Monday, August 11, 2014

Second Night in Prague

After climbing the long stairs to Prague Castle, we enjoyed dinner and drinks down at river level until night fell. In the evenings, Prague Castle empties out, but doesn't fully close. We made our way back up the steps to see what we could see.

Prague Castle Steps at Night
Prague Castle Steps at Night

At the top of the steps, we were once again in possession of the beautiful views of Prague below. Old Town in the near distance, the Little Quarter just at the bottom of the hill, and the suburbs where people probably actually live and work farther on.

Tyn Church from Prague Castle
Tyn Church from Prague Castle

Within the castle compound, the museums and interpretive activities are closed, but everything outdoors is still open, including the curious Golden Lane. This little back alley lined with homes and shop fronts used to be the home of gilders, jewelers, and other high-class crafters and merchants. The author Franz Kafka lived here.

During the day, there is a fee (!?) to get access to this street, which is now apparently packed with touristy shops. When we had been by earlier, it was jammed with people, all of whom had paid admission. After the sun goes down, they open the turnstiles and send the guards home. Curious, but we took advantage and had the glowing lane all to ourselves.

The Golden Lane in Prague
The Golden Lane

At the top of the lane, we found a display of cannons and siege weapons. I couldn't help but get a photo of this (working?) ballista. I remember learning about ballistae when I was playing the real time tactical strategy war game Warcraft II in 1999. Ah, video games...

Ballista in Prague

There was a teaser shot of the beautifully-lit St. Vitus Cathedral in the last Prague post. This flat-fronted, round-backed church was artfully lit on all sides. I love the way knockout European buildings like this are lit at night. The lighting designers have a way of hiding lights in strategic places to make every facet, corner, and point of these buildings pop.

St. Vitus Cathedral Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral

After the long, hard stroll at the top of the castle, it was time for more Czech beer. As mentioned before, each pub or restaurant serves one brand of beer, and each brand makes light, regular, and dark beers. We hadn't yet tried a Budweiser (not to be confused with the Anheuser-Busch brew in America), and made it our business to find it. One restaurant near Charles Bridge was still open and serving tourists. We happily paid tourist prices for a glass of Czech Budweiser each.

The name can be confusing. Czech Budweiser is brewed in a Czech city, Budejovicky, whose name in English is spelled Budweis. BudweisER means from Budweis. A legal battle between this local Czech beer and international juggernaut Anheuser-Busch led to the compromise that this beer can be sold as Budweiser in certain countries, and as Budejovicky-Budvar or Czechvar in others. In any country, it's great.

Budweiser in Prague
One Last Drink

Another Czech staple we hadn't yet tried was something Sara remembered from her trip to Prague years ago, Slivovice. This clear tonic is a brandy made from plum wine. We went back to the basement bar near our hostel and ordered a round of slivo. It was served in these small shot glasses, but sipped slowly. The plum taste was interesting and unlike anything we'd tried before.

Slivovice Plum Brandy in Prague
Slivovice- Plum Brandy

Still later, we weren't tired and wanted to see some of our favorite Prague sights without the midday crowds. Luckily, Prague is compact and easy to navigate if you've been through the streets before. We kept a sharp eye out for trouble, but only saw the late night dance club crowd in the streets. 

Tyn Church at Night in Prague
Tyn Church at Night

Near Old Town Square, we found a little bakery that was still open and selling snacks to drunk partiers. We weren't really either, but got a snack anyway. A sweet pastry for Sara, and a bread-wrapped spicy sausage for Cory. If it was mealtime in Prague, I was going for sausage!

Czech Pastry and Wrapped Sausage in Prague
Czech Pastry and Wrapped Sausage

Before we turned in for the night, we got some night photos of the Castle Quarter from the other side of the river. Our evening walk had started up on top of that hill and had ended here at the base of Charles Bridge. 

The bridge itself is beautifully lit at night to discourage crime and to show off the near miracle of middle age engineering that it is.

Prague Castle from the River at Night
Prague Castle from the River at Night

Charles Bridge's Illuminated Arches in Prague
Charles Bridge's Illuminated Arches

Finally at the end of the bridge, with our hostel just around the corner, we took one last photo of the end of the bridge, the tower, and the castle glowing on top of the hill. The next day would be our last in Prague, but it wouldn't be wasted...

Charles Bridge and Prague Castle at night
Charles Bridge and Prague Castle (Distant Right)

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