Prague to Paris, Starting in Prague

In May of 2017, we were temporarily without a camper, and Denise decided that she needed a trip somewhere! So, as we are loyal PBS viewers and as several friends had enjoyed a Viking River cruise in Europe, we made a last minute decision to cruise with Viking on their Prague to Paris jaunt. We gave Viking only about three weeks notice, but we were pleasantly surprised that they managed to fit us in with a minimum of fuss and bother, both on the cruise, and on our various flights. We first flew, via Amsterdam, to Prague, a city that Denise had always wanted to visit. We were greeted with lovely sunny weather and thoroughly enjoyed our ramble around the city on the afternoon of our arrival. It was such a lovely day, we just had to have cake and espresso! It was at this point that we discovered that, despite being in the EU, the Czech Republic is not a Euro country. Worse, most ATM’s in Prague only accept local cards! Finally we were able to exchange US$ cash for sufficient local currency and the coffee and goodies were ours. The moral of the story is that it is always a good idea to have some local currency on hand! Not all of Prague was dignified and classic, we enjoyed several oddball sights as well: Being quite tired, we had dinner in a restaurant in our hotel, which served local specialties. The “queen” of Czech cooking is said to be roast beef with cream sauce, Svíčková. Certainly the dish we had was out of this world. When we looked it up in our European cookbook, we realized that the book dated from the Cold War and noted that this dish, along with the famous Prague Ham, was unavailable locally. Reminded us of Cuba – Cubans would look at a Cuban cookbook from Miami and comment, “Yeah, my mother would talk about those dishes.” How times change!  We found a recipe in a cookbook on our riverboat and photographed it!  You can also find various recipes on the Internet: https://www.eatingeurope.com/svickova-braised-beef-recipe/ A tour the next morning showed us some of the city’s highlights, including the Prague Castle with its spectacular views and interesting history. (See photo at top of post.)  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_Castle)
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St. Vitus Cathedral. (This church was used as a background in the movie “A Knight’s Tale.”)

Parts of the Prague Castle as still used as government offices. (We had flashbacks was we watched a motorcade arrive!)

Ah, memories! And this time we don’t have to do anything!

Then we simply joined the crowds to enjoy the spectacle of the ceremonial changing of the guard.

Love the old goose step, Soviet style

Prague, like many medieval cities sits astride a river. _ND86822 One way to cross the river is the Charles Bridge, famous for its many statues. Two are especially interesting. It is a crucifixion scene, labeled in Hebrew – an incentive for Jews to convert. (We were to see more of this theme.)
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The caption on this crucifix is in Hebrew and exhorts Jews to convert to Christianity.

And if you weren’t ready to convert, there is a statue on the spot where John of Nepomuk is said to have been martyred by being thrown off the bridge. Notice that the image of the saint and the cross are shiny – you touch them for luck. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Nepomuk) _ND86877 Both were reminders that history has its rough side.
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Charles iV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor. Note the incredible detail of his clothing.

The bridge is named for Charles IV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_IV,_Holy_Roman_Emperor Once back in the city center, we chose to leave the tour and enjoy a quiet lunch a little off the beaten track. We duly admired the famous clock striking the hour off the Market Square. In addition to telling the time and various astronomical data, it features saints and apostles appearing at the windows. Of course, you need a degree to understand all of the data presented – and this thing was built in the 1400’s! Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_astronomical_clock
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Click on the image to enlarge and see St. Peter, with his key to Heaven, in the window

And we tried the local delicacy of Tredelnik, a charcoal roasted pastry. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trdeln%C3%ADk) Keeping up with the times, it is now available filled with soft ice cream. A divine mess!

Baking over charcoal on spinning wooden rods.

And another famous street food, Prague Ham.

Prague Ham

The pastry/Ice cream fix accomplished, we had to find a horse carriage for the obligatory tour. That night, we went to a tourist dinner with local dishes and traditional dancing.  The music was great, the dancing was fun, and the costumes lovely, but the food at our hotel was better! _ND86962_ND86961 The next morning we headed off by bus to Germany to board the Viking Alsvin. We spent the first night tied up to an industrial dock at Bamberg.

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