Sunday 21 September 2008

Day 7: Back to Prague

Our cycling was done - it was over in a flash, really. No more helmets, no more waddling through pretty towns in padded shorts. We were all ready at 8:30 AM, but where was the minibus? Not again... We didn't have to wait as long this time, and soon we were back in Prague.

We had about an hour and a half before we had to meet for our walking tour, so S and I tagged along for lunch with M, E, St and Su. We ordered some pizza and thumbed through a real estate magazine while we waited. Long story short, the pizza didn't come. We realized that if we didn't say anything, we wouldn't eat. The server was apologetic, but ultimately could not do much to speed it up. Again, the meals came separately, so we shared what came, shoved it down our throats, and ran to meet the group. Why has mealtime been so complicated on this trip?

We took the Metro to Muzeum, and met our walking tour guide for the afternoon. She took us to many of the same sites that we had seen before, but gave us more information than we had gleaned on our own.


Apparently, the blue doors at the top of the clock open every hour on the hour, and 12 apostles parade by while Death - the skeleton - rings a bell. (The following day we happened to see the hourly march of the apostles. It was disappointing. We were expecting a full cuckoo clock-like display, but they just rotate behind the doors for a few seconds before the doors shut again. The rest of the crowd was impressed and clapped, though.) She explained how to read the clock, but I must admit I didn't understand her explanation. She also told us that it was possible to climb to the top of the tower.

She took us through the Klementinum, over the Charles Bridge (make a wish on the statue of the drowned martyr saint, who happens to be in the construction zone right now), and up to Prague Castle. The view was beautiful, much nicer than it had been the week before.


We saw the (very brief) hourly changing of the guard.



Then we went into the church. The sun was shining through the stained glass windows, giving a lovely glow to the stones.



Detail of the window by Alphonse Mucha

The tour guide was very good and she managed to pack a lot into just three hours. K gave us the option to stay in central Prague for dinner, or go back to the hotel. S and I had left our extra korunas back at the hotel, but did not really want to eat back in that neighborhood. Everyone else opted to go back, though, so we duly followed...

And thus we had our most ridiculous dinner yet! Maybe the kitchen staff worked at the place where we had lunch, and just ran back and forth between the two all day. That would be one explanation for the slow food and bad service. Maybe they weren't used to serving such big groups. Maybe that's just how things are done in Prague. But at any rate, my dinner came after some people had finished their desserts. St had the saddest "nacho salad" that fellow Californians M, E and myself had ever seen or tasted. And the server didn't do a very good job of keeping track of who had eaten what. We got charged for several leftover lemonades and beers at the end. Sigh, oh well! Still, the group had bonded quite well by that time, and people began to say their bittersweet good-byes.

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