STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blog from Prague.. Day 2 ..Still hot!

Looking up Wenceslas Square
Hello again from beautiful Praha. That first post last night was painful... Although Blogger is the same and I had no trouble writing the post, the Internet connection is very slow and it took a long while to add photos (SO slow uploading) Then it took over 20 minutes to actually publish the post - it should only take a second with just the hit of a button. So I'm thinking I'm going to have to keep things short with just a few pics, in order to preserve my sanity. And much as I would like to, I probably won't be replying to your comments, for lack of time. Please forgive.. and please keep commenting! I love to read your comments (as always!!)
In Old Town Square

We are just back in our hotel room (5pm) for a break from the heat and for our feet to recoup a bit... I have a nasty bug bite on my left foot from 3 or 4 days ago and it's swollen and more red than it was when I left home. All the walking in the heat is not helping so I've just taken a Benadryl to see if that will help.  Feet elevated for an hour or two might help too, I'm hoping...
A decent sleep last night made a world of difference and we are both feeling more energetic today. After a late start (we really needed
In Old Town Square looking towards Church of Our Lady before Tyn 
the sleep) we figured out the Tram and caught one over to Wenceslas Square. For about $1.50 it is SO worth the ride to "save" our feet! The main area of Prague is divided into quarters...there are five quarters - do the Math on that one!! haha. On "our" side of the river is the Castle Quarter and the Little Quarter known as Mala Strana - this is where our hotel is. On  the other side of the river is the Old Town Quarter, the New Town Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. After wandering a bit we decided to take a Walking Tour which covered these three areas - Old and New Towns and Jewish Quarter. Of course 2.5 hours is just enough to
The Astronomical Clock
barely scratch the surface- there is SO much history, but this gave us a great taste of what to go back to for further exploration on our own as well as giving us our bearings in this area. Central Prague is all very walkable, although it is tiring... my poor feet are suffering, but hey, I will not complain... Our guide, Tom, was a very pleasant young guy from Wales. He has been here in Praha 3 years and has certainly done a wonderful job of learning the history of the country. He was so knowledgeable and answered all our questions without hesitation. We started at the Old Town Hall (also  the sight of a wedding an hour today.. we saw 5 brides in the span of several hours!!) to view the famous Astrological Clock. This clock is the number one thing to see in Prague although Tom said many feel its hourly "performance" is overrated. Considering the clock was built in 1490, I think it is absolutely amazing with its revolving discs, sweeping hands and celestial symbols!! Built by master clockmaker Jan Ruze, it not only tells time but much more. (At the time, the city councillors were thrilled with their new clock and so they blinded Ruze and cut out his tongue so he could not recreate the clock for anyone else (nice guys!!) Quoted from Guidebook: "The clockmaker's view of the universe had the earth fixed firmly at the centre. The purpose of the clock was not to tell you the exact time but to imitate the supposed orbits of the sun and moon about the earth. The hand with the sun, which points to the hour, in fact records three different kinds of time. The outer ring of medieval Arabic numerals measures old Bohemian time - gold gothic numbers on black background counts from sunset. The ring of Roman numerals (on blue background) indicates time as we know it. The clock also shows the movement of the sun and moon through the 12 signs of the zodiac (which were of great importance in 15th century Prague.)

Four statues flanking the clock represent the 15th century outlook on time and prejudices. A Turk with a mandolin symbolizes Hedonism, a Jewish moneylender is greed, and the figure staring into a mirror stands for vanity. All these worldly goals are in vain in the face of Death, whose hourglass reminds us that our time is unavoidably running out. At the top of each hour from 9a.m. til 9p.m. daily, the clock comes to life. First Death tips his hourglass and pulls the cord, ringing the bell; the
two windows at the top open and the 12 apostles parade by, each nodding their head at the onlookers. The rooster crows and then the hour is rung.   To indicate the times of sunrise and sunset, arcing lines and moving spheres combine with the big hand (golden sun) and the little hand (the silver "moon" that spins to indicate its phase.)"
All quite amazing, considering this is from the late 1400's!!!  Tom told us the lower circle simply displays the signs of the zodiac (with the Old Town Prague crest in the centre) but I was interested in the writing around the circle. He said these are the days of the year with the corresponding names of the saints. Couples having children in the Czech Republic can only name their children using these names (or request special permission for use of another name).
Estates Theater

This is only one story from all we learned today.. so you see I cannot possibly "tell all" from Prague - much will have to wait til I get home where things will go much faster.
But just a few more highlights to mention- we saw 7 newly married couples today- from the first pair emerging through a cloud of thrown rose petals at Old Town Hall to the last couple strolling hand in hand across Charles Bridge tonight- she was  carrying her silver shoes and wearing flipflops, still in her white dress, he in a Tux and between them in their clasped hands- a plastic bag full of beer!!!
We saw the Estates Theater where Mozart premiered and personally conducted the first performance of  Don Giovanni; the classical Rudolfinum, a beautiful concert hall where  the Czech Philharmonic performs; The Powder Tower - an original tower gate of the town wall built to house the city's gunpowder, it also marks the beginning of the Royal Mile down which each new King walked to greet his people on the way to his coronation; and I cannot leave out the Lennon
Wall- a memorial to John Lennon where his fans still leave graffiti messages of peace and hope. And yes, my daughter signed the wall too.

We are both falling in love with Prague. After only 1.5 days, we know our way around and feel comfortable. It is indeed a beautiful city. Most striking to me is the incredibly diverse  architectural styles -  Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Nouveau - it's all here. Everywhere you look. Amazing. I no longer have ANY worries about filling my time...


Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.


Wendy said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip! Glad you are having fun. xo to you both. I empathize with the heat thing...we had 96 degrees in NY and are sooooo glad to be back home! ttyl...wendy

Pamela Gordon said...

Beautiful post Linda! Such wonderful history and I know you barely touched it. What an amazing clock that is and how awful to do that to the designer! He was a genius wasn't he? Now on to your next post.

Karen said...

I am in the middle of planning our wedding in Prague - we are from Canada - and I was searching for images of the Powder Tower that you mention in your blog - and up comes the picture from the John Lennon Wall of the painting that we put up on the wall when we got engaged!! The painting is of John Lennon (as you obviously know) - but also of my fiancee's brother and father - both of whom were huge Lennon fans before they passed away 8 years ago. I think the fact that that image came up when I was searching for pictures of the Powder Tower (two places that are not really linked and are rather far apart) - is a bit of a sign! :) I think we have found our wedding venue - so thank you! It is too bad that you came across the painting after someone had already turned Roger's eyes red :( I don't know if this link will work, but it's a video from when we put the painting up -

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