrepancy of 3 reptilian heads and four mammalian tits
Lovely pictures along the Vltava, which I took quick pix of and otherwise paid the scenery no mind. There were birds to shoot! Mute Swans - actually a native species - numbered in the hundreds, mallards, Great Cormorants, several corvid (crow) species, and even a magpie and a Little Grebe. Hurrah, BIRDS!
|Mute Swans by the hundreds, and mallards|
|Black-headed Gulls in alternate plumage|
Following the cruise, we all climbed back up to the Charles Bridge. The bridge was jam packed with tourists.
The Charles Bridge is not just a way to get from shore A to shore B.
|Our tour guide and Jo on the bridge|
|All sorts marched along the bridge|
Along the route there are artisans hawking their wares, performers putting on a show
|The Crucifix and Calvary|
|Saint uh... well, saint somebody over the crowds below|
|The statues are touched for blessings, rubbing the touch spots golden|
|St. Norbert, St. Wenceslas and St. Sigismund|
|Patting a pooch for luck, at St John Nepomuk's statue|
|Approaching the end of the bridge|
At the end stood the old town bridge tower.
|Awesomely gruesome gargoyles dot the tower|
|Below the tower, a ballet of swans performs|
Foot weary but arrived at the Old Town Square. The red roofed hostel - a dead gorgeous building - sits before the towering Church of Our Lady before Tyn.
|Grand and beautiful old town square|
|Fancy shops lined the square|
|There were carriage rides about the square|
|The clock celebrated it's 600th birthday 2 years ago|
"Clockmaker Hanuš, who perfected the clock on this town hall façade in 1490, was supposedly blinded so that he wouldn’t make a more beautiful version elsewhere. As the perfect revenge, Hanuš stopped the clock from functioning, and it was a hundred years before someone would figure out how to repair it. "
On the Zodiac clock below, the Sun & Moon revolve the clock-face. At it's corners stand figures representing Vanity (man with mirror), greed (a Miser with bag o' gold), Death (skeleton) and Lust. We were too tired to hang around watch, on the hour, the skeleton strike the time as the other figures shake their weary heads.
The lower clock is relatively new. It is face with the 12 apostles that bless the city on the hour. This gold faced clock was installed between 1865-1866 - it is the baby of the clock pair.
|The Sun and the Moon orbit the face of this clock|
A skeleton stands on the upper right corner
|The Apostles ring the clock-face|
I was thinking we could take a taxi back to our hotel, but despite the hustle and bustle of the square, there were no taxis. So, we walked. Whew! All in all we calculated we'd walked around 10 to 12 miles today. We survived a trial by walking the streets of Prague and lived to tell the tale.