Praha. Day 3

It was a beautiful (even though grey) morning here in Prague. Once we had been through that stage when we had to get used to being on holiday, we were ready to own the city and enjoy the time we had left to be here. Another delicious breakfast with just the same view we had the day before started us off for the day ahead. The only exception being that we got to witness a group of fellow Russians elbowing their way to get hold of the food. Those kids didn’t look as if they were starving but I guess it’s just a Russian way and I’m not sure if those were the years of starvation and hardship that had those kids and many others behaving the way they did or if those were just bad manners that gained Russian tourists quite a reputation all around the world which we still feel thankful and privileged to be able to travel. Anyway, I was here in Prague and I was loving that morning that had me sitting in the hotel cafe sipping on my coffee while I was watching the commotion at the bakery across the road. After we were done with the breakfast, we set out on the same walk along Dlouha Street which was starting feeling even more accommodating now with lots and lots of little shops which we knew there would be no time to visit.Each of the buildings with distinctive imposing details will leave their stories untold. We were again in the heart of the city and it felt so good to have a good look around the area which felt a bit different after the tour of the day before. We walked around the Týn Church and found it closed. The narrow streets surrounding it seemed full of mystery.

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Even though Prague wouldn’t probably be the top pick for an art lover, it has some really nice and quirky (Prague style) museums that are worth checking out. There are a few around the Old Town area such as the Choc-Story Museum  which we decided to see as the entrance looked really tempting and appetizing. We found it to be more of a shop offering lush chocolate products that would make a fabulous gift. There is something so sensuous and feminine about chocolate. We hung around here for a little more and decided to see some museums lining up the street. There was also the Museum of Communism which for us was more than a fact to amuse us so we skipped that one.

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There was another museum which we hadn’t been planning on visiting but as we were here surrounded by the magic of the City of the Thousand Spires, I thought I would take this chance to visit the Grevin Museum (Wax Figure Museum) as I wasn’t sure I would ever get an opportunity to visit the Madame Tussauds Museum in London. It was 10 am and the museum was just opening and we were the first visitors. The museum looked really modern outside with large pristine corridors. There were three floors and we were free to start with whichever one we wanted. The first floor featured political figures and distinguished writers and poets. This whole experience felt as if we were actually approaching these celebrities as every inch of their skin looked astoundingly real and I found it hard to believe those were mere inanimate objects and they wouldn’t talk or greet me back.  Those were such immaculate and painstaking pieces of work. It must have taken a genius to recreate human flesh using materials, expertise and imagination. The walls reflected some prominent events in the Czech history including defenestration when people opposing a current political regime were thrown out of the window with a thumping noise we could hear dully humming into our ears. A wonderful thing was that we had the whole floor to ourselves. There were some figures of  Czech writers and you could join them for a few beers in a setting which felt a lot like our first dinner on our first afternoon here. That was the spirit of Prague! Walking through a dimly lit room, we kept coming across more prominent Czechs and you could actually see some of them at work – writing, painting… Alphonse Mucha, Franz Kafka (whom I found very handsome), young Mozart who performed his famous Prague symphony in the enchanting Estates Theatre (Národní divadlo) who looked really vulnerable sitting here playing his piano (we could actually hear the music he was playing)… We saw some Czech kings and queens and that was a very interesting history lesson. Of course there was the mysterious Galem which brought me back to the day before when we were on a tour of the Jewish Quarter. His eyes were flashing with fire and that ws a scary sight. There was also the famous cartoon character Krtek and you could join him for an imaginary ride! On another floor there were sports stars and you could see them doing what they did best her and I certainly recognized Petr Čech, a German goalkeeper. We followed the glittering lights into the show business section which looked really chic and glamorous with an impressive lineup of Hollywood A-listers as well as international and Czech music legends. For a moment I was thinking I might not be dressed appropriately for the occasion as I looked around me to see another celebrity giving me a courteous smile or staring pensively. I admit it took me a while to get comfortable having all these “humans” with me looking larger than life. There would have probably been no other way I would ever see these individuals anyway. John Lennon (whom we would remember later that day), Gérard Depardieu, Marilyn Monroe, Celine Dion, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt… I knew realistically I would never get an invite if all of these ever decided to have a party together. As Prague is popular due to opera houses, there was a big stage where you could feel like a spectator watching and hearing opera singers perform. There was also a makeover section where you could get a virtual figure of yourself but it was a bit tricky to work out. We had been in there for about two hours and at that point I was certainly confused as to where I was. No, I did know where I was because Prague is surely a place to make you feel a part of some bigger magic plot. I felt like a kid inside me was rejoicing!

