And so we come to Prague. I had no idea what to expect in the Czech Republic. But other than the language, which looked ridiculously hard to read & speak, it was pretty great. Of course, the money was different, Korunas, and everything was a bit on the pricey side - pricier than we thought. But we survived.
First we stayed in Prague for 3 nights. Despite being the most touristy (aka crowded) city that we stayed in during the entire trip, I really liked this city. For whatever reason, I thought that early October would have been less crowded, but no such luck. I guess Prague is always crowded.
We stayed in this amazing apartment, Residence Thunovska 19, which is located in the center of Prague (the Historic Lesser Town) at the bottom of the Prague castle stairs. The building was amazing. It's a Renaissance building built in 1527. The entry to our apartment had the original painted ceiling, exposed beams throughout, and amazing views of the city.
the view of Prague Castle & the castle stairs from our master bedroom.
How lovely are these beams?
Again, the beams. Our master room was so large. I love the built in closet in the corner. The other side of the room had a sitting area, another closet and another window. Basically a mirror image of this side. Just lovely.
The apartment suite was the perfect spot for us because we didn't have to use our car for 2 whole days. We just explored the city on foot - the kids were such troopers.
There is a toy museum in the historic Lesser Town, so we took the kids there. They loved it. Well, I take that back. Berlin loved it. Finley endured it.
Berlin loved this Barbie and wanted her picture taken with it. Later I noticed she was holding her hand. Awww - how sweet.
A BYU Barbie in Prague's Toy Museum? And, hands-down, the CREEPIEST Barbie ever! Ryan refused to look at it.
Ryan crushin' on the Spice Girls Barbies. Yes folks, Ryan and his High School buddies loved the Spice Girls back in the day.
My cute little guards. See how serious they are? They are doing a very good job protecting Golden Lane.
Oh how I love these guys.
Playing around with the artillery on Golden Lane.
Golden Lane. Note to others: wait until after 6pm and it's free. A nice waiter in the courtyard told us this so we waited and came back at 6pm. Go before then and you have to pay, which is totally ridiculous since it's like one block of tiny houses with little touristy shops inside. And there are TONS of tour groups that go thru it, so it's crowded during the day. Yep, free was just as good.
Finley was VERY scared of getting his picture taken with the guard. The bayonet rifles were kinda freakin' him out. I had to force him to stand next to Ryan (he was almost in tears). When it was all said and done he realized how un-scary it really was.
The changing of the guard.
The church on the Castle grounds.
The view of Prague from the Castle garden wall.
The view of St. Charles bridge from the castle wall. See all those people? Yep - crowded.
Just one of many times walking the Castle stairs. I actually grew to love doing this everyday. Especially in the morning and just before dusk. So pretty and quiet.
St. Charles bridge, tower gate, and statue. We took the bridge across to the other part town.
The bridge wasn't too crowded. I was glad we went first thing in the morning.
By the end of the day it was way worse.
Down at the bridge there are tons of places to take boat cruises along the river. We thought this would be fun for the kids so we found one just leaving and hopped aboard. We were practically the only ones on it.
What? A picture of me? GASP! How did that happen? I much prefer being behind the camera :)
View of the castle & church from the boat.
Prague has it's very own Eiffel Tower. On Petrin Hill they built this lookout/observation tower. We went all the way to the top...via the tiny 2-man elevator crammed with 6 people. Then walked down. Great views all around.
View of the Castle from the Petrin Tower.
On Petrin Hill there is the rose garden, playgrounds for the kids, walking paths, and a mirror labyrinth from 1891. We had to do the mirror labyrinth. After Lego-land, this was one of the biggest hits with the kids.
At the end of the labyrinth there were some distortion mirrors. The kids were laughing hysterically at each one. Here the kids have ape arms and Ryan and I have stilt legs. Finley says that this is the best family picture we've ever had. I think I might agree, or atleast say it's the funnest.
The third day we took a day-trip out of town which gave us a nice break from the touristy crowds. About and hour away in Kutna Hora where there's a church that the inside is decorated with items made of bones. Creepy but cool.
Outside of the bone church. Looks pretty normal huh. This is the stone path in front of the gate.
There are all sorts of stories behind this. One is that a monk went mad and starting building things out of skulls & bones. Another states that a blind monk compiled it as a way of organizing all the bones & skulls after some event. but whatever it was, or how it came about, it's eerie & creepy, but in a fun way. The kids loved it - especially Fin.
There is a HUGE chandelier and strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling. Totally impressive huh. Apparently it contains one of each bone in the human body. There's also a skull candelabra, swags & garland of bones everywhere, a case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by archaic weapons, urns, and even a signature picked out in finger bones.
One of 4 rooms piled from floor to ceiling in skulls & bones. These are the supposed piles made by the crazy/blind monk. The rest of the decoration (swags etc) were commissioned in 1870 by the Schwarzenberg Family who were the landowners at the time. It was apparently a reminder of the impermanence of human life and inescapable death.
This piece is amazing. It's the coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family, and has a section depicting a raven picking the eye from an invading soldier (lower right corner).
Gross! I mean really cool!
I wish this hadn't turned out so blurry. One of these days I will get a fancy digital Nikon that takes great low-light pics of kids who can't stand still. But back to the blurry photo ... Berlin thought it was Voldemort's skull with that stone snake slithering thru it. She's staring evil in the eye - brave girl.
I love the chubby cherub at the top of the skull tower. So odd.
The next day we left Prague and headed towards Czesky Krumlov - the Rothenburg ob der Tauber of the Czech Republic. Those pictures up next.