TRAVEL with pat and lew

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* Prague … old friends, new friends, castles, crystal and street basketball

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 13, 2012

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We were planning to go from Nuremberg to Warsaw. The map clearly shows Prague in between. And in Prague live our friends George and Marketa. George met us at the train station and led us to our hotel. Later we had drinks on George and Marketa’s terrace, enjoying the fabulous view, followed by an outstanding Italian dinner at one of their favorite places. Then a walk back to the hotel through the stunningly lit Wenceslas Square.


On Saturday, we enjoyed walking around Old Town Square, remembering our 2008 visit with my son Jon, our daughter-in-law Stacie & grandson Evan (then 22 months).

(For those Prague impressions, see …

We walked off the square to see the old synagogues, remarkably surviving both Hitler and the Soviets. We never got there. Out of a doorway we were passing popped a friendly young man with a beard and a yarmulka. We were invited in to a “new” synagogue organized by a Chabad group, and then to lunch with them at a nearby kosher restaurant.

Lunch was a remarkable experience. We met a young cantor who was that day announcing his engagement. Just as the food had been served, one end of our table collapsed. No problem. It was immediately re-set and replenished with more wonderful food. The singing and praying was loud, joyous, and delightful.

And, oh, we met Ed Fagen, about whom Pat had been reading just a few weeks earlier. Ed is involved in the recovery of art stolen during World War II, and he and Pat had much to discuss. Another new friend, who happens to live in Florida.


Prague is a beautiful city full of old buildings, castles, and churches. Also street basketball and brilliant crystal.


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* Prague – Oct 2008

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 28, 2008

Fri, Oct 3 … Barcelona on the way

We have an early flight on Saturday from Barcelona to Prague, so we’re going to go a day early and enjoy some time in Barcelona. We get up even earlier to watch the Biden-Palin debate, which comes on at 2:00 am here. But there’s no SlingBox. Our neighbor is not home, so we call our KW friend Paul. He’s out of town, but he knows the reason: the electricity in KW is out. Paul reminds us, however, that is carrying the debate live. Our internet in France is working, so we watch as Sarah Palin refuses to answer any questions.

We take the train to Perpignan and then to Barcelona. The trip takes almost 4 hours. We find our small hotel near the Ramblas and near the waterfront, and have a great lunch in a great location overlooking the harbor. We walk the length of the Ramblas to El Cortes Inglas, a major department store, where our goal is to identify lightweight sweepers, which they have. We take photos, so we can possibly have Batista, our store in Collioure, order one for us. NOTE: that works out and the sweeper is due in before we leave Collioure.

Sat, Oct 4

Taxi to airport, Iberia to Prague. We’re met by Ivan, who takes us to our apartment.

The apartment is very large (estimate about 2500 square feet), with outstanding furnishings, appliances, etc. However, there’s no lift. The lift was removed some months ago and has not been replaced. There’s also no WI-FI, promised on the web site from which we rented and confirmed in recent emails from the owner. Yvetta, the owner’s representative in Prague, tells us the internet was re-installed yesterday and should work. She calls a technician, but he will not come until Monday.

Pat and I take a walk through the old town square, which is only five minutes from our well located apartment. We follow narrow streets to a department store with an Albert’s food store underground. We buy the minimal supplies we will need for the next couple of days.

This is our first trip with a grandchild. Jon, Stacie and 22 month old Evan flew first to Dublin, stayed two nights, and are due into Prague at 8:10 pm, so they could be at the apartment by 9:00 pm. However, since I have no internet and no email, we have no way to communicate. Jon has the street address but the door at street level is locked. We go down to wait. Around 10:00, they arrive.

It’s very different travelling with a baby. Strollers, car seats, diaper bags, other bags, food, all kinds of stuff. No lift! We haul everything up to the third floor, and as soon as the door is opened, Evan is off like a shot, running around the large apartment, in and out of doors. It’s a great place for him.

Sun, Oct 5

Jon and Stacie sleep late, with Evan. Pat and I go to mass at Our Lady Before Tyn Church, built in 1365. Its two steeples soar over the town square, and the inside is equally impressive. So is the sweet voice of the nun singing in the row behind us.

Back at the apartment, Evan is now making noise, although his parents are still asleep or trying to be.  We offer to take him so Jon and Stacie can sleep. Our offer is accepted. We find Evan’s clothes and jacket, and off we go. Problem #1: the stroller, which we have to carry down the steps, won’t fit through a metal gate at the second level. There must be a way to collapse it, but it eludes me. I take off one of the wheels instead, and down we go.

