Friday, January 9, 2009

Prague, Day 2

Word is that Prague isn’t known for the quality of its restaurants. Even the good ones, so we’ve read, serve food to go with Czech beer rather than the other way around. But, Café Louvre is quite good and very, very affordable (no swindlers). After dinner we’re both really tired. Rather than head out for adventure, we head back to the pension and call it an early night. We fall asleep watching the Daily Show online and notice something interesting about the news over here. The only English-speaking channel we get is CNN, but it’s not the CNN we get in the U.S., the CNN that Jon Stewart relentlessly (and deservingly) ridicules and parodies night after night. This is the British CNN and it is surprising to see big media taking a sympathetic position regarding the Palestinians. Hamas and the Palestinians are not referred to as terrorists and the journalists are very forthcoming about the aggression on behalf of the Israeli military and the perfidiousness of Israeli officials, especially in light of the killing of U.N. aid workers by Israeli fire on Wednesday. To be fair, we don’t know what U.S. T.V. media have to say about the current crisis, but Palestinian sympathy tends, in the U.S., only to appear at journalistic margins on programs like Democracy Now.

We’re up by 8:30 and have a leisurely breakfast. By the time we get out the door it has begun to snow. Our first stop is the Cubist Museum again. Not because it was so marvelous, but because we think we left our Prague Encounters travel book behind yesterday. We did; we find it sitting on the reception counter right where we left it, and it appears that someone arranged it on the counter just so, such that it looks like it belongs there. We recover it, and have a laugh with the woman behind the counter. We weave out of the Staré Mêsto and make our way to the Nové Mêsto to visit the National Museum. We had been referring to the National Museum as the National Gallery (though it seems that there is in fact a National Gallery somewhere), and are a little disappointed to discover a natural, national, and regional history museum, but we go in anyway. The building is “neo-Renaissance” in style and dates back to 1891. The exhibits are not entirely to our taste (mineralogy, paleontology, among other ologies), but the history wing was really cool and much of the information was translated into English. We watch Hitler march into Prague, one scene shot from the steps of the National Museum, a picture that Zach had taken only moments before.

From the National Museum we head out in search of some traditional Czech fare for lunch and we find it on a residential block in the Vinohrady district. Zach had attempted the day before to not eat meat and cheese. He didn’t succeed, but was satisfied at the attempt. Today Zach decides that in order to have a true Czech dining experience he must be uninhibited in his approach to Czech food, and that when we get back to Germany he can be more discerning in his food choices. So we have fried cheese with fried potato pancakes, and a traditional beef dish smothered in gravy, cream and cranberry sauce with sliced bread dumplings. After lunch we head back to the pension for a nap. Although we got to the Vinohrady on foot, we take the subway back. Before heading up we stop at the cash machine for what is hopefully our last ATM withdrawal in Prague. We were told of how inexpensive Prague is, but realize that that hasn’t been our experience here. Our pension is cheap, but even of we forget the swindlers at the restaurant near the castle, we’re spending a fair number of crowns.

As we climb into the elevator, Zach realizes that he is beginning to miss Berlin, and Danielle is getting a sore throat. We enjoy Prague very much, but haven’t settled in the way we did almost upon arrival in Berlin. Tonight we plan to head back into the Old Town Square, perhaps to U Zlatého Tygra (“Golden Tiger”) for some Absinthe and adventure.

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