Tag Archives: history

Prague

So, the tent is now drying in stages on the airer in the spare room, we’re slowly emptying the car of everything we’ve accumulated over the past 5+ weeks and I’m watching far too many bread baking videos on Youtube, which is probably the surest sign that I’m ready to go home.

We visited Cesky Krumlow on Monday. Described by our Lonely Planet Guide as Czech’s only other world class sight and ‘must-see’ outside Prague, 180kms south and close to the Austrian border. I’m not sure about that, I’m really enjoying travelling here, but Cesky Krumlow was well worth visiting. Beautiful old town with a huge Renaissance Castle overlooking it. As we looked over the old town from the castle, it felt as though the view had probably not changed in centuries, there were no modern buildings and only a few advertising signs on old buildings to suggest that we were actually in the 21st Century. Located on the Vltava River, which also runs through Prague and flows out into the North Sea. We camped beside the river on Monday night at Camp Paradijs, our last night of camping on this trip. The river’s gentle sounds just a few metres from our campsite were a nice ending to the 14 nights we’ve spent in our much-loved tent on this trip.

On our way into Prague, we stopped at the Sedlac Ossuary to look at the ‘Bone Church’. I’m not even sure how to describe it – strange, weird, creative, ghoulish. The small church in Sedlac monastery has been decorated almost exclusively with bones – 4 huge piles of them, plus garlands, crosses and other shapes, all made out of human bones. Interesting but weird.

We’re spending 4 nights in an Airbnb apartment right on the edge of the old town, above Prague Castle. Parking is only a minor problem here – we can’t park right outside the apartment because it’s for residents only, or we have to SMS something to somewhere, or some other thing that is a bit out of our range of expertise; however it’s possible to park about 5 – 10 minutes walk from here, on the other side of the freeway. Just a short walk over a pedestrian bridge and on a few quiet streets. Greg has done this walk numerous times, I’ve done it once!

Yesterday we walked down to, and across, the Charles Bridge. I’m sure there were more tourists there and around the Old Square than we’ve seen anywhere this trip! Even Dubrovnik wasn’t as crowded. Gorgeous place, though – the bridges, the buildings, the squares. We just happened to be at the Astronomical Clock as it was about to strike on the hour – well, the huge crowd of people gathered expectantly nearby gave us a clue that something was about to happen, so we waited to see.¬† And we’ve extended our Trdelnik Chimney Cake experience by adding an Apple strudel ice cream cone one and a pizza one to the range we’ve eaten!

We caught up with our Czech friend Peter last night. We met him when he was cycling in Tassie a couple of years ago, then he came and stayed in ADL with us for a few days and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He encouraged us to come to Prague on this trip and I’m really glad that we did. So anyway after tossing around a few ideas of when and where to meet, we decided to have dinner here at the apartment, which was an excellent plan until I realised about 45 minutes after putting the chicken and potatoes in the oven that the oven wasn’t working due to operator error! There is a beautiful terracotta Schlemmer Topf roasting dish here and I was keen to use it, but messed up the oven settings, so dinner was a bit later than we had intended. It tasted good, though and I’m going to keep an eye out for a terracotta dish at the op shops I haunt in my never-ending search for Women’s Weekly cookbooks. Then we had Medovnik Honey Cake for dessert. I’m definitely going to have a go at making one of those when we get home – layers of honey cake with buttercream icing in between, and caramel & walnuts on top. It was good, but very filling.

Peter has given us great tips on where to go and what to see, and we’re getting together again tonight to eat Czech food in a restaurant. Good times!

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Cesky Krumlow Castle
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Cesky Krumlow
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Cesky Krumlow
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Cesky Krumlow
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Chimmey Cake (Trdelnik) at Cesky Krumlow
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at Cesky Krumlow there were lots of Chinese tourists. They are obsessed with taking selfies. Here are 3 in a row getting ready to take selfies.
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Cesky Krumlow
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Camped by the river at Camp Paradijs
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Leaving the rock behind. The white rock had travelled with us from Italy to knock in tent pegs, we left it next to a campfire with other rocks to live out its life so far from home.
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Sedlac Ossuary sign near the entrance all in bone
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Sedlac Ossuary decorations of skulls
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Sedlac Ossuary ceiling decorations
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Sedlac Ossuary
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Sedlac Ossuary bone and skull pyramids (there are several)
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Sedlac Ossuary
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Sedlac Ossuary
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Apartment in Prague
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Entrance to the Charles Bridge
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Ice protection for the Charles Bridge
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Apple Strudel and Ice-cream Chimney Cake (Trdelnik)
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Trdelnik cooking
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Astronomical clock Old town square
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Old town square
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John Lennon wall. More about graffiti on who was there than John Lennon

