We arrived in Prague on Saturday, got dinner and drinks, and wandered around a bit. Sunday, we had pre-planned to take a day trip outside of the city to Kutna Hora. We took the train and arrived a 2 mile walk outside of the tourist area. Not realizing that we could have hopped on a bus, we instead walked into town.
Our first stop was the Royal Mint, where we learned a lot about the development of the czech currency. Being surrounded by precious metal mines, this city was once a massive center of politics and power. Not only was currency forged here, but it was also a royal residence, so there was a lot to learn about royal history, in particular during the time of the Hussite Wars. There was also a chapel which was filled with the most amazing Art Nouveau designs.
After our tour of the mint, we visited St Barbara’s Cathedral, which had some beautiful stained glass windows.
Lastly, we visited the Sedlec Ossuary, or the Bone Church. This was created as a memorial to those who died in the Plague; were there were so many bodies that would not fit in the graveyards, so their bones were used to create sculptures to decorate the church. We were not allowed to take any photos inside, as they too many problems with tourists taking selfies that were not respectful of the site. It was certainly macabre inside.
We had a lovely day as tourists in Kutna Hora, but then the week started. David was in the office working for the week, and I work east coast hours, which ends up being 2-10pm Prague time. This gives me the mornings to do some tourism in the city. I found two new places to visit on this trip. The first was the Convent of St Agnes, which is an off-site wing of the National Gallery of Prague housing medieval, predominantly Christian, art. It was AMAZING. I actually stumbled upon it one one of my morning walks, and only had about 2 hours to wander through, so I was rushing at the end – this is somewhere I will definitely return to next time. The second place was the Vysehrad, a hilltop fortress. Here, I visited the Basillica of St Peter and Paul, which was another cathedral FILLED with Art Nouveau paintings – almost no inch was unpainted.
The graveyard surrounding the cathedral was also incredible – it was filled with some amazing mosaics.
Next, I took a guided tour through the casements and the Gorlice Hall. These were the tunnels created for moving troops around the fort (which was never completed or used). The Gorlice Hall is the largest open area within the casements and currently houses a few of the original statues from the Charles Bridge (many of the statues on the bridge currently are replicas). I learned that the Gorlice Hall was actually created due to an error made by the designer/builder of the walls where the two ends of tunnels turned out not to meet. It was at one time used to store potatoes. As you walk through the tunnels, it really feels like you are going underground, but in reality you are inside a giant wall on the top of a hill overlooking Prague!
From Prague, we flew directly to Seattle. Once again, this was primarily a work trip for David, but as usual we made plans to visit with various people throughout the week. Also as usual we failed to take many photographs, but we had a lovely week seeing friends and family which was capped off with a gathering at Mark and Robin’s to celebrate Mark’s 70th!
We returned back to the boat feeling like we’d been gone for the better part of a month (which was true after including the Big Sky trip too). In the evenings of the last week of March, David was finally able to put together the rest of the engine and on Wednesday we were able to take our first test drive out away from the dock. We reminisced that our 4 month span in Baltimore was probably the longest amount of time that we had not done any kind of boat cruise since we first bought meridian-Highwind more than 6 years ago! Luckily we remembered how to do things :). David had to fix a quick leak in the exhaust system, but other than that, the engine seems to be working. We still have the fuel consumption issue, but we are at least back to where we were before our disastrous stay in Solomons. PROGRESS? You decide!