Prague and London: Part 4

It was time for adventure. Part of the reason we came to Prague was because my husband’s maternal family came from there. We were going to hire a car to go to the small town of Pozdyne, where his great grandfather was from.

First, we had to climb the Astronomical Tower. We had been eyeing it the entire trip so we did it first thing in the morning. To get to the tower, you have to go into the Old Town Hall, which was rather pretty. There was some amazing iron work and mosaics in the building. Next time, we might try a tour of just the building. When you get to the foot of the Tower, you have a choice to take the stairs or an elevator. We opted for stairs. As you spiral up to the tower, you get to see a history of the tower, which was cool. Unfortunately, the Nazis did a number on the building so it had to be rebuilt after the war. At the final end, you have a tiny metal stairway that can only take people in one direction. Then it’s Prague! Beautiful views of the city. You can see the Prague Castle in the distance, the hills. It’s glorious!

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Then it was time to meet the car that would take us to Pozdyne. We set off into outside of Prague. Thanks to a coworker, I had learned of a castle that was on the way. So our first stop was Karlsteyn. Our driver took us to an area he dubbed Little America. I think it’s named for the Grand Canyon but I’m not sure.

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Anyway, as we go to the town with the castle, we learned that they try to force a monopoly on transportation in town. They either want you to walk through the town or even better, hire a horse taxi. Instead, our driver took us the back side of the town to the castle but we could see cars that had been parked and booted. They work fast in the town! We got out and made our ascent to the castle. It was rather impressive. I’ve been to a lot of British and Scottish castles, a few French ones, but this was in the realm of the Disney castle. It’s a tour only facility with several tours not running in the winter. We ended up having a 45 minute wait for the next English tour. There’s one kiosk for unimpressive food. But the wait was well worth it.

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The castle had been built by Charles IV, King of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperor. The castle used to hold the crown jewels but they were eventually moved. The castle never officially fell because the Swedes who came close stopped when they found that the jewels were no longer there. So woohoo to unbroken castle! It was modernized in the 19th century…so no heat. It was a little brisk in late December. We were led through the various rooms learning the history of the place. My favorite fact was that the king and queen slept separately. Her chambers were on another floor. However, the king had a door in his private chapel that led to her bedchamber…

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The King’s impressive bed

The throne room was also set up so the light allowed the king to see his subjects but they could not see his face. That would be incredibly spooky!

In the final stop of the tour, we learned that there is an incredible chapel, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, that is covered in gold, portraits of saints, and more. It’s only available in one tour a day in the summer. We got to see a few copies of the paintings of saints in the room. I learned that the paintings had slots in them where you could put the relics of the saints into their paintings. I had never seen that before. Very cool!

After our tour, we took a leisurely walk through town. Clearly, the town was a bit more hopping during the summer. But it was pretty mild and pleasant to walk through it back to the car.

Now it was time to go to Pozdyne. To get back to the road, our driver used Google maps, which I think decided to go on the adventurous setting. We went up and down zigzag hills etc. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one this happens to! The countryside of the Czech Republic is really beautiful and pleasant.

After about an hour drive, we finally made it to Pozdyne. It’s a beautiful tiny village with about 20 houses…maybe. There’s a tiny chapel in the main square and possibly a closed for the season bar/B&B nearby. A woman was walking her dog. There were satellite dishes so the village was not disconnected from the world. We wandered around for about 10 minutes to see what we could see. Then we got back in the car to go back to Prague. My husband, I think, appreciated the opportunity to see a part of his family history.

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Back in Prague, we took advantage of the late closing times of the local museums and attractions. In Old Town Square, there were exhibitions of Mucha, Dali and Warhol in a local building. We opted for tickets to Mucha and Dali. The Mucha exhibit was really cool because it had lots of his works together. Of course it was mostly reproductions but from his era. I’ve seen his work in books and printed onto merchandise but never en masse. Apparently, his poster of Sarah Bernhardt was what made him famous. They had a little video of her film work on loop. We learned a little bit more about him. Sadly he died after being tortured by the Gestapo, likely because he was too proud of being Czech.

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The Dali exhibition was pretty cool too. They had his drawings illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy. Another room had various drawings of horses from Poseidon’s horses, the Trojan horse, Don Quixote’s horse, etc. And many space elephants.

Then we ran to the funhouse a few streets away. They were advertising a mirror maze. Naturally, we had to check it out. What a hoot! We had fun wandering around the mirror maze, trying not to walk into the mirrors themselves. It was amazing how the maze itself wasn’t a big area but the serpentine path definitely made it seem bigger! There was also crystal cinema where images were projected onto a screen that were reflected onto angled mirrors. It’s a bit like a giant kaleidoscope. It was fun watching images of Prague and the countryside turn into these abstract crazy animations.

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Next stop: London!

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