Once I'd split up with Jak, I flew into Prague and was picked up by a friend of a friend from church who I had never met before. Her name was Leah and she welcomed me into her home for a week. Whatta gal! After a lovely night's sleep, this was the view from the window of her apartment.
(At this point, I didn't know to be extra, extra thankful for the blue sky.)
I felt ready to begin this last bit of my three month adventure.
Ran down the stairs to the street. Sorry if this made anyone dizzy. Ha.
One of Prague's beautiful parks.
Further into the city, I found the Powder Tower. In the past, they stored gunpowder in it, until they realized having so much flammable material so close to people and other buildings wasn't the best idea. I enjoyed this story a lot.
At this point in my trip, I realized my caffeine addiction was out of control. Without a minimum of two generous cups of coffee, I was practically a zombie. Here, I found a Stark Cappuccino and the world looked up after that.
I wandered through the old City Square and was enchanted by the smell of woodsmoke which drifted everywhere. Woodsmoke is one of my very favorite smells and always reminds me of God's love and constancy. It was just another way Prague felt like the perfect place to end.
The architecture was fascinating. There is a statue of John Huss to the left.
This astronomical clock does more than look pretty; it also works and has worked since 1410. Incredible, no?
Unsurprisingly, I didn't learn all this info without going on a tour. Here's our guide. Batman- er Ammon, from Utah. I keep joking he's a ex-Mormon, but that was unconfirmed. He found a great Czech girl to marry and seemed quite happy and I'm not sure either why I'm telling you this about him.
He showed us the music hall and told us about how the Czech people appreciate good theater and music.
I'm not sure what this means. I apologize if it's something untoward, but it sure looks pretty. For all it's written beauty, Czech is a complex language to learn, sometimes having up to twenty-five different ways to end a word depending on the context. I never even got the hang of please or thank you.
The Jewish Quarter, now a very luxurious and affluent part of town, was originally the place where Hitler had the Jews banned. He actually let the oldest active synagogue survive because he wanted to include it in a museum for an "extinct race".
Hearing that horrible statement made me thank God that man makes his plans, but God directs his paths*.
Erin and Vicki, this giant metronome is for you. There used to be one of the world's largest Joseph Stalin statue on that spot, but obviously, he didn't stay popular. Awhile after it was torn down, Michael Jackson played a concert nearby and everyone decided they would put up a huge, functional metronome. Great idea, no? I'm sure it helps the violinists who come to play in the park.
About one and half days into my stay, it started to grow cloudier.
This street performer is playing a didgeridoo. Although it only has a range of about two notes, it sure looks impressive.
Leah's friend had invited her to come and see a recital at the Rudolfinum, which is a music auditorium and home to the Czech Philharmonic. Excited, I got dressed up in the most dressy clothes I had (which still weren't very dressy).
We ran up the stairs and got our seats,
And I took a picture, even though it wasn't allowed. The performance was quite good, but I more enjoyed the high-class feeling and atmosphere of going to a recital.
Afterwards, we took a walk along the Vltava and got a lovely lit-up view of the St. Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
Later in the week, I took Leah's sushi recommendation and had a lovely ginger, horseradish, wasabi and soy sauce enhanced meal.
I also got to visit Leah's school where she teaches Science. I enjoyed spending time with her and her fabulous roommate Liz just as much as I enjoyed touring the city.
I also got a chance to help clean the school's new building. They are excited for a bigger facility, but it will take a bit of work over this summer before it's ready.
One night, we went to a smart little cafe called Cafe Louve and I got sipping chocolate. Basically, chocolate and whipping cream, thick and warm. Delish.
Wenceslas Square was this enormous street, full of shops and restaurants and various tourist booths.
Someone creating huge bubbles and that little kid at the bottom is great.
This is Wenceslas Square leading up to the National Gallery. I loved this street, partly because it also smelled like woodsmoke.
This is because the vendors selling ham and sausages cooked them over wood.
Yum. Rye bread and plenty of ketchup and mustard and hot juicy sausage hit the spot.
Some mornings in Prague were so rainy, I stayed in and drank coffee. It was a cozy, lovely feeling.
Other days, though I manage to venture out and one time, discovered this charming fellow peering at me.
The rain kept on and on. Prague was actually flooded by the time I left. I refuse to take the blame for the weather!
I nabbed a traditional doughnut, which is made by wrapping dough around a hot cylinder and sprinkling it with caramel sugar.
This is the view from the steps of Prague Castle.
And here's another view from across the Vltava. Thank you Prague, you were the absolute perfect ending to my adventure.
From there, it was over twenty hours of travel, being almost hysterically happy to be in Chicago because it was America, fitful naps and then getting a long-awaited hug from my mummy.