This post is the conclusion of the series documenting our travels through a small part of Central Europe. We had spent the last 4 days of our 11 day trip in and around the Czech capital of Prague. Inspite of the crowds Prague had very quickly become my favourite European City till date, it was just that beautiful! We never ran out of things to do and great places to eat in our time there. The 8 posts are a testament to that!
We were now on our final day in Prague and had walked around the New Town and Little Quarter in the first half of the day. (Prague , Part 7 – Walking around the New Town & Little Quarter). We had run out of time to visit the Jewish Quarter and the multiple Synagogues in it. But I didn’t want to leave Prague without seeing the oldest active synagogue in Europe. So before we returned to our hotel we bought tickets only to the Old New Synagogue (It is more cost effective to buy a combo ticket to the entire Jewish Quarter but we just didn’t have the time!)
We gave our tickets to the old lady at the entrance who gave me a Kippah to cover my head as is the norm in a Synagogue. With the Kippah on my head we entered the relatively small but serene structure.
This was the first synagogue we had ever visited. This one had a double nave contrasting with the single long nave of churches. The Jewish Pulpit or the bimah is located in the centre with seats all around it. The holy ark containing Torah scrolls are located in the wall in the direction of Jerusalem.
We sat in the seats for a few minutes looking around when I noticed the abnormal looking ribs in the vaults. Later I read that the architects might have used 5 ribs instead of the usual 4 to avoid it being mistaken for a cross.
After taking another round of this structure we moved out. I attempted to give my Kippah back to the old lady but apparently it was for me to keep as a souvenir. So I now have a Kippah in case I want to visit a Synagogue on my future trips!
As had become the routine on this trip we returned to the Hotel Hastal to rest our legs in the evening when the sights had closed but it was too bright for the lights to come on.
I wanted to eat somewhere in New Town that night, the aim being to walk along the river post dinner and see all the pretty buildings lit up. So I reserved a table at a restaurant called Pivovarsky Dum which had great reviews and was at the right location.
By now we had become experts at using the public transport in Prague. We caught the tram from the nearest stop to our hotel and took a seat as the tram chugged along the streets and dropped us right across the road to the restaurant. All energy conserved for the post dinner walk back!
The restaurant was quite busy and we were shown to the table reserved for us. We had already decided what we were going to eat from the menu available online so no time was wasted. I was not going to miss the chance to eat my last Goulash with dumplings and the better half ordered both her new favourite dish, potato pancakes and her old staple Gnocchi. We were at a brewhouse and this was my last evening in Prague so I ordered their house Pale ale. Both the food and the beer was excellent and we relished our meal.
After I finished my first Stein of beer I couldn’t resist having another small one of the house Dark brew and it was the best beer I had on this trip. Maybe because it was the last one in Prague!
Properly fed and hydrated we stepped out of the Pivovarsky Dum and the lights had just started to come on. Perfect timing! We walked towards the Vltava on this perfect clear evening.
The lights make everything look pretty and Prague is already quite spectacular. The buildings along the river were all lit up. We crossed the so called ” Dancing House” and took photos of the crooked buildings that look as if they are at a ball.
There is a walkway built along the Vltava for part of the way to Charles Bridge. A perfect place for a peaceful post dinner walk and we descended the steps to the walkway and did exactly that. The Prague castle in the distance looked as pretty as a postcard and I must have taken photos of the castle after every hundred metres.
We walked as far as the walkway went and then climbed the stairs back up to road level. There are multiple small islands in the centre of the river & there was a concert going on in one of these islands. Sadly we didn’t have the time to go and attend.
We just took photos of the castle from the pedestrian bridge leading to the island before resuming our walk back to Old town.
The entire riverfront is lined by Art Nouveau buildings. Even residential buildings have exteriors which look good by day and great when lit up.
We then reached the National Theatre which is a landmark building easily recognisable in the skyline of Prague. We had only seen this building from afar and this was the first time I got a chance to photograph it in all its glory all lit up!
Now the iconic Charles bridge came into view and combined with the castle on the top of the hill it is one of the prettiest city panoramas you will ever see!
Now I was taking photo every ten metres as the lighting kept changing as it got darker and darker. We stopped at a place from where the entire panorama was unobstructed and there were no crowds. We stood there for some time putting our cameras away and just enjoyed the view.
We then started our walk again and soon came across a spire at ground level. It turned out to be a gothic styled fountain which was not running. Even then it was beautiful enough to warrant a photo or two.
We then reached the spot where I had accidentally reached on my early morning walk to Charles Bridge and I took a photo of the same spot at night to go with my early morning one.
We didn’t want to deal with the crowds of Charles Bridge again so we took an alternate route to the old town square. We had visited this square every night in Prague and we did it again, Old town square never gets old!
Even though the Astronomical clock was out for restoration we stopped to see the digital projection do its routine as the clock stuck 10. While its obviously not the real thing, something is better than nothing!
Old town square was packed as usual. We walked amongst the scores of people enjoying this city and considered ourselves lucky to be there.
We then sat for a few minutes at the benches near the Huss memorial and stared at the splendour all around. We had an early morning flight out of Prague next day and we reluctantly left our seats and returned to our hotel.
The supermarket opposite the hotel was open and it gave me the chance to buy edible souvenirs to take back home. So we bought Czech cheeses, coffee and chocolates to savour long after returning home. The cheese and chocolates are long gone now, but the coffee is still there to remind me of the wonderful time spent in Prague.
After a great night’s sleep at the Hastal we woke up early and got ready in time for our rebooked car to the airport. The flights back home to Mumbai via Brussels were comfortable and uneventful.
It had been a great vacation but all good things come to an end and so did this trip. What remains are these great memories and photographs. The prime reason I write these posts, to keep the memories safe for a time when my actual memory starts failing me.
Prague went to the top of the list with Siena in Italy as places I would love to return to one day. Lets hope I do sooner rather than later! That is the end of this series that went on for longer than I initially anticipated.
Till next time in a new post, from a new destination, in a new country ( or maybe the same!), for the last time in this series,