Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 3 Saturday: Touring With Guide

I planned today a bit around the free walk tour. It was rather cold that day because of rain during the night. After breakfast I ventured into the city again for the tour.

The meeting point: Near the Astronomical Clock.

The starting time: 11:00 and 14:00 for 3 hours walk tour.

I arrive at the spot around 10:45. The guide of this particular group will be the one carried light blue umbrella. With a little time to kill I wandered around a bit. It was not long before peopel start gathering around. In the end we became a sizable group of almost 20, including a bunch of young french tourists :P

Our tour guide of the day, a young Canadian woman who came to Prague with her bf, she started the tour with some tidbits about the Astronomical Clock. She told us that when the clock was finish, the city councilmen were very happy with it that they invited the designer/maker to dinner, in order to poke his eyes so he cannot make a better clock elsewhere...

Next it was a bunch of cross signs in the ground in front of the city hall. She told us that the crosses were there as a memorial to the knights who were slain on the spot protecting the city.

Then she led us around the another church and another one surrounding the old square including a plaza with Roman style decors. Then she led us to the Jewish quarter, pass a building with colourful fresco. The building has Hardrock Cafe, she said it was controversial when Hardrock cafe was first announce their plan of buying this building. The neighborhood and the city thought it would not fit well with the surrounding and atmosphere of the area. However, the issue drop after Hardrock cafe said they will pay for the maintenance of the fresco on the front of the building.

Next we continued to Charles Bridge. During our journey across the bridge, we learned that the statues on the bridge will be replaced periodically overtime. And the original ones are kept in the museum nearby. There are also a few tidbits regarding the statues on the bridge:

  • Christ on the cross with Hebrew scripture on the top in gold: This one was said to be the result of how a thief was caught who turn out to be jewish. So as a punishment the Jewish community was fined by being ordered to create this statue.

  • A plague and statue of St. John of Nepomuk: He was a priest who refuse the king's order to divulge the queen's confession to him because the king was suspicious that the queen might not been faithful to him. The king ordered the priest to be tortured for the night. The priest relent and by the morning the king gave him one last chance to divulge the confession. The priest complied by saying that he will only tell one soul in this roomand the king agreed. He then told everybody to clear the room except for a dog. This, of course, make the king furious and ordered the priest to be thrown into the river. It was said that were five stars shine on the spot where the priest hit the water. Thus, the statues of him were usually include halo of five stars which usually depicted with Jesus or Virgin Mary. The plague under his statue is said to given love fortune or money fortune depend on which plague you touch with your left hand.

After reach the other side of the bridge, we got a little pit stop at a convenience store. And then we began our trek toward the castle. But first we walked by the a small bridge which was said a mean old woman used to live in. And across from that is the location of Lennon wall. The Lennon wall is a wall that youngster used to paint anti-communism graffiti on it. The police then paint the graffiti over but new things would be painted on soon after. This routine stop after the communism were gone from Czech and police finally concentrate on their more important duties :p Nowadays, the graffiti still going on, over the graffiti that's already on the wall. Our guide said that the wall change everyday, and she gets to see the progress as she came daily as the guide.

Next we continue toward to castle. This path was not as steep as the one I used on Friday. It even have steps. Along the way she pointed out that there are many embassies in the area and that the buildings in those times use symbol instead of numbers as the sign to differentiate each houses.

We finally arrived at the castle. The guide gave us a brief history of the place. I don't remember much, it could be read online anyway. The tour ended at the exit on the other side of the castle. The guide gave us the location of her recommended traditional Czech restaurant. After we split, I eventually decided to pay for the ticket (the cheap one) to enter the 'Golden Lane'.

The Golden Lane was comprised of a row of small houses which has been converted to souvenir shops on the first floors and a museum on the upper floors which seems to take the space of the second floors of all the houses combine. Some of the shops sell nice items like metallic bookmarks with matching symbols, one sell Christmas tree ornaments and another sell traditional soap and bath products. I did not buy any though… As they are quite pricey and the later two look rather fragile.

At the exit of the Golden Lane, there is an entrance to the tower which has a dungeon basement where prisoner were kept in at a bottom of the pit. I went inside to take a quick look. There was not much to see but

Then I walked back to the main church on the castle. There was a long line of people queuing to get inside St. Vitus Cathedral. I went to queued up and it was not long before I got in. The inside of the church was beautiful. I took many photos :)

And then I left to leave the castle ground the same way I did yesterday. I found out that the restuarant with scenic hillside view was close for private event. It seems that I was lucky to have went to the castle the day before otherwise I would have miss that path. So I have to go down hill on the perhaps official path which had not a lot to see except for stone walls and cobble stone paths. It all came out around the same path as the last times and then I use the subway to get back to my hotel room.

After a brief rest I went out again for something to eat. I am not sure what I had then but it was probably some Panini in the fastfood chain near by.

I rest that night pondering whether I should buy a tour trip out of the city since I already visited most of the free (and some paid) tourist spots.

No comments: