If I thought we walked ’til we dropped yesterday, I was sorely (like, as in my feet, getit?) mistaken.
Today was our last full day in Prague, so after a hotel breakfast bar we loaded the bus and headed to The Communism Museum. I had been seeing these posters around town,
We walked up to see that the museum was inside a building that was also home to a McDonald’s and a casino. Oh, irony!
After the museum we had about two and a half hours of free time back in Old Town, but with enough time we could explore other neighborhoods if we wanted!
While the students scattered and shopped, chaperones had a leisurely lunch outside the National Gallery (a beautifully restored building full of mosaics) and then split for different errands, activities or shopping. I wanted to climb the Astronomical Clock, which I feel like I learned from the Galata Tower in Istanbul that anytime you can climb something to get a nice view of the city, just do it. I convinced Amy to join but had to pump her up a little (see below).
At the top, the small railing was super crowded but the view did not disappoint.
Below, I could see tons of people who stopped and gathered to watch what the clock does on each hour. We would get to see for ourselves later that evening!
Once the big group met up again, we drove a short ways out of the town center to meet a local guide at the Prague Castle. While Nadia from the tour company is with us the entire time, there are rules and regulations about using local tour guides in different countries who are appropriately licensed for that country, unlike Nadia (who is French). This is also to not take away any jobs of experts in those countries.
We got out at the Prague Castle and it was beautiful. I wish I had been more attentive to the stories and facts, but like I said, it’s hard to get close in a large group like ours…. and the jet lag struggle was real today. It’s been good though, being forced to be walking all day! If traveling on my own, I just know I would “quickly stop back by the hotel after lunch”, wake up at midnight, and take that much longer to get adjusted to the time zone.
The Castle is guarded by an official guard so cue to the “pose with guard” picture:
And the cathedral inside the castle was stunning. I enjoyed getting to talk with some of my art students who came on the trip about the different projects we did in class relating to rose windows and stained glass, as here we were seeing some in person!
We began our walk out of the castle and down the hill back into town for dinner. In Czech culture, you don’t throw a coin in a fountain or pond for a wish, but instead, if you throw a coin in a place, it means that you will return there some day. On our way down the hill overlooking the town, we walked through a beautiful wine vineyard with a small fish pond, and I tossed in a Czech koruna coin. Of course, being on a tour with students means there are several activities we’re doing that might not be my first choice, and I’m not able to participate in some that I would like to. But I would love to come back to Prague someday.
The last stop on our tour was the bottom of the Astronimical Clock, where we were arriving a little before 6:00pm, just in time to watch it activate on the hour and then head to dinner.
The tour guide explained all about how this mideival technology is amazing for still working and could even explain the way that all the hands worked! The outer is for 24 hours in a day, the middle is for the month (based on the stars and the symbols are astrological signs). The colored circles show when the sky is light or dark, and that’s as much as I can tell you. The second large bottom circle is hard to see but it has a white ring around the edges that is filled with names. In Czech, each person has their birthday but then everyone also has a “Name Day” that corresponds to one of 400 names they can be given according to a government registry. They receive presents and celebrate on this day also! The guide said that, while this is something that is starting to change, if you want to name your child something that’s not one of the 400, you have to modify it to the closest Czech name that has a name day! It seems restricting and supressing, but also an interesting way to preserve tradition…?
Finally, it was on the hour and the two small windows on either side of the small stone Jesus above the clock opened. You can see statues of the apostles going around inside and the skeleton (hard to see to the top right of the clock face) shakes to scare all the sinners to hell..? I think. It’s the best explaination I’ve gotten. I will update with more if I get clarification and there are more pictures from the day on my Flickr album. (Flickr is seriously a battle, ya’ll. I’m working on it.) https://www.flickr.com/photos/24892406@N02/sets/72157652740946453 Now, it’s to bed before an early bus day tmw traveling to Vienna.