Breakfast at the Hilton Hotel; lots of food. View in the photo is from my room and shows the breakfast room. Our morning tour included the castle, the Charles Bridge, and the downtown including the astronomical clock. The Prague castle, inhabited by Hapsburgs reminded me of similar palaces we saw on the Danube, or I should compare them to this castle. It is the largest ancient castle in the world. It started in 870 AD with the construction of its first walled building, the Church of the Virgin Mary. The Basilica of St. Vitus was founded under the reign of Vratislav and his son St. Wenceslas in the first half of the 10th century.
After Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the castle became the seat of the Head of State of the new Czech Republic. On the grounds, we saw many government officials walking smartly in the cold.
Immensely huge complex which we marched around, pausing near the president’s office and in front of St. Vitus cathedral (shown left). The wind was strong and bitterly cold between buildings. I liked the main cathedral tower with two clocks on adjacent sides, one showed hours and the other minutes.
Christmas markets were on and off palace grounds. We listened to a lovely quartet playing just outside the gates with mimes and medieval soldiers. Real life guards in sentry boxes and police on foot patrolled the grounds.
While Ken and Debra queued for the WC, I headed for the street and a small coffee shop for cappuccino. At the next stop for the Charles Bridge, we elected to stay on the bus and return to the hotel, which meant missing the bridge and astronomical clock. I had seen it in 1978, and in the spirit of exploration, we decided to strike out on our own.
Which also meant being lost for about an hour. After initially taking a circuitous route, we were finally safely led by Debra’s iPhone to the Mucha museum.
The museum was smaller than I expected but the shop was at least half the size of the museum. I saw what I wanted but Ken was disappointed that his epic paintings, a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech and the Slavic people in general, were at another museum. We enjoyed rain on our walk in both directions. Before the museum, we ate at a Subways.
We had an early dinner at the hotel bistro, mine was cheese and bread, and we split a tiramisu. I packed and went to bed about 9:30.
Monday, November 30, Prague
Alarm went off at 1:30 am. Luggage had to be in the hall at 3:00. Picked up breakfast box, checked out, and said leisurely good-byes with our fellow Viking passengers. Today was warmer, but rainy. The Prague to Frankfurt leg uneventful. I raced to get my caprese sandwich and cappuccino at my favorite Frankfurt airport bakery near the Z concourse. Our flight to LAX was mostly uneventful.
LAX was jammed. We spent hours in passport and exit control. Airport shuttle ride home encountered much Monday commuter traffic. While crawling the freeways, we had a lovely talk with an Indian couple about vegetarians, Indian food, and God. Harkened back to my flight to Chicago at the start of this adventure and I remembered the woman with her God in her backpack. My journey had come in full circle.
FINAL NOTE ON THE PARIS TO PRAGUE trip: This was a dream adventure for me. I’d love to hear about your dream vacation in the comments!