Originally posted 24/07/13
First full day in Prague - Walked around the city in the morning, took a boat cruise down the Moldau for lunch, a 'Traditional Czech Evening' for dinner, then hit the clubs again.
So we went for a walking tour in the morning, with a Czech guide called Šárka. She took us up past the castle (Which looks more like a gothic church than a medieval fortress) and 'Katedral St Vita' (St Vitus Cathedral), then down across Karluv Most (Charles Bridge). It was really interesting, and once again full of beautiful architecture and views.
The Czech Kings had a coronation crown that is still held in Katedral St Vita. There's a legend surrounding the crown, that anyone who is not rightfully allowed to wear it will die within one year and one day. It's supported by the fact that Hitler's right hand man, Reinhard Heydrich, his appointed governer of Bohemia and Moravia, was assassinated within a year of putting it on. The assassination story is funny - some young men from the Czech resistance tried to kill him, failed to shoot him then ended up getting him with a grenade. The grenade didn't even kill him - he was injured, went to hospital, then poisoned by the Czech hospital staff. The crown jewels are now guarded by a door with seven locks, each key held by a different important Czech person. I guess that was the inspiration for the simpsons episode.
There is a statue on Karluv Most that is a bit of a tourist attraction. Supposedly, putting your hand on the hanging man in the right picture means you can make three wishes. You can see in the picture that there are a few bronze areas that have been worn away. The worn area over the queen (right side) is actually bad luck to touch, but is worn away because tourists are stupid and do it anyway. The dog on the left is gold because a group of Czech students thought it would be funny to sand it away and see if the silly tourists would make wishes on the dog. It worked.
The astronomical clock is pretty cool. It goes off every hour with a little procession of sculptures. The Czech government comissioned it, but they wanted it to be unique to Prague so they blinded the man who made it so that he couldn't do it again in any other city.
The Moldau(or 'The Vltava' in Czech) is the river that runs through Prague. We went on a boat tour for lunch along the river, and had some Czech food like Goulash and a few things I don't know the name of, or even what was in them.
There is a piece of classical music called 'Die Moldau', written by a Czech composer called Bedřich Smetana, that the lovely Ellen Stavrinos taught me about when she heard I was going to Prague (injecting a little culture into this country bumpkin). The piece was written to evoke the feeling of sailing down the river, from it's source to the other side of Prague. From wikipedia: "The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German)." It was really cool to match the music to the experience as we did the lunch cruise.
We went to a 'Traditional Czech evening' for dinner, it was pretty interesting, we had a four course meal while they sung some czech songs and did some dancing. Afterwards we hit up two more clubs in Prague, A Harley Davidson club that played some punk/grunge music, then a place called the Five Story Club (Karlovy lázně is its Czech name). It's (supposedly) the biggest club in Central Europe, and had a different style of music on each floor (Chillout, Hip Hop/RnB, Dance, Oldies, and Electronic, I think).