Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bohemian Rhapsody, Part Two: Carry On, Carry On

Before I get started, here are some of the rejected titles for this blog series:

It's a Prague Eat Prague World
Every Prague Has Its Day
Poking and Prague-ing

Czech it Out
Czechs and Balances
Chubby Czecher
What the Czech?

A Scandal In Bohemia

Ok so our first day in Prague was not too eventful, just kind of walking around getting our bearings. We decided that Tuesday would be a museum day.

We first went to the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum. They had a really cool exhibit based on Orwell's 1984, with quotes from the book that were meant to be descriptive of communism in Czechoslovakia. They also had works from lots of well-known artists; it was a really nice collection. They had Mucha's Slav Epic, which we did not see because it cost extra, but after seeing some of his paintings in the Mucha museum, I kinda wish we had. Anyway, I was really hoping that Sadie could just walk through with me, holding my hand, but she basically refuses to be contained. If I set her down, she wants to roam free, so when she got tired of being reined in, we hurried through and left.

After the museum we had our favorite lunch of the trip. It was in a little pub just across the street from the museum. I had blueberry dumplings (seriously, America needs to get on the "sweet stuff for lunch" train); this was the only place we went to during the trip that had the sweet dumplings. For three lunch entrees and two beers, the entire meal was the equivalent of 12 euros! Food there is pretty cheap; even the touristy meals we had weren't super expensive compared to places we've eaten in other countries.

After lunch, we went to the Mucha museum. It was pretty small and expensive for the size, but I enjoyed it. If you buy tickets for the Kafka museum at the Mucha museum, they are half price. The reverse is also true, so it's actually cheaper if you go to the Kafka museum first. Anyway, they had some cool stuff, including proofs of some of his prints, so you can see some sort of intermediate stages in the process.

It was mid-afternoon at that point, and we had time to go across the Charles Bridge and see the Kafka museum.

Charles IV I think?

The Kafka museum was really cool. It was arranged to sort of reflect the tone of his work and I think Kafka superfans would be really into it because they had lots of documents and things that he had written. There was also some information about Prague at the time he was living there, and people he had known. Sadly, we had to kinda cut it short because Sadie got impatient near the end. 
I wanted to go to the gift shop to get some postcards, so I picked out what I wanted and stood in line. The lady at the register told us that we'd have to go to another register to buy things. So we went to that other register and stood there for a while, waiting for someone to come out. No one did. Eventually, I walked behind the counter to see if anyone was even back there. Nope. We chose to believe that was just part of the Kafka experience and left without the postcards.

Christmas Eve is kind of the day most things are closed, so we planned to do more things that involved just looking. We hit the Christmas market again, and I got this picture of the pastries I mentioned in the last post being made:

We went to go look at the famous Astronomical Clock, and we were there right at noon when it was about to go off. Of course, there was a huge crowd of people so the only picture I got was kinda from the side.

There are some cool mechanical things that happen when it goes off, but the crowd was a little intense, kinda like if they put the Mona Lisa on Bourbon Street. So, if you hate crowds, it's probably as cool to just see it between hours when you can actually get a good look at it. There was also a big Christmas tree in the square:

And a statue of Noted Reformer Jan Hus:

I want you to look at the sky/light in that picture and think about what time you would guess it was taken. Noon. That's what the sky looks like at noon here (and in Aachen... I think on the solstice there were fewer than 8 hours of daylight, which is fine with me).

We saw this, which I think is the powder tower:

And we had lunch at the Grand Cafe Orient, which is in a cubist building. At the museum the day before, we learned that Czech cubism was more about sculpture and architecture than it was about painting. I'm not totally sure what makes a building cubist, but Sadie had a tasty crepe!

I also snuck a pic of this person taking home her Christmas tree on the subway, because I thought it was kinda funny. I've gathered that in Europe, people, though not largely religious, make a bigger distinction between Christmas and Advent than we do in the US. People usually buy their trees the day before Christmas and then keep them up until 12th night/Epiphany/January 6.

We saw the Frank Gehry building, which I think is called Dancing House or something like that:

Before dinner we went back to the main square to look in an old church they have there. Here is the crappy picture I got from the outside. I was hoping to catch how the spires have a sort of Neuschwanstein thing going on.

We grabbed some hot cider and found a quick geocache before getting dinner. We had a place we wanted to go to, but even though we had read that it would be open on Christmas Eve, it was closed. We ended up eating at a semi-touristy local chain, but it was still pretty good. They even had a high chair for Sadie! She was so good during dinner. She got dumplings and could just eat them by herself from her chair. I got a humongous plate of ribs! Sadly I didn't take a picture of them, but I did get a picture of Sadie!

She looks exactly like Hunter!

Next time, I'll talk about the last few days of the trip!

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