Prague Castle and John Lennon

Prague Castle

It’s my last morning in Prague and I thought I should see the castle . The walled castle complex is ginormous and stretches along the whole top of that picture above (on the far right is the St. Nicholas cathedral, which isn’t part of the castle complex). Plus it’s on top of the tallest hill in a city of pretty impressive hills. Seemed like the proper way to end this trip.

But note the pretty blue skies from yesterday in the picture above and the grey leaden rainy skies from today. Boo.

St. Vitus Cathedral Prague

This is the back of St. Vitus Cathedral. I couldn’t get a decent picture of the front because of the size and scale of the building and proximity to other walls and buildings making it impossible to back up the required half mile to get the whole structure in the picture. Hereafter this is known as the Prague Photo Dilemma. I was also in danger of getting trampled by approximately 2000 tour groups all shrieking and milling about waving cameras and umbrellas.

The inside of St. Vitus is gorgeous and gothic and grandiose, all the G’s for which Prague is famous, but this picture is all you get because of the tour groups and my fear of death.

St. Vitus Cathedral

I fled to the much quieter, less grand but still gorgeous St. George’s Monastery where I wish I could have gotten closer to this little chapel with the beautiful ceiling.

St.George's Monastary

A few buildings over in the royal palace, this crown I wasn’t supposed to photograph seemed worthy of mention.

Wenceslas Crown Jewels Prague

Doesn’t it look like costume jewelry? I do not want to believe those stones are real.

And with that, I was castled out. It didn’t take long.

Weary cherub overlooking Prague

And so I found myself photographing this weary cherub, overcome with his view over rainy Prague when I noticed that all down the hill (mountain, let’s be honest) are terraced gardens that I didn’t know about  because my (admittedly terrible) guidebook decided to spend 4 pages on the St. Vitus Cathedral and about 2 lines on the 12 acres of grounds surrounding the cathedral.

They’re magnificent

Prague Castle Gardens

with such pretty little gazebos and quiet spaces

Prague Castle Gardens

And extremely steep stairs.

Prague Castle Gardens

Prague is not for the faint of heart or leg. And you’ll notice a complete lack of safety anything around these gardens. Another thing I love about Europe is their general assumption that I’ll take care of myself. Instead of massive barriers around edges and warning signs that spoil my view, Europeans are all “that unprotected bit over there with the 200ft drop? Do be careful or you could fall to your death. OK, off you go then!” I appreciate that vote of confidence.

And on that note, I exited the castle. I’d highly recommend those gardens.

I stopped for a fortifying pancake snack and a flat white at the local Starbucks. I really do enjoy seeing the way Starbucks offerings change from country to country. Why doesn’t every Starbucks offer pancakes?

Starbucks Prague

The last bit of my Prague experience was a search for the infamous John Lennon wall, a space co-opted by students in the 1980s to graffiti out their grievances against authority. Somewhere along the way a giant portrait of John Lennon was painted on the wall and this Czech student protest became known as “lennonism,” a play on “Leninism.”

John Lennon Wall Prague

I had a hard time finding this wall… which should come as no surprise. I should have just assumed someone would be playing Beatles songs and followed the music.

For years the authorities whitewashed this wall every month or so to get rid of the graffiti and then they just gave up and let the street artists have it.

john Lennon Wall Prague

Laska is love in Czech :)

Ok, I’m off to Italy. More tomorrow!

Grand Magnificent Prague

Prague's Old Town

I know Paris is older, but Prague feels older. If Paris is a lady, then Prague is her grandmother. She wears all her jewelry, even at breakfast, she’s weathered all the storms and cannot be bothered and she’s beyond impropriety. Prague is the Maggie Smith-esque Dowager Countess of Europe.


It’s just that everything in Prague is so old and so massive. I assume the words grand and magnificent and monumental were invented to describe Prague. I’ve never been in a prettier city that was so hard to photograph. The scale of these giant ornate boxy magnificent buildings are beyond the scope of my camera.


Every picture I take fails to show the weight and grandeur. It’s awe inspiring. How long did all this take to build? How many millions of people contributed? I can’t imagine.

I even climbed a tower to get some perspective.