 

That would be the only museum we got to visit on this trip but it was a really extraordinary experience and totally worth its price! We wrote our reviews in the guestbook and left with a friendly Asian-looking guy saying his goodbyes to us and he was the first person we met here who seemed genuinely happy to hear where we came from. We were back surrounded by the magic of Old Town which seized us back (it might have never let go at all). We walked to the area we had been exploring on our tour the day before and I still think nothing can beat walking anywhere on your own. The House of the Black Madonna, the Powder Gate, Municipal House… We walked a bit further down the street till we reached Wenceslav Square lined up with urbanisatic shops. I thought I needed a new pair of shoes badly and I got some new ones which werewolf more comfortable for walking and experiencing Prague, they sedentary enough for winter but I loved that I didn’t feel chilly wearing them and I was so happy that I didn’t even need winter shoes in late January! A bit milder climate in Russia would have saved us so much money we have to spend on clothing to fit unpredictable weather patterns. A new pair of shoes owned by a smiling person – if you happened to be walking the streets of central Prague that day, you might have seen me and I might have smiled back at you. Another injection of a happy feeling Igotwhen I saw some British newspapers on sale and i certainly couldnt resist getting a few to nurture my love and admiration for my sweet dream which is journalism. We headed back to our hotel where I left my old shoes (but not the temperature had given me). The Old Town Square was bustling at 1pm. We were so happy we lived just round the corner. After a quick stop at the hotel, we decided to go out for a bit of pub crawl and we thought the place might get too packed at night. It was just next door, the Prague Beer Museum. It look really cool but not as rundown as the pub we visited on our first day. We were really spoilt for floodwaters were more than 30 kinds of need to choose from! We decided to go for a meter of beer which was similar to the one we had in Sony Centre in Berlin where you have small samples of different kinds of beer. I asked my sister she would promise me we wouldn’t spend the whole afternoon in there as we had Prague right there waiting for us to savour it! I’m a very weird person when it comes to beer as I love mine with different sorts of flavours like chocolate, fruit… There was something on the menu to please my palette as well and I had a while five samples of what a lot of people would call quirky! I tried a bit of all of these and tucked into my meat – that was gorgeous! My sister looked like a kid in a candy shop and a very pleased one! These are these small light-hearted experiences that we actually love travelling for! Just having a me and enjoying a few beers – people who would say I might have well got the same back at home shouldn’t waste their breath saying that! We were thinking of the itinerary we would go next as we left this place feeling high on Prague! We might have looked a bit ridiculous with our map of the city spread over the table looking for the Dancing House on it. Yes, we were gallbladder the kind of problems we had to deal with for the moment!

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We walked all the way back to the Charles Bridge and the area leading to it even though we had walked it a few times during our time in Prague would keep throwing in new surprises to amaze us – street signs with one of them featuring a carp holding something in his hands, cute couples looking really loved up, handsome males, advertisements in both Czech and English. I loved having so much more real English in my life in this post-communist country! We admired the views of the Prague Castle in the broad daylight and I felt so happy to be alive (and I hadn’t forgotten that beer I had just consumed!). Walking the bridge this time felt a little different this time and it always did! It was quite busy in the late afternoon. I could see the city and its grey hills spreading before me and the exquisite figures on the bridge looking into the sky. How many people had looked at them before – it’s incredible! The postcard view of Prague was my reality and I could choose different angles to photograph and take it in. Kampa Island which was just a short way off on the side of the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) offered picturesque views of the Vltava River. That was a busy life going on under the Charles Bridge. “Imagine all the people”, I was humming to myself as we approached a bit of England here in Prague. The Lennon Wall was infused with inscriptions documenting current events and people’s reactions provoked by them. Even though the star himself never graced the city with a visit,  this wall was there to give people a chance to speak out which for me means being a human. Of course we couldn’t help leaving our tiny imprints here as well and another reason for me to go back to Prague would be to see if they were still there, which seems rather unlikely anyway.

