I thought I would do a quick report on my 4 nights in Prague with 4 friends. This followed 4 nights in Paris, but we have had quite a few recent Paris reports so I am skipping that. But feel free to message questions if you have any. :)
Airport Transport: I had arranged pick up in Prague with Prague Airport Transfers both ways, for a total of @ $90 round trip, including tip. They were waiting for our arrival and were right on time for our early morning return pick up. For 5 people, that was a great deal.
We started with a wonderful Old City/Jewish Quarter tour in the snow with Jason of Living Prague Tours (https://www.livingpraguetours.com). He was knowledgeable, flexible, considerate, and gave us lots of information that we referenced over the next couple of days and as a bonus he was very interesting to just talk to over coffee mid-tour (had to do that to warm up - lol). We all agreed it was a perfect way to start our visit and we would happily take another of his tours if we ever make it back!
Afternoon and evening:
We spent wandering through the small market area at Havelské tržiště. I think it is normally a regular market but it had definitely made the switch to a Christmas market look. Then we headed back to the Old Town Square, for Christmas lights, the Astronomical clock, up the Old City Hall Tower, the viewing platform in the square, wandering streets from there, and lots of picture-taking, followed by dinner in a touristy restaurant on the square. The tree and viewing platform were up, and some of the small stalls were up but none were open there (Covid Christmas market closures last minute this year). But there were plenty of people out just enjoying the atmosphere and it was very festive and fun without being overcrowded.
Day 2. Today we learned all kinds of things.
First we learned about trams. As in don’t take it going the wrong direction…. Ha! We only used the 22, but hopping on, tapping our cards to buy the ticket on the tram, announcements of the next stop along with the sign in the front made it easy. We only took 3 rides so even a 24 hr pass wasn’t worth it. We just paid for each single ticket. And if you buy on the tram, you don’t validate because it prints the receipt with the time on it.
I had arranged a private 11:45 tour of the Strahov Monastery Library. Oh, goodness, it is seriously gorgeous. Without the tour, you can just stand at the door of the 2 big rooms and look in. With the tour, we were the only people in the library (since it closes for lunch) and we wandered through at our leisure with great information from our guide Ivana. We stood so close to the 1630 globe (California was hanging off North America) that we could have accidentally knocked it over by turning around, were an inch from books from the 10th to 17th centuries (put my hands in my pockets to keep from touching them), and saw the secret staircase up to the 2nd floor gallery. The Theological Hall, built in its current form in the late 1600’s has over 18,000 volumes (still used - we saw the space and process where one large book was checked out and being used) and the Philosophical Hall (everything not theological, legal, or medical), built in the late 1700’s, has over 42,000 books.
Following the tour, we took the tram back down to the Jewish Quarter to the Pinkas Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery. This hits you with a double whammy to stand there reading 77,297 names of the Czech Jews who died, and then to go upstairs and see the artwork of children held in Theresianstadt. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis left a powerful legacy through the art she taught and the 4,000 children’s drawings and paintings she hid and saved. I will leave it at that since I don’t have words.
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