Outside, we find Prague’s main attraction, the Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) a few blocks in another direction (our location is spectacular). Completed in 1399, the bridge connects the old town with the castle district. On a sunny Sunday morning, it is crowded and terrific. Evan enjoys the Dixieland band.

We return to the apartment where the parents change Evan’s diaper, feed him, and get ready for their first view of the city. Back to the Old Town Square.

Later that afternoon we attend an organ and flute concert it the St. Nicholas Church on the square.

Mon, Oct 6

We establish what will be our morning ritual: bundle Evan off to the internet café, which is also a bagel store with American breakfasts called the Bohemian Bagel. While I’m checking email, Pat walks with Evan, who is thrilled with the ongoing road construction and passing garbage trucks.

We arrive at the Old Town Square at the finish of an 11,000 mile, 49 nation World Harmony Run. Olympian Carl Lewis led the runners into the square.

That afternoon, we all go off for a tour of Prague’s five synagogues, which are more museums now than places of worship. But the timing doesn’t work for Pat and me. We return to the apartment to wait for the internet tech, who is supposed to come after 4:00 pm. The time slips, and Roman arrives at 6:30. He seems completely competent, but it turns out there’s nothing he can do, since only the phone was turned on the prior Friday, not the internet. We will thus have no internet for the entire week.

When the kids return, we play on the floor with Evan. We offer to babysit so Jon and Stacie can go out for dinner, which they do. Evan is fine when they leave, and continues to be fine until we want to put him to sleep. Eventually, just a few minutes before Jon and Stacie return, we prevail.

Tue, Oct 7

We go for a long walk the wrong way looking for Wenceclas Square, which is actually a boulevard. It is the site of the massive protests during the Velvet Revolution of 1989 which led to the falling apart of the Soviet Union. For us, there’s not much of interest, except the great hot dogs. Well, they started out great, but not everybody finished.

We have an early dinner together at an otherwise empty Irish pub. The onion rings are superb. Evan seems to have quite an eye for the waitresses.

Wed, Oct 8

We repeat our internet café routine. Later, we all go across the Charles Bridge, then down along river, where we find an outdoor bar and sit in the sun with a beer. We meet a couple from California who share our political leanings and a gentleman from Germany who does also.

The Spanish Synagogue, built in the 1860s, is nondescript from the outside and spectacular inside. It, along with other synagogues in Prague, survived WWII only because the Nazis preserved them to be a museum for a people who no longer existed. How exquisite and moving then, to participate in Kol Nidre Services at this synagogue, overflowing with 250 very much living Jews. Evan pretty much sleeps through the service; when he awakens, I take him outside for a walk, He inspects every one of the concrete abutments which have been placed to deter the new enemies of the Jewish people.

Pat arrives just as services are ending and we all eat at the typical Prague restaurant across from the synagogue.

Thur, Oct 9

We add to our internet walk with a much longer walk to the train station to get tickets for our Saturday trip to Vienna. On the way, we see the outside of the beautiful Jerusalem synagogue.

We sit in an outdoor café on the main square, looking at the great old buildings and the people, drinking a tall delicious hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Another time, we enjoy the great Czech beer.

Across the square, the ancient astronomical clock (parts of which date from 1410) does its dance every hour on the hour, attracting crowds each time. It shows the movement of the sun and the moon, the signs of the zodiac, scenes depicting the 12 months of the year, the 12 Apostles, Death ringing the death knell, allegories of greed and vanity, and, oh yes, the time.

Fri, Oct 10

Pat and I have Evan for most of the day, recognizing that it may be a long time, if ever, before we again have an opportunity to interact with a two year old. He is terrific, running across the town square, chasing in and out of telephone booths, finding something to play with everywhere he looks. Evan gets excited whenever the “horsies” come by pulling carriages. When the plaza is relatively empty (no vehicles, few people), we let him run free. Hair and jacket flying, he loves it. So do we.

We take Evan on a train ride up the mountain to the Imperial Castle. Before we go, we lift him up to ring the bell of the train. He sits and stands quietly for an entire hour, watching the view and the people.

In between everything else, we continue to enjoy the parts of Old Town Prague with which we have become familiar and to which we return again and again.

Sat, Oct 11

We bid Jon and Stacie, and the sleeping Evan, adieu, taxi to the train station, but McDonald’s hamburgers while we wait, then board for the 4 hour ride to Vienna.

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