Upon waking up for Day 2 in Prague it was raining in earnest, prompting us to borrow a second umbrella from the front desk. We headed up to the castle climbing very steep hills and stairs, which offered beautiful slightly hidden views of the city. At the top we happened upon the changing of the guard at Prague castle, we hung around for several minutes listening to the live music played from the open windows and watching the uniformed guards march in unison. We then went inside the Prague Cathedral, which looked so similar to Notre Dame except a little smaller and you can get right up to it on all sides. We continued to explore the castle area while heading towards the Lobkowicz Palace – a privately owned palace which showcases the art, music and personal belongings of one of the wealthiest families in Prague, connected to the Hapsburg Dynasty, Holy Roman Empire, and royal family of Spain. This palace/museum offers live chamber music concert at 1 PM every day however, I had read on trip advisor that you can just get a museum ticket and walk through the museum while able to hear the chamber music wafted down the halls. So we got the best of both worlds: muffled chamber music and a whole museum almost devoid of tourists – there were many rooms that we were the only people in. The story of the Lobkowicz family is phenomenal – as the tour is narrated by William Lobkowicz he offers a first hand account into his family history “our family” he starts out “has lost it all and gotten it all back…twice”. He tells of how his family was forced into exile when all of their lands, palaces and treasures were stolen by the Nazis, and later were nationalized by the communists. The highlights of this tour were most definitely seeing the handwritten musical score and edits by Beethoven and Mozart – both musicians who were highly regarded and commissioned by the Lobkowicz family.
Having by now thoroughly explored the Castle area we headed down the Old Castle Stairs towards the Old Town area of Prague. We made our way slowly to the old town square where they have a beautiful clock tower from which a trumpeter in full costume announces each hour by playing a tune from each of the four sides of the tower. The square was so lively with several outdoor grills like they were having a huge pig pickin contest. We had a few more hours to kill before dinner so we kept up our exploring which took us into the Jewish neighborhood of Prague, past a delicious bakery (where, of course, we picked up a few delicious looking pastries to the tune of 2 USD!), and through beautiful side streets and alley ways. Thankfully the rain was only off and on at that point. When it was time for dinner we made a last minute mad dash back to the hotel to drop off our things that way we could continue to explore the old town for St. Patty’s day celebrations.
Dinner was amazing! We had a great red lentil soup to start and each got our own entrees for once, as the portions were normal human sized. I had a great Czech version of a Slovakian dish: Polenta gnocci with sheeps milk sauce and baked tofu while Adam enjoyed a spinach quesadilla complete with guacamole! The menu was small but had so much variety and all with fresh vegetables. Yum! While we originally scoffed at the idea of needing more than 2 hours to eat a vegetarian meal (how much can you eat exactly?) we actually exceeded that by about 20 minutes! Turns out you CAN sit and enjoy your meal for hours on end!
Feeling ready to celebrate the “friendliest day of the year” we headed out to the Old Town square again and went into an Irish pub where they had live guitar and fiddle music played by a man whose Irish brogue was so thick we could barely make out the “Danny boy” in his rendition of Danny Boy. It was insane how crowded this pub was and after a round of Guinness we decided to try and find a slightly less chaotic place to enjoy our day of being Irish. This brought us back to our side of the Charles Bridge where we found a J J Murphys literally a stones throw away from our hostel. Here we met a bunch of Americans, all of whom were living in Prague either as students or working with the military. We had a great time singing songs and practicing the Czech language. A girl we met who is Czech and from Prague couldn’t believe that we were actually trying to use her language “You are only here for three days! You don’t need to learn the language!” After the bar was almost shut down due to noise violations (by this point they were playing the U2 concert from 1995 blasting it out of every stereo) we decided to call it a night despite our new military friends wanting to take us to the local discotheque which “doesn’t get good until 2 am”. We promised to have one last drink with them on Friday at the same spot and went back to our hostel to catch a few hours sleep before getting up to start our last day in Prague.