Thursday, 5 June 2008

Our Visa Renewal Trip to Prague

To renew our visa, we flew from Moscow to Prague on Saturday morning, May 3 and returned Wednesday morning, May 7. Our hotel was quite basic, but very clean with a nice continental breakfast; and it was within walking distance of the LDS church, the metro, Old Town, and other places of interest. There are so many interesting buildings and statues in Prague. In fact, many buildings have statues on them. There are also many old historic churches, and we went into several.

Tower at one end of the Charles Bridge.
There are many statues on the building
seen through the arch.

(Sam is standing under the arch.)

Our first day in Prague, we crossed one of the several bridges over the Vltava River and climbed many stairs for a good view of the city. After getting to the top, though, it started to rain so it wasn’t an ideal time for taking pictures.

View overlooking the city
after climbing many stairs.

Next we walked to the Castle with its three courtyards, which is considered the #1 tourist attraction in Prague and is one of the largest fortresses in the world. The huge St. Vitus Cathedral is the most impressive structure within the Castle area.

St. Vitus Cathedral

St Vitus Cathedral - side view

St. Vitus Cathedral - interior

There are other important historical buildings in the Castle area, including the Old Royal Palace and St. George’s Basilica.

Old Royal Palace - Vladislav Hall

View from the Castle area

A little street by the Castle is called Golden Lane that is lined with tiny houses that resemble doll houses, and today they are mostly souvenir and book shops. Probably the oldest house on the street is #20 and looks almost the same as it did in the sixteenth century.

Golden Lane - #20, this 16th century tiny house is now a music store.

We enjoyed attending church on Sunday. I found it interesting that I could more easily sing in Czech than in Russian, because they use the same alphabet we do.

The sign says
"Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"

Church started at 9:30 a.m.
(Narene under the sign)

Another tourist attraction is the medieval Astronomical Clock on the wall of City Hall in Old Town Square. Every hour 12 apostles pass by the window above the dial with symbolic sculptures moving aside, and there is a Calendar Dial underneath.

Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square

Church of Our Lady of Tyn in Old Town Square

We walked several times across the Charles Bridge over the Vltava River, which is the oldest bridge in the city. It was built between the 14th and 15th century. It has 16 pillars, is lined with 30 statues and lamps, and has a Gothic tower at each end. The bridge attracts many visitors who enjoy watching the numerous artists doing portraits, checking out the crafts, and listening to a variety of musicians.

Charles Bridge over the Vltava River

One of many musicians on Charles Bridge.
This man had some unusual instruments.

Vysehrad is one of the most important historical places in Prague. It is a fortress on a high cliff above the Vltava River where the Church of St. Peter and Paul is located. We walked through the cemetery there and we were interested to see the surnames of several people in Martin who have Slovakian roots; for example, “Novotny,” the name of our neighbors back home.

Church of St. Peter and Paul

We walked around in the Jewish Quarter and took pictures of the architecture, but we didn’t go into any of the synagogues. The old cemetery was small in dimension, but I read it contains as many as 9 to 12 layers of burials and over 12,000 gravestones. Reportedly 100,000 people are buried there. During World War II, it is estimated that 90% of the Bohemian and Moravian Jews were killed.

Jewish Cemetery - over 12,000 gravestones

Jewish Quarter Town Hall

Old-New Jewish Synagogue

Our last afternoon in Prague, we decided to take the tram from one end of the city to the other to see what the other parts of the city were like. Our metro pass was also good for the tram as well as the city bus. They spot check for tickets, and I only was asked to show my ticket one time on the bus.

Countryside at the edge of the city of Prague

On Tuesday, I still had two things I wanted to do. I bought a small crystal vase, as crystal is one of the featured items representative of Prague. I also wanted to eat a kolache, which I knew about from the people in South Dakota with this heritage. We couldn’t find any place that sold kolaches, though, so I settled for a trdelnik. The dough is coated with beaten egg and flavored with sugar, vanilla and crushed almonds, rolled into strips, and wrapped around metal or wooden rods to bake by rolling over a grill. They were quite tasty.

Souvenir shop featuring Czech Crystal and Glass

We visited with some members of the BYU folk dancers who were in Prague to perform there on Wednesday evening. However, we flew back to Moscow Wednesday morning with happy memories of our visit to Prague.

Narene with some of the BYU Folk Dancers

We stayed at the Denisa Hotel.

Our last evening, we had a pleasant boat ride from Charles Bridge going under four bridges on the Vltava River.

Our boat cruise on the Vltava River

Sam & Narene on the Charles Bridge

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