Eastern Europe Part 2 travel blog

Mucha Poster of Sarah Bernhardt

View from Old Town Hall Tower

Crowd watching the Astronomical Clock Strike 1

Chapel of the Virgin Mary

Lots of Police

Today is our last day and the forecast is for rain all day. We've been pretty lucky with the weather this whole trip. A few gray mornings that quickly turned to sunshine and a couple rain showers at the end of the day. So we planned indoor activites for today. We started our day by revisiting the Church of St. Mary the Victorious. We stopped there yesterday but we didn't realize it contained Prague's most precious jewel, the Infant of Prague. A famous statue that is a focus of worship and miracle tales in Prague and spanish-speaking countries. South Americans make pilgrimages to this statue. Even though not on the posted schedule, there was a service going on when we go there so we decided to stop again on our way home.

Back on the tram to Old Town Square to see another church we had missed on our original visit there, St. Nicholas (another one). This one was closed due to a wedding. Maybe later. We did get into the Kinsky Palace to see the French Impressionist collection of Wilhelm Hansen organized by the National Gallery Prague in partnership with the Ordrupgaard National Art Musem in Denmark. It was a lovely, extensive collection that included Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Morisot, Delacroix, Sisley, Cezanne, and Gauguin among others I was not familiar with.

A few doors down was the Central Gallery with exhibits by Mucha, Dali, and Warhol. We opted for the Mucha exhibit as we had seen his work in Cesky Krumlov and really liked his art. He was a founding father of the Art Nouveau movement and was primarily what I would call an illustrator. He did a lot of posters, calendars and magazine covers in early 1900's and if you saw some of his work you would probably recognize it.

I should mention it is now after noon there has been no rain. As we continue around the Old Town Square we took a self-guided tour of the Old Town Hall which included an elevator to the top of the tower where there was a 360 degree view of the city. Really stunning. It also included the first floor (2nd floor to us) which houses the Chapel of the Virgin Mary (consecrated in 1381) where services were held every day before council meetings, the Old Council Hall for council meeting starting in the 15th century and now used for official occasions by the mayor, and the inner workings of the 12 Apostles in the Astronomical Clock each carrying his attribute. Between the tower and the first floor we popped out to the plaza to watch the crowd watch the clock strike 1. After we finished the tour we noticed there many police vehicles and policemen on two sides of the square. No idea what was going on but they seemed pretty relaxed and no one else in the crowds seemed concerned.

We went back to St. Nicholas and it was stilled closed. The man at the door said maybe 3:00. So we found a restaurant that looked good for lunch and went in. We were asked if we had reservations (it was nothing fancy) and the waitress started to turn us away. Then after some discussion with her co-workers she said "follow me" and seated us. We must have looked really hungry and tired. After we ordered she told us cash only. When we asked for the menu back to see how much we had ordered and if we had enough cash, she told us "wait a minute--I'll ask my manager". Lo and behold the manager said O.K. we could use a credit card and lunch was on. A very good lunch it was--grilled turkey with tzatziki and roasted potatoes for Judi C. and smoked meat (ham it turns out) with cooked red cabbage and potato pancakes for me with wine, of course.

It's now close to 3 and the forecased rain has finally started. We walked back to St. Nicholas--still closed--and then took the tram to Church of St. Mary Victorius. The service is still going on so it looks like we aren't going to see the Infant of Prague. So back on the tram and to our apartment. While in Budapest and Vienna there were bakeries everywhere, we have not seen one since in Cesky Krumlov or here. On the tram earlier in the day Judi C thought she saw one so we checked it out after we got off the tram. Lo and behold there was the Artic Bake, filled with luscious pastries and breads. And, hallelujah they weren't closed. So, of course we had to buy something even though we are leaving at 6:30 a.m. in the morning. Then one more stop at Angelato for some really tasty gelato. It is our last day of vacation.

After getting off our feet for awhile, cleaning out the refrigerator for happy hour and working on the blog, we headed out for a light dinner in our neighborhood. We found a lovely place around the corner and had garlic soup for Judi C and potato soup (a beef broth with potatoes, diced vegetables, and meat--not like potato soup at home) with bread and wine. Now it is time to go back to our apartment and pack. Our driver is picking us up at 6:30 a.m. for the airport. JB

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