Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Germany Trip Part 8 - Prague, the Last Day

On our final day in Prague we hit up 2 more of my favorite spots from my last trip to the city - the Jewish Quarter and the Klementinum.  The Jewish Quarter, or Jewish Ghetto, dates back to the 13th century when all of the Jews were forced to live in a small sectioned off area of the city.  It's had many incarnations over the years, but it was once the largest Jewish Ghetto in Europe and the lingering bits of history are found in the 6 remaining synagogues and the ancient Jewish cemetery.  The Old-New Synagogue of Prague is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe.  One of the synagogues has been updated into a holocaust memorial, another a Jewish museum. 

The cemetery of the Jewish Quarter is unreal.  The plot of land for the cemetery isn't very large, but there are over 12,000 tombstones and an estimated 100,000 Jews buried here.  Since the Jews were unable to bury their people outside of the Quarter, they instead built upon the cemetery, which is approximately 12 layers deep.  A number of famous Jews are buried here as well, including Rabbi Loew, whom is famous for the creation of the legend of the Golem, a creature made of clay to protect the Jews of the Prague Ghetto from antisemitic attacks.

After the Jewish Quarter, we got lunch (S was craving a taste of home, so we got some hamburgers) and then walked over to the Klementinum, which is part of the largest and most historic complex of buildings in the Old Town.  It is known for it's Chapel of Mirrors, Baroque Library, and Astronomical Tower.  The chapel was stunning and home to two 18th Century organs, one of which was known for being played by Mozart when he was in town.  The library is absolutely gorgeous, filled with over 20,000 books dating back to the 16th Century and lined down the center with antique globes.

The pièce de résistance, though was the Astronomical Tower.  In addition to the old scientific instruments that grace it's displays on levels along the 172 step spiral staircase to the top, the tower provides perhaps the best view in the city.

After all two weeks of walking, K was pretty exhausted at this point and so she headed back to the hotel while S and I decided to walk along the river into the less touristy area of town and then meander back through random side streets to explore the little known nooks of the city.  Along the way I was able to point out to him the Dancing House (also known as Fred and Ginger) and we happened upon a stunning guilded concert hall.

After a quick meal and some deliciouis Czech pastries for desert, S and I also called it a day and headed back to the hotel to pack up all of our stuff and get ready for our flight back home early the next day.  Our incredible trip to Germany, Austria, and Prague was complete!

Our trip home wasn't without hiccups, though.  We had a quick layover in Munich and then another in Toronto.  Unfortunately the Toronto stop wasn't quick - our flight got cancelled due to the pilot ordering the wrong amount of fuel for the plane and a fuel leak resulted and we were stuck in the airport for hours.  I'm honestly glad I didn't wind up having him for a pilot in the end.  The airline put us up in a hotel for the night and we had a super early flight out the next day, for which we had to go back through security, get charged overweight baggage fees, and then go through customs a second time (we'd already been through once the night before).  It wasn't the best way to end the trip, but we finally made it home and were never so thankful to sleep in our own bed!  Despite this rather unfortunate turn of events, it still wasn't enough to mar the how incredible the vacation had been!  Our memories of those two weeks is solely filled with the wonderful travels and moments we spent exploring.

I'm so glad I could share the memories of our journey here on the blog.  It was so fun to relive the adventures as I typed out each post and hunted through all of the pictures.  It was a fantastic vacation and I'm so excited that I had such enjoyable travel companions to share it with - and I'm especially thrilled to learn that S and I are very much travel-compatible!  Can't wait for our next adventure!

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