Day 3: Prague 

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As a kid I LOVED wearing matching clothes with my siblings. (Probably because I wasn’t the oldest.) Richard hated it. (Probably because he was the oldest.) I couldn’t resist buying matching tees for our Bird Family Vacay. But then to be honest, I felt like such a geek that we never wore them all on the same day again.

Monday morning I woke up early and went for a run.  I saw a side of Dresden that was so different from what we’d seen the day before.  It was neighborhood streets with charming European homes and every third shop was a “backerei” – which meant the aromas were amazing.  

We were really efficient in the morning and out the door around 8:30 for our drive to Prague.  I don’t remember exactly what time we arrived in Prague, but our first few hours there were downright miserable.  We drove to our hotel, which wasn’t ready for us to check-in which was fine.  In her best English the lady at the desk directed me to a parking lot.  But upon arriving at the parking lot we realized we needed to pay in cash, which is the Koruna Crown and we didn’t have any.  So we drove around looking for an ATM and then returned to the parking lot.  We parked the car and then started walking back toward the hotel to catch the tram.  Unfortunately there was no ticket office or kiosk at the tram station so we walked back to the hotel to ask where we would get tickets.  Unfortunately the place suggested to us didn’t sell children’s tickets, so we had to walk even further to a metro station.  It was so. hot.  SO HOT.  When we got to the metro station is was nice and cool down in the tunnel so we grabbed lunch at a little snack shop, bought our tickets and finally made our way into the city.  

Even after we got to the city center we weren’t sure how to get where we wanted to go.  In Dresden we had gotten a city map at a tourist office and that had made a huge difference, so we walked to the first tourist office we could find. Unfortunately all the maps were in Czech which really doesn’t resemble any language I am familiar with.  (Which aren’t many I suppose.)  

So we did the obvious thing and made our way up to the castle.  It was up a hill and we were so hot we just walked as slowly as we could.  Fortunately I had frozen all the plastic water bottles we had bought in Dresden and so we had a lot of cold water on hand.  

And Prague is a really beautiful city.  All the building facades are ornate, colorful and varied.  It was really lovely. (And everything was really cheap!)

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The view from the castle.

We bought tickets to tour the castle, cathedral and basilica and meandered our way through it.  It was old.  It was huge.  It was really cool.  I really hate to say lame things like “once you’ve seen a castle, you’ve seen them all” but they really do become slightly less amazing each time.  And maybe since it was so wretchedly hot it was harder to enjoy.  But we made the best of it.  
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I must say, cathedrals never get less beautiful.

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There was a really cute toy shop on Golden Lane where we let the kids pick a souvenir.

Fortunately the walk from the castle down to Charles Bridge was all downhill.  A guide book I read said that Charles Bridge was the author’s favorite royal quarter mile – and despite it being really crowded I was impressed. From Wikipedia: 

“The bridge is 621 m long and nearly 10 m wide, resting on 16 arches. It is protected by three bridge towers… The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas.”

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I didn’t get a good photo of the bridge itself, but this a view from the bridge of the Vltava river.

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One of the 30 beautiful baroque statues.

Once we reached the other side of the bridge we were sweltering and the kids were pretty burned out. I couldn’t bear the thought of being done for the day so we rejuvenated with ice cream and picked a couple more places to see.  
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Before ice cream…

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Ice cream! We were always careful to find places that had sorbet for Simon, and he was always first to finish.

We walked to the Market Square, where restaurant employees and firemen sprayed hot tourists with water and there were street performers and live music.  Along with our sugar high, it re-energized us.  
We watched the Procession of the 12 Apostles as the Astronomical Clock struck 5:00 p.m.  Oringinally installed in 1410, it is the oldest working clock of it’s kind in the world.   Then we decided it was time to find a nice restaurant for a proper sit-down dinner.  

Mmmmmm.  Our dinner.  It took a little while but eventually we found a place offering authentic Czech food and it was soooo good.  It was probably my favorite meal.  It wasn’t air conditioned in the building, but it was cooler than outside, and after so much walking it felt so nice to relax.  I had beef goulash with white bread dumplings, the kids had schnitzel, and Richard had pork with potato dumplings.  It was all really delicious.  After dinner we needed to pick up a few practical things like another outlet adapter, so we did some quick shopping and then I begged the kids to hold out for one more stop.  

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This just says it all. Simon, picking his nose. Eli’s mind is definitely somewhere else. Mim is stubbornly refusing to be in another picture. Cameron halfheartedly accommodating.

The compromise to go see one more place included riding a tram instead of walking, and we made our way to the Lennon Wall.  During the communist regime in the 1980s the wall became a place where young Czechs voiced their desire for freedom, and John Lennon became the symbol of that hope.  No matter how often local authorities white-washed over the wall within days it was recovered with messages of love and peace.   We had a good talk with the kids about freedom of speech and what it is/was like for people living under communist rule. 
From there we took the tram back to the metro and then rode back to our hotel.  Richard walked with Cameron and Eli back to the car to retrieve our luggage and then we all crashed in our hostel-style single beds lining the walls of our giant shared room.  

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