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After that as we walked a bit down, our current mission was to find “Babies” by  David Černý whose sculpture featuring a heavily pregnant woman we had previously seen in Dlouha Street. I knew there was a more profound message behind these sculptures these huge-looking giant babies with disfigured faces would look funny to pose with!

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Museum of Kampa provided a collection of very quirly images of objects, animals and that was what felt like typical Prague. We walked along the Vltava bank where we made acquaintance with lovely Prague residents – swans. They were desperate for food and had a lot of visitors grant them this wish. I just couldn’t believe they were here now in winter. They were little gorgeous performers hiding their heads in the water and then revealing them to a crowd of spectators. There was a couple of swans never leaving each other’s side there of course too and that was a touch of romance. It was a grey dreary afternoon but simply walking here surrounded by these barren trees and unknown grand buildings was marvellous and authentic. We felt a more intimate connection with the city now as if we were all alone gazing at its dreary waters.

 

We made it to the famous Dancing House which according to the popular belief stands apart from the typical architectural styles of the city. It is compared to a dancing couple, which was another romantic touch.

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Just around the corner there was a place where we were supposed to meet other Prague residents – cats. They were living here in a cat café called Social Point owned by a Russian. We were met by a receptionist who turned out to be Russian as well. There were three cats here at the time – Hugo, Beatrice and Kenzo. They didn’t seem too friendly and willing to interact though. I wanted to interview the owner for a report I was supposed to write for a cat magazine. He didn’t seem too friendly either and familiar Russian grumpiness in him started showing just as we got to meet him. We went to the lounge where there were a few other visitors and among them there was a mother and son who spoke Czech and it was fascinating just to hear them talk (that got me more focused on the language rather than the cats!). One of them was fascinated by my cake and just got onto the table and snatched it leaving a trail of crumbles on the floor… He wasn’t being a gentleman at all despite him wearing a bow-tie. My sister was pleased to be here with the cats and that made me happy. The place looked clean but I just didn’t feel like staying here for much longer so we left. Of course the whole idea of starting a café where people would hang out instead of spending their time consumed by their gadgets was nice but I just didn’t seem to enjoy this particular café.

It was already dark as we started walking back to the Old Town. There were legendary red trams coming and going and there were obviously carrying people on their way back home from work. It felt like an ordinary city for a moment but it stopped being so just as we saw the night image of the Prague Castle in the distance. It was just wow! We decided to take a look through a sort of a looking glass which was installed in the street but we couldn’t see anything so we thought it was just a magic rip-off. It was beautiful just as it was and little money we had lost wasn’t a big deal after all. My sister insisted we kept on walking but I wanted to take it in and make that a moment to treasure. It was getting chilly and my dream was coming true as it started feeling just a tiny bit like winter now! Yes! We reached the Charles Bridge and that time round took what felt like a routine walk through it. People seemed to be leaving just to head somewhere to chill for the night. After a bit of people watching we found ourselves in the Old Town where we did what we wished was our routine as well – watched the apostles of the Astronomical Clock and had some hot wine overlooking the Týn Church (it wasn’t as good at this counter though). It felt even more like winter now. It felt so amazing where fairy tales come alive and it doesn’t matter you had to wait for that way beyond the age appropriate for reading and believing in them. We watched some street performances to end the night and headed back to our hotel stocked up on food and beer. It was another great night and next was our last full day in the City of the Thousand Spires.

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Author: Olga

An English teacher and translator, a keen traveller

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