A Free Walking Tour of Prague with Nobleman Adam

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(Exceedingly steep escalator in the metro)

We’re just back from the free walking tour of Prague, three hours of information, pictures and craning our necks to look at beautiful buildings. It was excellent. I’ve forgotten a lot of the information. Here’s what I remember…

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(Powder Gate – old city wall gate, also used to store munitions)

Czechs invented sugar cubes! Yes, the story goes that all sugar came in sugar loaves (the Sugar Loaf mountain in Wicklow – it’s what sugar looked like…) and one day the wife of the sugar factory owner was cutting up the loaf of sugar and cut her hand. She was very annoyed and told her husband that he must do something about this problem. He loved his wife dearly and wanted to please her so he invented the sugar cube for her, and shared the idea with the rest of the world. They also invented Semtex – a plastic explosive…

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(The Astronomical Clock – it’s very very old and still working. It measures lots of things related to time including how many hours since the last sunset, you might be able to see above, 19 hours since sunset last night)

There have been lots of wars and protests and executions in Prague and in the Czech Republic. The first time a Republic was declared was after the first World War (I think it included Slovakia at the time) then there was a little problem with Hitler. Then the Russians (and Americans) saved them from the problem with Hitler and they were very grateful and were persuaded by the attractiveness of Communism. Thus ended the first republic. Then there was a student of philosophy, Jan Palach, in 1968 who protested against the lack of Czech protest against Communism and burned himself in Wenceslas Square. Then in 1989 they had the Velvet Revolution (named because the change was so smooth) when they split from Communism and the Velvet Divorce when they split from Slovakia. Before all that there was a long war between the Protestants and the Catholics, our guide, Adam, is related to one of the noblemen who were beheaded by the Catholics in 1620. He says he has blue blood but we were unable to verify this…

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(The old Jewish Cemetery, very crowded and the inspiration for the holocaust memorial in Berlin)

And almost finally, the Czech Good King Wenceslas was not a king but a Duke who was murdered by his brother (BAD King Wenceslas?) but he did become a saint after that. And, when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were landing on the moon in 1969 they were playing the music of Antonín Dvorák – he’s Czech.

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(Adam… and our money)

The tour also included some useful tips, like how much beer you should expect to get for 200Kč (Czech Crowns) – 7 beers and  for 100Kč – 3 beers. Adam needed some Czech notes to help with this demonstration. As we are very helpful people, both Denis and I gave him the notes, thus allowing him to demonstrate another tip – don’t give your money to strangers. Adam thought that was very funny…

Time for a coffee, Mairead.

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