Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Adventures in Bohemia: Old Town Prague

Týn Church
Municipal House and beautiful Art Nouveau architecture
Our Bohemian journey continues in Prague. I visited Prague when I was a student in Vienna, but that was 11 years ago, so it was nice to return and explore it with Jaap. It was his first time going there. It could not have been better!
Breakfast in our apartment
We rented an apartment close to the Little Quarter and a short Metro ride from all the Prague hot spots. It was nice to make breakfast "at home" each day and truly have our own little space. 
I said earlier that this vacation was nothing short of perfect, that included the weather as well. Mid 20s and sunny! Jaap wore shorts and sandals each day. It really felt like spring. Apparently Eastern Europe was experiencing a heat wave while we were there. Perfect timing. I'm not gonna lie. Coming back to the Netherlands was a little a depressing. Okay, it was very depressing, but I've adjusted. Back to rain coats and frizzy hair.
We spent one day walking around the Old Town hitting some of the popular sights. Pictures of the Týn Church, watching the Astronomical Clock strike the hour, and walks over the Charles Bridge. 
Can you find Jaap here?
Snacking on strawberries at the Havelská Market
We're musicians and huge classical music fans. The Czech Republic's musical culture is so interesting and rich. Smetana, Dvořák, and their huge love of Mozart. We tried to take advantage of this history while we were there. We stopped by the Smetana museum next to the Charles Bridge one afternoon. Travel tip: If you want some peace and quiet from the crowds, go to this museum. I can't say it's the most interesting place, but we were the only people there and it gave us a nice break from all the tourists. It was nice to read about his life, musical contributions, listen to Má Vlast and especially the Vltava. It's one of my favorite symphonic works of all time. 
Me & Smetana
Later on we visited the Jewish Quarter and actually learned a lot. Both of us acknowledged that we had never been to a synagogue before. It sounds strange, but this was a first for us. The Jewish Quarter consists of several synagogues and the Old Cemetery. The museum wasn't just about the history of the Jewish community in Prague, but also about Jewish rituals, customs, and traditions. It was very interesting. 
For us, the most interesting part was an exhibition of children's artwork from the concentration camp Terezín. It's a small gallery inside one of the synagogues. I was fascinated at the range of emotions children portrayed in their sketches while living in a concentration camp. Many of the pieces portrayed their current hardships at the camp, but I was surprised at how many sketches portrayed happy emotions and good times they remembered. It was very powerful and sad.
Ceremonial Hall
A highlight was visiting the Old-New Synagogue. The oldest synagogue in Europe.
Old-New Synagogue
We saw a lot of Prague on our first day. Lots of walking, but also lots of resting in romantic spots. Here we are on the Charles Bridge listening to some street performers. A nice spot to enjoy each other's company. 

On another note, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my "adventuring" Dutchman, Jaap. Today we're celebrating three great years of happiness. Here's to many more years of love and adventures together. XOXO.

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