 

A bit more about Budapest, Hungary

There is as much interesting stuff to see on the Buda side of the city as there is on Pest. Yesterday we caught the metro across to Deli Pu, the last stop on the red line. The Deli train station is also there, and it’s a short but steep wall up to Castle Hill. Getting on the metro was a bit tricky – most of the smaller stations don’t have ticket sellers any more, just a machine. The first 2 we tried would not accept coins, only card payments, and of the 4 machines at the 3rd station we tried, only 2 accepted coins. We made sure we bought enough tickets to do us for the rest of the day.

Castle Hill is (of course!) on a hill overlooking The Danube and Pest. Impressive city walls, lots of museums, a few churches and HEAPS of touristy stuff and tourists. It was good, but after seeing the old towns in Zadar, Trogir and Dubrovnik, where real people actually live their lives, Castle Hill seemed a bit … um …. 2-dimensional, like a theatre stage with nothing behind it. The really ‘off’ moment for me was finding the Jamie’s Italian restaurant. Um, what’s a chain restaurant that doesn’t even serve regional food doing THERE? (apologies to any Jamie fans among our readers). I know, I know, it’s for the tourists.

The Royal Palace complex is also within the city walls, with more museums, the National Gallery which is currently featuring a Modigliani exhibition, statues and more great views of the river and Pest. We walked down to the river and towards the Liberty Bridge to get the metro back across the river, stopping at a cafe for lunch – the daily special for me (mushroom soup and crumbed chicken livers with rice & peas), crepes with strawberry jam and a milkshake for Greg.

Then 2 line changes on the metro to get to City Park, which is east of the city and our apartment. Originally royal hunting grounds, the park is a huge green space which was the main location for the city’s millennial celebrations in 1896. The Budapest Zoo, Municipal Great Circus, museums, the city’s largest thermal baths, an amusement park, monuments, cafes, restaurants and the list goes on. Just at the entrance to the park is Heroes’ Square with an empty coffin representing the unknown insurgents of the 1956 Uprising, with the Archangel Gabriel on top of a 36-metre high pillar, holding the Hungarian crown and a cross, and the very¬† impressive Military Monument with 14 statues of rulers and statesmen.

We walked back to the apartment along Andrassy Utica, with its beautiful mansions and townhouses, past theatres and the Terror House which pays tribute to the victims of the Nazi and Soviet regimes. We didn’t go in, I’m still scarred by our visit to the Apartheid Museum in Jo’burg last year.

Here’s a song, suggested by Margaret

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The metro in Budapest
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Matthias Church Castle Hill
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Looking down over the Danube to Pest
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City Park
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Heros Square
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Terror Museum
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Victims of torture displayed outside the Terror Museum

 

A bit more about Venice

We parked the car at Tronchetto, the artificial island between the mainland and the historic centre. There are loads of options, both for parking and for just getting to Venice. The closer one wants to park, the more expensive it is. Parking on the mainland is cheaper, but it’s a long way from the island and some kind of public transport is necessary, either by road or water. We just walked from the parking island, and caught the People Mover shuttle from Piazzale Roma on the way back ‘cos our legs were a bit tired by then.

Okay, so I’m going to make a confession … I didn’t think I’d like Venice much. Crowds, tourists, tacky souvenirs aren’t really my ‘thing’, but oh my goodness, it’s so beautiful I didn’t really even notice the stuff I don’t like. So much history and gorgeous old buildings & bridges, and even though there were lots of people around, we just nipped down a less crowded lane every now and then and got away from it. The Rialto Bridge across the Main Canal is being renovated, but we were still able to see all the comings and goings in the Main Canal – gondolas, boats unloading goods onto hand-carts, ferries. It was a busy Friday afternoon.

And no, we didn’t have a gondola ride. We’re far too stingey to spend EU80 on a 30-minute trip, and as neither of us are good sailors, it wasn’t on our ‘must-do’ list. I was going to add a Youtube clip of singing gondoliers, or of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, but couldn’t really find anything I liked, so I’ll leave you to find your own.

We’re heading East towards Trieste today