Part of our trip to Czechia is in Germany, as we stopped on the way.
Our first stop was at the Charlottehofer Nature Reserve, a pond area (a residue of an older pond area). It is a shelter for many bird species, although we mainly met with stunning vegetation, which was, however, worth a stop.
Nabburg was another possible stop instead of the pond area, as it is so close from the highway. As we passed by, resuming from the previous stop which was the one that had been finally selected, everybody wowed at the sight of the nice looking city. We thus finally decided to stop there too.
Now we are in the Czech Republic at last, in Plzeň, or Pilsen in English, home to a famous beer and to the second largest synagogue in Europe (after Budapest). The hope for Guille and Julio was to arrive by 16h00 to see the Basket final of the Olympic game, which Spain finally lost 100 to 107 against United States (no bar seemed to be interested in that event; I got informed of the score by our friend Vase through sms).
At last, Prague (Praha in Czech), our main destination. And rightly so. It is the sort of beautiful places that make you see the whole world differently again. Even if you know beforehand that it is stunning, it still takes you aback when you reach the Old Town Square. The most surprising to me was the famous astronomical clock. Since infancy, I had pictured it highly perched at the very top of a slender tower. What a sensation to discover it, at the height it had always been, for centuries before it even start to exist in my mind, almost on the floor. What a sensation to be standing in front of this jewel of art, time and technology.
We had a whole day which was spent along a rather traditional route, I believe. From there we took the famous Charles bridge, strolling back and forth among the statues, went to the castle of Prague, visited the cathedral, also a gripping sight, went to the Jewish Quarter (Josefov), then along the river, played with the dancing house and came back to where we started, the old square, through the other side of the river.
The cathedral has nice stained glass artwork, particularly that from Mucha, familiar and unsettling at the same time as combining his characteristic art-nouveau portraits with the stained glass iconography that is everything but the smooth, Boticelli-like delicate drawing he couched on the glass. The light effects were splendid, but sadly difficult to capture with the camera. His window allegedly compiles a thousand years of national Czech history .
After the cathedral, we visited a Restaurace, the most insignificant looking we could find in an attempt to taste something a local would get. That attempt was successful (the evening one less so). The food was excellent, particularly for the price. Inma had the roasted pork knuckle and Elena the duck, that you will see on the photos below. Julio had a Strogonoff, Guille some chicken skewers while I had a Goulash. With drinks and coffee, it all came to around 1500Kč, i.e., about 12€ per person.
We stopped by Karlovy Vary, which is a nice little Spa town. However, coming from Prague, it suffered from an unfair competition, and we decided to carry on and to stop in a small village instead.
The place we stopped was completely random, it turned out to be Sokolov. The place was nice, we had another copious meal even cheaper than Prague for no less quantity nor quality (1000Kč), it had a lot of local activity, with a free concert of popular music on the square. We also visited a lake (Michal) with various activities (including two gigantic sliders) charging a minimal fee and, beyond being much fun, was also quite illustrative of the quality of life of Czech people.