We took the City Nightline from Amsterdam to Prague. There weren’t too many people headed to Prague so they just tacked a couple of extra sleeper cars on the Amsterdam to Berlin train and then, when we arrived there in the wee hours they attached us to a full train going to Prague. Or at least that’s what they said was going to happen and I have no reason no doubt that is what occurred. It is nice how often, instead of transferring to another train, you just get transferred while you are snoozing away.
We were all up by about 8 a.m. We finished off the bag of fruit and knäckebröd we’ve been carrying around. The kids watched The Sound of Music on my computer while I looked out the window for the distance between Dresden and Prague.
We arrived at the central station a bit late and walked about 15 minutes to reach our hotel, The Agnes, which is located in the old city about a 5 minute walk to the main square. I liked Prague right away. It is a big city, 13th largest in Europe I think, but it feels manageable and accessible. It is touristy, to be sure, but tourists here seem to come observe the scene, not to be the scene the way it felt in Amsterdam.
Old town was very quiet when we arrived this morning. The buildings are pretty uniformly at least a couple of hundred years old with a great many being significantly older. The gothic style is much more ornamental, brightly colored facades, etc. The Czech language is so interesting. You can definitely hear the slavic roots of some words so my Russian helped out a little bit with oral comprehension but the cadence and intonation sounded almost like Italian.
After checking in and freshening up we went out for a traditional Czech lunch: soup, ham with fresh horseradish and mustard (not me), bread dumplings and veggies. The restaurant was quite nicely decorated with original oil paintings on the walls and antique clocks everywhere. We then walked to the square. The square was packed with folks attending the Easter Market. There were loads of stalls selling crafts and foods. There was a stage set up. We stopped to watch a puppet show. The whole place was decorated for easter. Eggs and streamers hanging from the trees (in the south of Sweden they put colored feathers in the trees instead). The kids were walking with braided sticks with ribbons attached to the end. I later found out that these are traditional Easter “whips.” Apparently the tradition was that boys/men would go door to door and whip the girls/women and then pour water on them (this was supposed to make them healthy and younger) and then the girls/women would give them decorated eggs. At least that is the sense that I got from the puppet show and the explanation of the person at the front desk of the hotel.
At any rate, we were having a lot of fun in the square but we came back to unwind for a bit and then headed out to walk around a bit more and grab some dinner. We ate at this place that was in the grottos of one of the buildings in old town. Mostly the same fare as lunch but a very nice atmosphere. Jie-jie especially said it was like eating in a castle a long time ago.
Then it was back to the hotel. Tomorrow we’ll spend the day exploring on foot. This evening Jason is feeling a bit under the weather so he and the kids are all asleep. I am going to do some grading.