One morning in Prague when he woke from troubled dreams, Alexander found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back… vertebrae protruding through his fatless physique… and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, flat to concave, just beyond the arches of his ribs. His legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.
“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small as in most AirBnBs, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls.
This was the land of Kafka. Of spires and Pilsner Urquell and its 4″ pour of foam. (Oh, the horror!) Here, our children were coaxed into concert halls for Mozart, the synagogue for art and underground to escape the heat. We had come to Prague, to be transformed.
Vivaldi to Brahms
On our very first day we followed our normal routine and left our Airbnb in the late afternoon to find a grocery store (milk, cereal, coffee) and check out the town. (Incidentally, Alexander had not undergone a Metamorphosis.. that whole opening was nothing more than yet-another pathetic click-bait construct on my part. But you’re here, aren’t you!?)
Anyway, on this afternoon quest for breakfast-foods, we wandered past the famous Municipal Hall. A friendly lady with the air of a school-marm showed us the flier for a concert tonight. Tonight? Surely it’s sold out. (No.) Surely it’s expensive! (No! Quite reasonable!) Surely, you don’t want us tourists and our (gasp) KIDS in here! WEARING SHORTS!? (why yes! Shorts are fine and kids are FREE!).
With the one-hour concert starting at 8pm and the UEFA Euro Cup final game at 9.. we thought.. LOVELY. And it was. We carried out backpacks with milk and cereal and coffee right into the concert and enjoyed it greatly. And no goal was scored until late in the match.. perfect!
World War II Tour
With so much history in Prague… from the Nazis preemptively rolling tanks in to the city to the lucky preservation of buildings and their ornamentation which carried through the war itself… we embarked with anticipation on a short walking tour of the city and all its World War II sites. Most surprising was the amount of the city that’s underground– critically used as bunkers, prisons and escape routes while the Czech resistance stood up to the Nazis.
Hot Day Water Seekers
ON our third day the temperature skyrocketed… so we sought ways to stay wet. The city ran a water truck through the Old Town square to dowse the scorching tourists… and we followed Rick Steve’s podcast advice to head to the Vltava river for some swimming!
Sadly… when we got there we noticed there were literally NO people in the water, and the bartender at the riverside cafe said he thought this was a crazy idea — the river is unsafe! Thus, no swimming for us. Instead, we took advantage of the lovely lounge chairs and readily available (delicious) Czech beer.
On our last day, we met up with the Carr family (yay!) and joined together for a food tour. We had a fantastic time… trying everything from “Chlebicek” (open faced sandwiches) to butchered pork knuckles to “sweet” beer (a LOT of foam) in the Communism-styled “Lokal” to modern Czech cuisine at the newly opened Eska.
Prague was a pretty short stop for us… just 3.5 days. The sights were beautiful, the food was great, and we had a lovely time! Definitely on the list for a return visit someday…
And yes, that’s Kafka’s head below. It transforms as it stares watchfully at the city government. Lucky for you and the kids who read this blog… I omitted a photo of the Kafka museum with the two urinating men out front!
Onward to Vilshofen, Germany where we start our Danube River trip!