WANDERING AROUND PRAGUE
We caught the 4 hour bus from Bratislava in Slovakia to Prague without a hitch and checked ourselves into another mini apartment compete with a kitchen, lounge and bedroom, which oddly enough only had bunk beds in, and called it a night.
After a lazy start to the day we caught the 207 bus into town and watched Prague unfold before us through the window. Colourful pink, yellow and mint green buildings, with the turrets of Gothic churches and castles poking through the skyline against the backdrop of an autumnal tree line, where the green, brown and red leaves reflected off the wide river. Much prettier, we felt, than the makeup of recently visited Budapest.
View of the Charles Bridge in Prague
Prague Old Town
Prettier than Budapest, even with some crude weeing statues taking a leak for all to see!
Weeing statues in Prague!
We mooched across the Charles Bridge, taking in all the religious statues and sculptures and side stepped the inevitable and painfully spatially unaware guided tour groups, and enjoyed the mix of artists making their living from paintings, sketches and musical solos.
Just as we’d stepped off the bridge, a sign caught our eye advertising a 60 minute concert in St Paul’s Cathedral that promised pieces such as the Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Ava Maria, Mozart and several others that both Kate and I knew. We were mulling it over to ourselves, feeling guilty that we’d been doing a lot of drinking and eating but not too many cultural activities – well, other than walking around the various cities we’d visited – when the ticket man started his sales spiel on us. “Just 20 Euros”, he said and that he would give us a student discount even though we weren’t students. He went on to provide an overview of the symphony orchestra and rattled off the pieces from the board. We signed ourselves up, parted with the cash and received two tickets for the performance the following evening.
Home made or legit?
30 metres down the road I turned back around and reflected on the whole exchange. The cathedral the guy was standing outside looked like it was under construction. The location was where hundreds of tourists were streaming off the iconic Charles Bridge. The sign was professional looking, but it was essentially just a wooden foldaway ‘A-frame’ billboard and the tickets could have been knocked up on a home computer with some gloss printing paper.
I turned to Kate and questioned whether we’d just been fleeced of 40 Euros and I was told to stop being so cynical, but she agreed that it would have been the perfect scam. A line of people queuing outside a derelict church for a non existent concert whilst the ticket man laughed his way to the bank!
CZECH BEER MUSEUM – TASTING EXPERIENCE
Although we had the official Czech beer museum “Tasting Experience” planned in (my Birthday present from Kate), we decided to do our own supermarket budget version to warm up our taste buds the night before.
Budget Beer Tasting in Prague
We had opted for the Czech Beer Museum out of the numerous beer tasting experience options/ tours available in Prague, as we could rock up with no prior booking, walk ourselves around at our own pace and complete it all, including drinking four beers, within about 2 hours.
The Czech Beer Museum took us on a tour of beer production throughout the ages finishing up with a somewhat interactive model of a brewery. I spent some time trying to work out how many of the “Wall of Beers” that I’d tried in my time and enjoyed the random stats that filled up the museum walls.
Wall of beer at the Czech Beer Museum, Prague
Summary? Best to be on minimum wage in Belgium!
The museum ended downstairs in a little microbrewery where we were given 4 beers, light to dark, and some tasting notes to work our way through. Even the beer tasting area had a museum feel to it with various information cards dotted around. For example, it was commonplace in communist times to receive a pint of dregs that had been rounded up by the glass collector. Yummy!
A MR BEAN MUSICAL
We headed back to St Paul’s Cathedral, excited for our concert, and a long queue hugging the side of the building indicated that either we hadn’t been scammed, or, that a lot of people had 🙂
Luckily we, and the rest of the queue, hadn’t been conned and we quietly filed in, taking in the art work on the high ceilings whilst we jostled for a seat near the front.
Musicians warming up in St Paul’s Cathedral, Prague
The quartet played beautifully for the hour, with fantastic renditions of the classics we’d been promised by the conman salesman. They started with Mozart, onto Handel, with the Soprano singer joining the stage for a neck tingling version of Schubert’s, Ava Maria, before finishing up on The Four Seasons (Spring and Summer) by good ol’ Vivaldi.
But don’t get me wrong – I am not a classical music buff at all. There were several pieces played in between by some Czech composers that I’d never heard before and found myself like a pained Mr Bean in places. Raising my hands to clap, believing it was the end of the piece and then realising, just as I was about to thrash out a heavy and loud clap, (that would have echoed all around the stone silence of the cathedral) that the musical was just in a crescendo! I had to quickly fake a yawn or head scratch to give purpose to my flailing, near clapping hands as the music suddenly bounced along again! Talk about faking trying to be cultured!
Next stop – Krakow in Poland!