Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Castle and Vintage Cars

Prague Castle dominates the skyline of this wonderful city.  What began as a walled building in the 9th century became the abode of the Bohemian kings and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic.  Prague Castle is also supposed to be the biggest castle in the world!  It took me about 30 minutes to walk up the pretty cobblestones streets from my hotel to the castle gates.  The walk to the castle was actually as much fun as touring the castle itself.

I was at the Four Seasons located right on the banks of River Vltava.  The skies were clouded and the day was a little cold but the rains had stopped.  The weather had kept most of the tourists indoors, so the ancients streets and the imposing Charles Bridge seemed much more larger today.

Charles Bridge is a famous historic bridge which was constructed in the 14th century and was the only crossing over the Vltava for a hundred years.  Protected by Gothic bridge towers, the bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues of saints.

The streets to the castle are quaint and pretty.  Small cafes and antique shops line the winding streets. There are several interesting monuments in the Baroque style as you pass through Little Quarter. After a final steeper climb you are suddenly in front of the castle gates.

St. Vitus Cathedral is the first imposing ancient structure within.  The cathedral is remarkable for the soaring height of its vault and the intricate Gothic work. There are superb examples of Czech stained glass windows and saintly relics.

I did not have the time to tour the several museums in the Castle.  I turned into the Golden Lane, so called because of the many goldsmiths who lived here during the 17th century. One side of the street is lined with tiny, brightly painted houses which were built right into the arches of the castle walls.  Incidentally, Franz Kafka stayed at No.22 house here for a while.

I passed through the prison with its scary dungeons and instruments of torture before coming out of the other end where the entire city of Prague was laid out below like a pretty picture post-card.

On the next day, we were taken to our dining destination in a vintage motorcade.  We had a lot of fun going through the streets of Old Town, Jewish Quarters and Little Quarter.

We finally reached the Augustine hotel for what turned out to be an unique experience.  The hotel contains several buildings of historic importance, such as the 13th century Augustinian St. Thomas Monastery.  The St. Thomas Brewery Bar is housed in the cellar of the Monastery complete with real stalactites and stalagmites, where monks once brewed their beer.

Tonight we were doing a beer tasting along with our dinner.  We were given a taste of three types of beer and a lesson in 'gravity'!  We began with lighter beers with gravity of 11 degrees and moved up to darker beers at 13 degrees by the time we ended the tasting session.

We started with a traditional potato soup with wild mushrooms and marjoram.  The soup felt welcome and hearty given the cold weather we had come from.

The main course was a beef goulash with potato dumplings and crispy onions.  This was a simple but effective dish that worked well.

The dessert was a seasonal crumble cake with cottage cheese followed by coffee and petit fours. By the time we got done, it was quite late and I was ready to hit the bed without diverting to the hotel bar.


Renuka said...

Amazing! just loved the description

Aditya said...

Sir, waiting for your call!!! Regards,
Elite Magazine