Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I just returned from an absolutely splendid 3 days in Prague, Czech Republic From the moment I walked into the city from the train station, I knew I was in for an exciting travel experience. The scenic train ride from Vienna took about four hours. I was lucky to get directions to my hotel from a friendly young Czech student who was sharing the train compartment with me. He told me Czechs were friendly people – my experience in Prague attests to this fact.
My hotel “Cathedral Apartments” was located right off the main old town center square. During my first night in Prague I just just stood in the middle of Old Town Square and soaked it all in. The square was jam packed with tourists from around the world speaking a variety of languages, all enthralled by the many street entertainers trying to entice a crowd around them with their music and/or street performances.
“The main sightseeing areas of Prague are separated by the Vltava River. On the left bank there is the Prague Castle area and Lesser Town. The right bank is home to the Old Town, the Jewish Quarter, and the New Town. Spanning the Vltava River and connecting the Old Town and Lesser Town is the beautiful Charles Bridge.”
The Gothic and Baroque architecture also blew me away! Everywhere you look in and around historic Prague are amazing embellished Gothic and Baroque buildings, churches, sculptures and government buildings. Being an art history professor made me appreciate the architecture so much more – in fact, I had to pinch myself being surrounded by so much wonderful art, rich culture and history.
According to View on Cities web site…
“The Old Town Square and the surrounding quarter form the heart of the city of Prague. The lively square is lined with magnificent buildings in different architectural styles, from Gothic to Baroque. The most famous building at the Old Town Square is the 14th century Old Town City Hall. Its Gothic tower, built in 1364, is one of the most recognizable buildings in Prague. The tower is famous for its magnificent astronomical clock, built in 1410. It is the oldest such clock in Europe. Throngs of tourists gather in front of the clock every hour to witness the procession of miniature figures.”
Prague is a great “walking city”. You can get to just about all major sights by hiking around the city with a good map and of course your camera. It’s truly one of the most amazing and historic cities I have ever visited.
Visiting the St. Vitus Cathedral and the Infant of Jesus in Prague were two special highlights of my trip, in addition to the Prague Castle, St. Charles Bridge and lucking out and getting to see the changing of the guard at the castle.
As I walked into the nave and walked down towards the apse of the St. Vitus and Infant of Jesus Cathedrals I thought about what it must have been like to be living during the 11th Century and attending this Cathedral. The stained glass literally activated the interior space with multicolored spiritual light and your eyes are pulled upward to the heavens due to the height of the ceiling and towering columns.
I spent about 30 minutes studying the architecture and the beautiful stained glass. It is difficult for us living in 2013 to truly appreciate these Cathedrals because we look at them differently than the common people did back in 900+ years ago. The Cathedral was a testament to the faith of these people and their dedication to spreading the word of God and Christianity via art and architecture.
All in all I had a great and personally enriching 3 days in Prague and now I am back in Vienna for for one more day before flying back to New York tomorrow.
I find travel enlightening and educational. It informs and broadens me as a person, in addition to giving me insight into other cultures, languages and countries.
A final note…I got off the train in Vienna at the wrong stop at 11:00pm. There are 2 stops in Vienna and I should have gotten off at the second stop. I walked off the train and realized I had no idea where I was nor how to get back to my friend Roberto’s apartment. Nothing looked familiar and I could feel the anxiety building up inside of me. I walked outside the train station and asked an older gentleman if he spoke English. He said a little bit and luckily directed me to another train that would take me to the correct underground train back to the district where I had to go.
I also got lost in Prague heading for the train station and a young woman (guardian angel) came out of nowhere and walked me to the station. I had lost my bearings in the dark and was going in the wrong direction. I have found that people are friendly and helpful wherever you travel. It gives me faith in humanity.
My 3 week adventure in eastern Europe is coming to an end. I fly back to JFK tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my family.
Here is a web site for traveling to Prague. Below are more photos from my 3 day adventure! Enjoy!
Final note…The Czech beer is absolutely delicious! I have not had one bad beer in Prague or Vienna. Believe me I have done the research! 🙂