|We had planned to go to the Prague Castle Quarter this morning until we saw the weather forecast--10-20 mph winds plus about a 10 degree drop in temperature. So we came up with Plan B and took the tram to Wencelas Square. It still seems strange getting on without a ticket. We were there on Saturday, the national holiday, and it was a zoo. Today was much better. This is more of a long boulevard rather than a square with the National Museum and the statue of King Wencelas (of Christmas Carol fame), the benevolent 10th-century duke of Bohemia, at the top end. There is a great view of the long boulevard from the steps of the National Museum.
This is a site of modern Czech history. The creation of the Czechoslovak state was celebrated here in 1918, in 1968 the Soviets put down huge popular demonstrations, and on Nov 26, 1989 more than 300,000 Czechs and Slovaks converged here to claim their freedom when Vaclav Havel, who later became President, announced the resignation of the Politburo. You can still see the patched Soviet bullet holes from 1968 in the columns of the National Museum because the Czech workers intentionally mismatched their patches so this would not be forgotten.
As we strolled down the center of the boulevard there were memorials and lots of "different" statues. We checked out several interesting sights and buildings mentioned in Rick Steve's book including a lovely garden hidden behind all the tall buildings. The most interesting part for us was the tops of all these tall buildings. Some really interesting designs and sculptures.
A few blocks over was the Municipal House which is supposed to be the "pearl of Czech Art Nouveau". When we got there Judi C. recognized it as the place she and Vicki had attended a concert and dinner when they were in Prague over New Year's several years ago. The outside of the building was beautiful but we didn't get to see much of the inside as it was roped off with a gentleman standing at the top of the steps.
By now we are tired of the wind. It wasn't that cold and the wind wasn't blowing all the time but a good part of the time it was really strong. You could see the clouds moving swiftly across the sky. It kept going back and forth from bright sunshine to gray clouds. We found a cute, what we thought was a little, cafe on a side street. Once inside we realized it was a big restaurant with lots of tables. I had pork medallions with broiled mozzarella and tomatoes and Judi C. had a spaetzle with eggplant, tomatoes, green onions and goat cheese.
There were still a few more things we wanted to see in this part of town and after a few false starts we found the Bethlehem Chapel where around 1400 Jan Hus preached for the congregation to be more involved in worship--actually drinking the wine at communion and services and scriptures in the people's language rather than Latin. These ideas spread and when Hus was burned at the stake it sparked the bloodiest civil war in Czech history. Reduta, Prague's best jazz club, has a picture of Bill Clinton playing the saxaphone (he performed there in 1994). And the memorial to the hundreds of students injured by the police in a student demonstration on Nov 17, 1989 that eventually led to the Velvet Revolution that toppled the communist regime in that country (see above).
We ended our day with dinner at Cantina, the mexican restaurant we couldn't get into last Friday. This time we made a reservation. I was pleasantly surprised. We've eaten at "mexican" restaurants in several different countries on our travels and they were usually some interpretation of mexican food. This was just like Mexican food we get at home--fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, burritos, salsa, and margaritas. We split a chicken fajita plate with beans, rice, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream. It was delicious.
On the way home we went back to Petrin Hill to get a photograph the Monument to Victims of Communism Who Survived. It's an intriging sculpture and we weren't able to get pictures when we were there the other day because there were too many people. Tonight it was lit up and there was no one else there so we got some good pictures. Then it was back to the apartment to work on our blog and have one of our gingerbread rum balls. JB