Friday, August 12, 2011

Europe 2011 - Day 5 - Prague Day 2

Today is a free day so we decided to take it easy and go for a later breakfast and started the day late at 11am. We took the tram at Náměstí Republiky (or Republic Square, yay I'm learning Czech!) and took it all the way to Staroměstská by the Rudolfinum concert hall. We walked along the Vltava River towards the historic Charles Bridge. The bridge is lined with old statues and has a distant view of the city's most famous building, Prague Castle in the Hradčany, Castle District.

Crossing the bridge and the Vltava river, we walked the cobblestone streets (though to be fair, the entire city core is cobblestone), to the Panny Marie Vitezne, a Catholic church. We then walked to St. Nicolas Church, though we didn't go in, we just took a view of the square outside the church. We then proceeded to the Valdštejnská zahrada(Valdstejnska Garden) where we spent probably a good hour just taking photos and taking in the garden's natural beauty. There is a stage where the Senate takes place, as well as a few fountains, garden paths created by hedgerows, a really strange rock wall formation, and peacocks!

We passed by a flag statue, probably a remembrance to World War 2 and then crossed back over the Vltava on a different bridge this time, over the Manesuv Most, back to the Rudolfinum. There were several people trying to promote the concert taking place there. I was actually interested because the programme included Mozart and Vivaldi's Four Seasons, music that I have listened to in a course I took before of Music Appreciation. Having that experience has given me a more in-depth understanding and appreciation (Duh, haha) of classical music.

Getting back on the tram (133) we rode back to Náměstí Republiky. Before returning back to the hotel to take a rest. I stopped by the Palladium mall and tried out some local ice cream. The cherry flavour definitely tastes good and is a signature flavour of the country. I also go to try something called bildberry, which tasted great. A little sour, and reminiscent of another flavour, but I just can't remember what. I also tried out some coffee chain, Costa Coffee, (that I thought was a Czech brand) to try out an iced latte. The coffee was alright. I got it plain, so it wasn't sweet enough, not like the standard Starbucks latte.

Our evening was spent at the Folklore Garden where we experienced what I assume is classic Czech folk dance and folk music. We were greeted with a shot of honey wine at the "folk garden" which seemed too elaborate of being a tourist trap. For the price of 50Euro a person, I think it was a tad bit pricey for what we got. The food was alright: unlimited beer (Staropramen), unlimited red/white wine (both terrible), bread, potato soup, meat platter, coffee + cake. The entertainment of the "band", a trio of violinist, bass, and some kind of stringed percussion instrument, paired alternating with a singer and a pair of dancers.
I guess it wasn't too bad. I had some fun joining in to dance the Mazurka, but I wasn't really blown away with the value of the entertainment and the food; I think I would have been more happy just sitting at a restaurant/cafe in the Old Town.

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