Astronomical Clock, Havel Market, Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge

31. March 2006 Prague, Czech Republic 3

The sun was out our last day in Prague. We took the tram to Old Town and walked a bit to get to the square. The tourists were already gathered in front of the astronomical clock, so we joined them and sat at one of the outdoor chairs of U Orloje for morning coffee. We just missed the 11:00 strike so we decided to walk around the neighborhood and catch the clock “show” later. We found Odkolek Bakery on Rytirska street where we bought a couple of turnover pastries to eat. The Havel market was already set up. We walked around and checked out the souvenirs and fresh produce for sale. I bought the mandatory magnet for Anna and the Pilsner Urquell bottle opener for myself.

We hurried back to the square just in time for the clock to strike the hour. The skeleton to the right tipped the hourglass and pulled a rope. The windows above the clock then opened and the twelve apostles did their procession thing. The other figures, Greed, Vanity and a Turk, all moved after the cock crowed.

The astronomical clock imitates the orbit of the sun and the moon about the Earth as well as show the visible parts of the sky in the summer and winter months. All that information and we still had to look at the more normal-looking clock at the top of the tower to tell time! We were glad to have seen it. We felt like it was one of those things that made a Prague visit complete.

We deserved a beer after standing under the sun to watch the clock. Cameron wanted to go to U Dvou Koĉek, which means Two Cats, to eat in honor of the two cats she left at home. We ate brewery cheese with paprika, black pepper sausage, ghoulash with bacon dumplings and a roasted pig’s neck. Henners and Sam would have been proud. We washed all the food down with Pilsner Urquell.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Jewish Quarter. The neighborhood went through an Art Nouveau revival and the buildings all looked new and beautiful. We walked by several synagogues before we paid to enter the Old Jewish Cemetery. Because it was the only area permitted to Jews back in the day, people had to be buried on top of each other, up to twelve layers deep. There are apparently twelve thousand gravestones crammed in there but over one hundred thousand are actually buried! It was definitely more crowded than a New York City subway.

Back in Old Town, it was Cameron time. We bought tickets to see Mozart’s Don Giovanni performed by marionettes. I wouldn’t have thought about watching a bunch of wooden toys move while singing arias, but the marionette shows have a long tradition throughout Czech Republic. I’ll have nightmares about moving toys now, but it was fun to watch and I would so recommend it if you’re visiting.

Before the sun set, we walked around Old Town Square some more to buy stuff to bring back to the States. We found La Vinotheque where we bought several bottles of Czech reds. We stopped by the Franz Kafka bookstore to add to my Catcher in the Rye translations collection.

When we finally made it to Charles Bridge, the sky was beautifully painted with orange and purple and the Vltava River was calm. We couldn’t help but take photos even though it was the most clichéd setting ever.

Of course, that deserved a beer. We tried the Budvar at a pub off the Little Quarter, the real Budweiser before Anheuser-Busch stole the name. (The two companies have been duking it out in court for hundreds of years.) For our last dinner in Prague, we splurged at U Tří Pštrosů, or At The Three Ostriches, where we shared the game consommé, the foie gras, the coquille and the veal terrine with the ostrich steaks.

Our last couple of hours in Prague were spent inhaling everything. We had to be at the airport at 5:30am the next day to catch our flight to Heathrow before heading back to New York City. We took in all the lights, the bricks, the buildings and the streets and said Děkuji, Praha!

Related post/s:
Prague photos on Flickr
Day 2: Prague Castle, Lvi Dvur, Petrin Hill, Wenceslas Square
Day 1: Three Kinds of Beer, First Few Hours in Prague

3 thoughts on “Astronomical Clock, Havel Market, Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge”

  • 1
    mike on April 1, 2006

    i’ve been reading your page for about 3 yrs now and i’m always shocked when we’ve visited the same places only weeks/months apart. it started when you went to amsterdam. just missed you. i just moved back from living in france for a year and was in paris often. and then late last year i was in prague. your pictures could be some of mine! had to mention it.

  • 2
    cia on April 1, 2006

    The idea that we could have been walking side by side in some other country and never knowing about it is kinda cool!

  • 3
    C on April 1, 2006

    It looks really beautiful there. I’m jealous because damnit I want to go to Prague! :)

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