We rose early to take in a few sites before meeting my Slovakian ex-brother-in-law Sano around noon. A few short steps from our airbnb was Josefov (the Jewish Quarter of Prague) where we did a self-guided tour of the Jewish Museum of Prague (which consists of several historic synagogues which have been transformed into museums focused on different aspects of Jewish history in Prague and of the Jewish faith. We first visited the Pinkas Synagogue, which dates from 1535 but was turned into a memorial int he mid-late 1950s to 80,000 regional Jews murdered by the Nazis, as well as an exhibit of children’s drawings from the Terezín Ghetto. Both exhibits were profoundly sobering.
Next we visited the 600-year-old over-crowded Old Jewish Cemetary which was quite something to behold.
It was a brisk morning, so before heading to the railway station to collect Sano we stopped for a quick glass of hot svařák (hot mulled wine you can pick up from a street vendor in Prague). We were also tempted to buy a trdelník (think roasted doughnut filled with ice cream) and regret not giving into our impulses.
Once we had Sano with us we connected with Clara and West and made our way back across the Charles bridge to explore the Prague Castle. But first we stopped for a lunch deep in the catacombs of some restaurant dungeon we happened upon. One reason we ate there was because they had bryndzové halušky – The national dish of Slovakia! I remember Sano’s mother making this for me when I visited them in the early 1990s. We were also able to get some vegetable risotto, a vegetarian dish (a concept that was impossible to concieve of in Czechloslovakia back in the early 1990s). Sano and West being vegetarians we were glad to find these items on the menu.
After lunch we burned off our bryndzové halušky with the long hill climb up to the Prague Castle complex.
We headed towards St. Vitus Cathedral which I had visited back in 1991 and had incorporated the cathedral exterior into my college senior film project. But, I had never been inside. When we entered the cathedral I was entralled with the spectacular stained glass, including one by Alphonse Mucha who’s museum we had gone to yesterday. Sorry for all the pictures, but the glasswork was truly amazing and the weather perfect for illuminating it.
After St. Vitus we toured the decidedly less opulent 1099 year old St. George’s Basilica.
Our wanderings continued to the Golden Lane where castle workers once lived. At one time Franz Kafka even lived in one of these diminutive apartments. At the end of the lane there was a dungeon where castle prisoners were once kept (and confessions coerced).
We wandered down from the castle to find someplace for an afternoon coffee followed by a beer.
We stopped at a small cafe next to the Franz Kafka Museum where Clara and West went to spend an hour and Tawny and I caught up with Sano. The cafe along the Vltava river had the most spectacular view…from the men’s room…
We walked along the Vltava past the Charles Bridge and crossed back to the Old Town side on a quest to find Botas 66 sneakers – the original Czech sneaker. On the way we passed some new modern architectural styles that blended into the architectural mosaic that is Prague.
As we searched for a place to have dinner we found a vegan restaurant nearby and had a great meal, including vegan wine before heading in for the night. It had been a long and lovely day and great to reconnect with Sano again.