A deluge descended on Prague just as we ducked into the Baroque Clam-Gallas Palace to see a private collection of 19th century Czech, Austrian and German art. A horde of tourists piled into the courtyard to wait the rain out, and not one bothered to come up and see the art. This has been my experience in Prague overall. Crowds outside, deserted galleries.
While in Prague, we have not found any interesting, non-touristy puppet shows to go to - our stay was short and none of Laurie’s teachers or favorite bands and troupes were putting on performances. Prague Fringe was on, and we had attended two shows. One was about Edith Piaf, and the other was a music hall send up of the Victorian era. Yet despite the fantastic concepts, both shows have been kind of a let down. However, our last show on our last day was, ironically, by a NY theater company - an adults-only play about the possible love affair between Federico Garcia Lorca and Salvador Dali. My hopes were high, and I was not disappointed. Good lord.
And with that, on to Vienna…
I was already excited to see the Old Jewish Cemetery, but the entire Jewish Quarter exceeded my expectations. The grave of Rabbi Loew, the Ceremonial Hall with all it’s mortuary history, the breathtaking Spanish synagogue…
After that, we wandered around Wenceslas Square, had lunch and saw some AMAZING Gothic Czech dancing and sword fighting. Then we walked to Střelecký Island and took a bit of a breather under the chestnuts, before making it back across the Vltava to climb to the top of the Bridge Tower as the sun set over Prague.
The Medieval Torture Museum was a bit of self-indulgent tourist nonsense (as was the Alchemists’ Museum and the Museum if Prague Ghosts and Legends), but still really fun. Especially because it looks less like a museum and more like just someone’s apartment chock full of torture device replicas. I hope they rent them out to BDSM dungeons after hours.
We also happened upon a wonderful little vintage store full of treasures. It took some serious self control not to walk out having spent all my vacation money on a beaded Czech folk cap from the 19th century, or an arsenal of frock coats and top hats. But we did find a wonderful fur scarf, a brooch from the 1930s, half-leather gloves and a mysterious tasseled belt that looks like something from the folk costumes depicted in the Slav Epic.
Prague, don’t ever let me go.
We had the most adorable lunch at St. Wenceslas Cafe on Wenceslas Square today. I had the worst crush on Wenceslas, and he totally knew it. Laurie’s lunch came impaled in a sword! Seriously, bless the Czech people.
More lovely things from our first day. Puppets I fell in love with in various shops in the Prague Castle district, gorgeous door of an embassy (I forget which), and a lovely boy whose crown jewels tourists love to polish. I also discovered trdelník, which I plan to eat every day of our stay here. And we ran into my favorite statues of Rabbi Loew and his Golem - my favorite Prague legend.
We arrived in Prague on a bus from Berlin early this morning. I don’t know if it’s the lack of sleep or the heart wrenching beauty of the city, but I spent the entire day laughing, crying or doing both at the same time. I burst into tears on Charles Bridge, in the street behind the Palace, upon entering St. Francis Church and in front of the Astronomical Clock. I want to and will move to this city.
My latest obsession - the story of the Golem of Prague. I know precious little of Jewish folklore and mysticism, but this wonderful tale combines everything I love - the beauty of Prague, elements of Frankenstein and his monster, history and religious lore.