Tag Archives: Green garland pension

Prague Castle and thereabouts

133.JPGAnother day of perfect weather Sunday and we joined hordes of tourists — no joke, I’m talking Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade size crowds, Iowa State Fair Size crowds, Obama’s (first) inauguration size crowds – crossing the fabled Charles Bridge to head up the hill to the Prague Castle complex, a series of grand buildings centered around the massive St.Vitus Church, where we watched the rather amusing changing of the guards, who wore shades and powder blue uniforms designed by Hollywood director Milos Foreman’s costume designer Theodor Pistek (at the then-new president Vaclav Havel’s request, no less!). (see bottom photo) Church construction began in 1344 and ended in 1921. yes, you read that right. Although the glorious Alfons Mucha art nouveau stained lass window came later, in 1931. (This trip has made me a mucho Mucha fan.)

Much of the complex required an admission ticket, alas, which we didn’t feel like paying. We did pay to wind down from the palace through some lovely terraced formal Royal gardens (
Zahrady gardens) and landed at Besada, a surprisingly good restaurant in Malostranska Square for lunch that we just chanced upon, that served surprisingly good hearty Czech food- snitzel, pork medallions, potatoes, potato and sauerkraut pancakes.

Next stop, we walked up and up and up steps of a nearby park to the funicular, which we used to sail down the north bank. Then we walked along the river, admiring the boats and the Sunday strollers until we reached the Charles Bridge again, this time dominated by a French food fair and a boisterous French brass band that the locals and tourists seemed to love.

Back at our pension, the lovely Green Garland Pension (Pension U Zeleneho Vence) on Retezov Street, we had one last coffee (tea for some) at Montmarte, an atmospheric cafe across the street and excellent gelato at a good place near the hotel, Creameries Milano ( 12 Husova) before bidding a sad goodbye to our London friends who flew home to London. We had adequate Italian food near our hotel at Olive Nera, enjoying eating at the outdoor cafe overlooking a pretty square and people watching. (Our evening was marred only briefly by a garbage truck that parked right in front of our table to pick up, slowly, the trash. On a Sunday night no less.)

On Monday morning we took one last wander around the area behind the big church in the Od Town square, finding even more gorgeous art nouveau and art deco buildings. And then off to Prague’s airport where I flew to London (on a decent British Airways flight) and then to Chicago (on a worn-out American Airlines plane)  after going through three security checkpoints for that flight alone. (Another in Prague.)






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Prague fairyland

146.JPGPrague is stunning. My neck seems to be locked in an upward position as I walk through the OlD Town staring up at one spectacularly ornate building facade and church after another. Ornate decorative details everywhere you look, rococo and baroque and art nouveau; buildings adorned with sculptures of buxom women, elaborate iron balconies, gold leaf, geometric patterns. My favorite today hands down was the incredible art nouveau Municipal Building and a small museum devoted to the work of alphonse Mucha. Also walked across the Charles Bridge in early eve.

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Prague Castle

We are staying in the heart of it all at the Green Garland Pension, a 14th century building on Retezova Street, a narrow street made of old paving stones. Already we have eaten very well, first at The Bake Shop, which we found instead of the Jewish deli we were looking for and has a wide selection of salads, breads, meats, pastries; later at Club architecture, which served nouvous Czech cuisine…I had an excellent beef goulash with dumplings. We also had coffee yesterday morning across,the street at an old place called Montmarte and beer at a brew pub down the street and tonight at another bohemian bar, Literati Kavarna Retezova.

Tonight we splurged for Russ’s 56th birthday at Celeste, a fancy French restaurant atop Frank Gehry’s building on the river known as Dancing House (because you cn almost make out ginger and fred dancing). excellent food, spectacular view of the castle across the river high on a hill above the river. AFter that went to a small cavernous blues club around the block from our pension to hear a band fronted by a guy from small town Oklahoma.

We also had good thin crust pizza at a little open air place near Wenceslas Square, pulcinella, (via melantrichova #11) and coffee and pastry at a hard to find place, Mysak, opened on 1911.


Municipal Building

We toured several,incredibly beautiful synagogues and a very old Jewish cemetery in the Jewish district, including one temple,where the walls are painted with thousands of names, one afte another after another of Czech jews who died in the holocaust. very moving. We also walked across the elegant Charles Bridge and into the main town square.

we met up,as planned with our friends from London Francine and Russ who,we,last traveled with last october in New Orleans. I have traveled,to 17 places and counting with Franc during our 34 year friendship, about a third if those the trips with our husbands in tow, to a,variety of places from Arkansas to Ireland, Santa Fe to Paris.






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