Monday, July 20, 2015

Eurotrip 2015 - Day 13 (7/9/2015) - Lesser Prague

I found it easy to continue sleeping this morning since there was no window for the sun to remind me that the day was getting on.  When I finally got up sometime around 9, I had to deal with the annoying pushbutton shower that I spoke about yesterday.  I made it to Old Town Square a little after 10:30, hoping to join up the Sandeman's free walking tour that I thought was starting at 10:45.  In the meantime, I grabbed a trdelník (a twisty-rolled sugar-covered pastry thing that tourists seem to like) to tide me over until a late lunch.  I found out from the tour guide that the tour wasn't actually to begin until 11:02 (after the astronomical clock ring), and decided after a quick think that I didn't want to go on the walking tour after all (for a couple of reasons that will become apparent).

I then walked across the Charles Bridge again (just as I had the evening before), but this time stopped at the New Bridge Tower to go up to the viewing platform (for a small fee).  I continued on to Prague Castle (Pražský hrad), arriving just as the first of the forecasted afternoon showers began; the temperature also dropped from the high 60s (F) to the low 60s, with a strong breeze that made it feel even cooler.  I took refuge in St. Vitus' Cathedral (Katedrála Sv. Víta), but I found that I needed to go back out to the courtyard to buy a ticket to tour it (there's an area in the front where you can enter and take pictures for free, but you have to buy a ticket to enter the much larger cordoned off section).  The skies had briefly cleared a bit when I went back outside, and I noticed that an area had been cordoned off for the noon changing of the guard (which I had originally planned on seeing, but forgot about because of the rain).  I found a spot to watch, and the proceedings started after a few minutes of waiting.  There were a couple of sprinkles before and during the 15 minute event, but nothing too bad.

After the guard change, I went over to buy an entry ticket for the castle exhibits (most areas are free to walk through, but not the interesting exhibits).  I noticed that there was an English guided tour scheduled to start at 12:30, but it sold out (apparently 27 is the maximum number of participants) while I was stuck in line.  With that, I decided to buy a basic ticket and explore the 4 included exhibits without even an audio guide.  I first went back to St. Vitus' Cathedral (again entering just as the harder rain was starting to come down) and walked through that for a while.  It was clear again when I left the cathedral (and would remain so for the rest of the day, though the cool temperatures mostly persisted), and I next headed to the Old Royal Palace before stops at the Basilica of St. George and the Golden Lane.

When I was done with the castle, I headed back to a vegan restaurant named loVeg that I had passed on the walk up.  After eventually getting in (it's tucked away up a couple of flights of stairs, so it's a good thing that they have a sign and a couple of flags outside) and sitting down around 2:45, I ordered the vegan take on the traditional Czech goulash and a Fritz-Limo organic sparkling apple "lemonade".  The goulash was unexpectedly very flavorful, and makes me wonder if the regular thing (with beef, I think) tastes as good.

With lunch over, I next headed for the Loreto (Loreta in Czech), a Baroque-style church complex suggested by my guidebook.  For some inexplicable reason I bought another (bigger, though cheaper) trdelník on the way, though I didn't finish it.  Anyway, they do something interesting there regarding photography - while most places typically allow or ban photos for all tourists, the Loreto charges an extra fee for a pass (really, a sticker) that permits you to take photos.  Like a sucker (not really, it was mostly worthwhile), I opted for the photo pass (100 Kč) and the audio guide (150 Kč) in addition to the regular entry (150 Kč), for a total of 400 Kč (which is really only $16 USD).

After the Loreto tour, I headed to the Observation Tower on Petřín Hill and bought a ticket to ascend to the top.  I did not pay the extra fee to take the elevator, and instead hoofed it up like most people.  After taking pictures on the two observation decks, I stopped in the cafe for some ice cream, quickly walked through the exhibition hall on the lower level, and then left around 6:20.  I wandered down the ziz-zag paths of the hill's park, regained my bearings at the bottom, then found and crossed the Legií Bridge like I had done the evening before.  From there I took a different path back to the hotel (walking over to and through Wenceslas Square, as opposed to a more direct route through New Town), where I spent the rest of the evening/night


An album of all my favorite photos from the trip can be found here:
Google Photos (no photo spheres)
Google+ Photos (includes photo sphere functionality)

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