Our driver met us just before 10 a.m. in “CK” as he called it. He was an interesting guy, with two degrees, one in civil engineering and another in psychology. We had an unusually in-depth and considered conversation en route, considering the language issues, including Terence Malick, meditation, psychiatry and rural life. With nothing but a five minute pit stop we were in Prague in less than two hours.
The Powder Tower, part of the royal route into the old town.
We were able to check in early then hit the streets. We had a fresh and tasty lunch at a Whole Foods type of place, then wandered the old town, then crossed the Charles Bridge (construction began in 1357), went up the south tower, doubled back over the Manes Bridge, and continued our wandering through Josefov, the old Jewish Quarter, where our hotel is, now an area rapidly undergoing gentrification.
Archway leading to the Charles Bridge.
The central square in the Old Town. Yes, that is two actual live persons and one is balanced on a stick.
We happened upon an inconsequential church on a side street. There were three people praying inside. It was St. Nicholas, a church with an interesting back story, but who can remember with all these churches day after day?
Tourist hordes, on tour, at the Charles Bridge.
View to old town from the bridge.
At one end of the bridge is the South Tower.
The climb upstairs is a little on the steep side.
The views are good.
You have an excellent vantage of all the tours and tourists.
Can you spot the McDonald’s?
Prague castle, also the presidential palace, is in the distance.
We spent a long time winding our way back to the hotel.
The old Jewish quarter has some interesting buildings.
The “modern” Intercontinental is a stark contrast with the older buildings; it has a socialist era modernist sensibility which is both boring and innovative.
This is down the street from the hotel.
There are high end boutiques and beautiful florists nearby.
But really, as SS put it, someone needs to put Donatella Versace out of her misery.
Versace wasn’t the only tony fashion stop. You could also get a good ham.
…to say nothing of an oversized meringue:
We’re at the Hotel Moods. We chose this hotel not because of its location, price or online reviews. We chose it because of its beds. Why? I have an unusual bucket list item; I want to sleep on a Hastens bed, a Hypnos bed and a Dux bed. Before I spend the rest of eternity sleeping. These hand-crafted straw filled Swedish mattresses start around $10k CDN and climb from there; I believe their top of the line king is over $100k.
The plaid covering is the signature Hastens trademark.
Bucket list item two is to then win the lottery and buy a high end bed. Sleeping on one of these expensive puppies is harder than you might imagine. But Prague offered us three options and we booked Moods, on a whim.
SS says that, in terms of boutique hotels, we are nearing the end of our adult lives where they still fulfil an interest. But Moods has some interesting points. The room numbers are on the ceilings; stupid. The stairway is colour coded; sort of cool. The rooms have color changeable lighting; interesting. And the whole hotel has quotes from a book by Peter Sis.
Petr Sis is a pretty famous illustrator, and you will know him (if you have a child under 10 in the house). You may know him, e.g., from his book Trucks, Trucks, Trucks (not to be confused with his earlier book, which was much more focused, Fire Truck). In his “exclamation point” quartet his thematic purpose contemplates looking up, Going Up!, looking about, Ship Ahoy!, looking out, Komodo!, and looking back, Dinosaur! What’s all this Sis? Bits of his text are reprinted on the walls here. Which is clever because one of his better books, for adults, is The Wall, where the drawings are about growing up in the communist era, then seeking political asylum in the US (not an American border deterrent, aka La Pared! Sabes qué?).
As for the hotel room proper, it is in the end just a hotel room. But we are high up and there is a nice view towards the river.
The city is lively and awash in half of Europe all either on a cultural crawl or a drunken sprawl. But we have actually seen more fashionable trends here than anything in Vienna. In fact, Prague has inspired me to adopt a new look.
I was taken with the many options.
SS has suggested the Lana Turner relaxing at home look. I’m giving it some thought.
For dinner we went a couple of blocks to an appealing Italian place, Godfather-ish with its checkered tablecloths. They were full up with only reserves. As we loitered, a waiter told us they had one free table on the cobblestone square. What a hardship, eating outside on a beautiful evening. We took it! Had a relaxed meal then a long walk in the hood.
Around nine we headed back towards the hotel. There was a hypnotizing ambient orange hue cast over old town. It was a beautiful end to a busy day.