Prague: What a Difference a Day Makes!

Historic sign marking site of The Three Violins, now a restaurant.

Historic sign marking site of The Three Violins, now a restaurant.

OK, now we’re warm . . . . not Florida warm, but nevertheless in need of peeling off layers of clothes. We did not have rain today thankfully, despite the predictions, not one drop; although it was very cloudy on and off.

We started our day at the Old Town Hall and mingled with the crowds from around the world gathered to watch the Astronomical Clock strike the noon hour. Bells chimed, doors opened and figures emerged and a rooster crowed; it was fun to see and hear the live trumpeter blowing his horn from all four sides at the top of the tower.

Wandering around the winding narrow streets of the Staré Město was interesting and fun (probably more for Mother and me than my husband, since we ducked into a few stores). Our walk led us down by the river and eventually back across the Charles Bridge. The Bridge had more of a fair-like atmosphere today with musicians, artists and puppeteers entertaining the crowds. We were also all able to touch the cross commemorating the death of St. John of Nepomuk’s death in 1393; it is said if you make a wish while touching the cross, your wish will come true.

Eventually, we made our way into the Malá Strana (Little Quarter) in search of some of the historic house signs used to identify buildings prior to 1770. Many of the original signs had alchemical significance and therefore used allegorical symbols. Some simply defy understanding. The biggest concentration are on Nerudova Street – so that is where we headed.

Our first order of business was to find a comfortable spot for a light lunch – that’s easier said than done since many of the restaurants serve the heavier, typical Czech food midday as well as dinner. We were lucky to find “U tří housliček” (The Three Violins) a site of one of the famous original signs because the building was once the home of a family of violin-makers. Legend says it is also haunted and you can hear a demonic trio on moonlit nights. We all had salads and got back out on the street to continue our hunt for signs. Some of my favorite were: The Red Lamb, The Golden Key, The Green Lobster, a Turnip and the head of Medusa. If I lived in Praha (Prague) in the 1700’s the Medusa would be on my house.

We took our time and eventually made our way back to our hotel in the late afternoon for a rest and re-group.

After a simple pasta dinner at the nearby Phenix restaurant, my husband and I set off for a Ghost Trail tour. It was a fairly silly, amusing journey around the Old Town Hall and nearby streets. Our young guide, Martin was really cute and funny, his Czech accent alone made for a good ghost story. It was a perfect night for strolling around the Old Town and we extended our walk a bit to get some night shots of the dramatically lit buildings and have some gelato. From the Charles Bridge we were pleasantly surprised by a nearby fireworks display over the Vltava River.

Turning in early for a very early wake-up call.

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