Prague from above

This is the tower on the Mala Strana side of the Charles Bridge, looking towards Old Town across the Vltava river.  And the city doesn’t look so massive from here.

Obligatory czelfie in Czech land.

Prague czelfie

And afterwards I spent most of the day in the Jewish Quarter, a neighborhood they call Josefov.

Josefov Prague

I saw several synagogues in this neighborhood, for a change of pace in my churchy wanderings. I only went into one because they all charged admission. But I picked a really good one, the Spanish Synagogue.

Spanish synagogue Prague

Moorish-inspired, intricate and so detailed and incredible. It was a rather small space but the paintings and carvings were extraordinary. And in their archives of photos and memorabilia, I saw this star from WW2.

Spanish Synagogue PragueI wonder what would have happened if they’d said no. Forget it. We won’t wear them. What could Hitler have said. “wear it or we kill you?” And could that have been worse? I think ultimately it would have changed nothing but I do wonder.

This Josefov neighborhood dates back several centuries and Jewish people were buried in this cemetery for at least 300 years until the 19th century. They estimate over 100,000 people are buried in this small plot of land no larger than most people’s houses.

Jewish Cemetery Prague

On a lighter note, here’s the exterior of the most Dr. Seussical synagogue in all the land

Jubilee Synagogue Prague

Again with the massive buildings and the difficulty of shooting pictures, but you get an idea at least. Those colors are out of control!

Franz Kafka got a monument in the Josefov, right near where he used to live across from the Spanish Synagogue. It’s a cool alternative piece inspired by one of his stories. Even though it was installed 80 years after his death, I like to think he’d approve.

Kafka Monument Prague

I walked all the way down to New Town to get a picture this Gehry designed building. We’d driven past it on my way to the hotel and I really wanted to see it again

Dancing House Prague

It’s called Dancing House but here in Prague they just call it “Ginger and Fred.” Isn’t that fantastic?

And speaking of things that are fantastic, here are more bubbles!

Old Town Square Prague

I love these bubble guys. They always make me happy.

These Bohemian Bards were throwing down and that made me happy too.

Bohemian Bards Prague

Public squares are my favorite things about Europe. I love the buskers and performers all gravitating to this public space as well as all the music and food and general revelry.

Speaking of food, here’s a Czech delicacy called trdelnik (feel free to try to pronounce that. The shopkeeper laughed when I attempted it :)

Trdelnik Prague

The dough is rolled on metal rods, brushed with butter and cinnamon sugar and then baked over these open flames. They cut them in chunks and serve them as is or coated with chocolate inside.

Trdelnik Prague

Perfect midday snack with coffee.

I’ll leave you with the only bit of street art I’ve found here in Prague

Old Pepsi Cola Ad Prague

Not quite in the street art spirit but still beautiful.

One more morning in Prague. I’m hoping to storm the castle!

A Taste of Prague

Prague: Where hotel rooms have chandeliers

Boutique Hotel Constans Prague

You know. Casual.

And tourists fill every square inch of the city.

Gate to Mala Strana

So busy today! I think I saw more tourists today than I’ve seen anywhere else combined.

Also, apparently there was a hockey game? USA vs. Czech and the USA won! Which is only great when I’m not in Prague, trying to take pictures of a beautiful building that no one cares about because there’s a game! on! the! giant! TV!!!

Old Town Square

I couldn’t beat them, so I got a beer and a dog and joined them. Go USA! (sorry Czechs…)

Prague sausage

The time is fast approaching when sausages and beer will lose their appeal. I’m not there yet but I can see it in the distance. How do these Europeans live on a diet of bread, beer and sausages without dying of scurvy? I don’t get it.

I’ve been here only a couple of hours but my favorite thing in Prague so far is the Charles Bridge. It’s part of the old Royal Road, a procession route for newly crowned kings of Bohemia to travel to their castle. Here’s the view off the bridge into the Staré Město, Prague’s Old Town

Staré Město Charles Bridge

The bridge is lined with statues and joins the Old Town and the Mala Strana, the Lesser Town where the castle resides.

Charles Bridge

The sun sets directly over Mala Strana and shines through these gorgeous gates on either side of the bridge

Charles Bridge

So far, Prague is pretty cool. More tomorrow.

Charles Bridge