To celebrate the unofficial start of summer, I took a long weekend to visit Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The central Old Town is noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, excellently preserved for hundreds of years from the otherwise turbulent 20th Century in Czech politics. A local guide mentioned that in her grandmother’s lifetime, she was issued 8 different passports through 8 different “countries” and governments.
Now, Prague is a picturesque wonder with a photo around every corner. Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world, and dominates the skyline from atop the hill overlooking the city. The Astronomical Clock has several layers of coordinated machinery for the phases of the sun and moon, zodiac signs, ancient Czech timescale, and the modern 24-hour timescale – on a single clockface! The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the world outside of Jerusalem. Also in the Jewish Quarter is the ancient Jewish Cemetery, famous for its density of burials; when the cemetery could not expand horizontally, it expanded vertically, 10 layers in some places. The National Museum in Wenceslas Square (of Good King Wenceslas fame) is so grand that Soviet soldiers mistook it for the government building and fired upon it with machine guns. The Lennon Wall is a famous graffiti-covered section of wall that served as a speaking board for the peace, love, and free-thought ideals of John Lennon against the communist government.
And no trip to Prague would be complete without… beer! The Czech Republic has the highest per-capita beer consumption in the world, with about 160 liters/person/year for every man, woman, and child. Luckily for me, the Czech Beer Festival was running, giving me a chance to catch up to that 160L mark, including drinking the ORIGINAL Budweiser (which was much, much better than its American namesake)