Europe’s Rivers & Castles on the AmaWaterways Amalegro - Part 4

8/20/11 to 9/4/11

 

Page 1 -  Pre-cruise in Paris, France

Page 2  - Luxembourg; The Ship; Trier, Germany; Bernkastel, Germany

Page 3  -  Cochem, Germany; Koblenz, Germany; Rudesheim, Germany; Mainz, Germany; Heidelberg, Germany; Miltenberg, Germany; Wertheim, Germany;

Page 4  -  Wurzburg, Germany; Rothenburg, Germany; Bamberg, Germany; Nuremberg, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic

 

Wurzburg to Rothenburg

This was going to be a very busy day.  We had a morning tour in Wurzburg and then would be visiting Rothenburg in the afternoon.  The Rothenburg tour was optional; as was another short bike ride around Wurzburg.  It was supposed to be a much shorter bike ride than the first one.

We got on the bus and met our tour guide Karl.  He was going to take us to the main attraction in Wurzburg, the Residenz Palace.  We had read that it was a “must see” place; and oh was it ever.  Napoleon called it the “nicest parsonage in Europe.”  The outside of the palace was nicely decorated; but didn’t compare to the inside.  Unfortunately photography of any kind is not permitted inside.  I was so disappointed.  Some of the rooms in this palace were better than the ones in Versailles.

    

I had to settle for taking photos of the exterior and gardens. 

   

After the tour of the palace, some of the group continued on for a city tour of Wurzburg.  I wished I had time to see the rest of what appeared to be a lovely city; but we needed to get back to the ship in time to go on the tour to Rothenburg.  On our way out of town we got a nice view of the Fortress Marienberg sitting high up on the hill overlooking the city.

 

After a quick lunch, we boarded a bus to take us to Rothenburg, which is proclaimed by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Germany.   It is the only walled German city with no modern buildings.  Most of them were built around 1400.  Our tour guide for this excursion was Heinrich.  He was very informative and a nice guy.  He told us to call him Henry, because it was easier for us to say.

 

We stopped inside the massive wall surrounding the city.  Henry pointed out that we could climb up the wall at certain points and walk around the whole city.  I thought about it, but the path was very narrow and I thought I would enjoy staying on ground level more.  I was impressed with the multi-windowed roof on one of the first buildings we came to.

    

We were surprised at how empty the narrow streets were.  We saw some nice buildings, but to me it wasn’t any better than many of the other lovely cities we had already seen on the trip. 

   

We stopped at a pastry shop and Henry pointed out some round treats that are called “pastry snowballs.”  They looked good; but when I tried one later in the day, I only took a couple of bites.  I didn’t care much for it, nor did some of the other folks I talked to from the boat.

 

As we got closer to town, things started to look up.  The buildings were more of the style I had been expecting and there were lots of flowers around.  It was a very pretty town; but it was also very commercialized.

    

   

The main square of Rothenberg is at the lovely City Hall.  The square itself is quite large.  I was impressed with a large fountain at one end of it.

   

   

One of the big attractions in Rothenburg is the Kathie Wohlfahrt Christmas Store and Museum.  I planned to come back later to check it out.  I really loved the signage in these quaint German towns.  They were so creative and pretty.

    

As we continued our tour, we passed by the largest church in the city, St. Jacobs Church.  We didn’t go inside, but I came back after the tour to see the interior.

 

Our walk continued to one of the tower gates.  An interesting feature of the gate was what Henry called the “needle eye.” It was a small door inside the big door.  After sunset the big door would be closed and not opened again until morning.  The guards could let someone in through the “needle eye” if needed.  But they would have to leave their personal belongings and method of transportation they were using on the outside.   It was a very small door that would only allow one person at a time to squeeze through without a weapon.  This type door is believed to be where the statement came from that says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God".  I don’t know if this type door is where it came from; but there was certainly no way a camel could get through that door.

   

     

On the outside of the gate, was a panoramic view of the city and valley below.  It was a popular photo stop.

    

When the tour was almost over, I decided to go back and check out the interior of St. Jacobs Church.  After some previous disappointments, I was not expecting much because Gothic churches aren’t my favorites.  This church had a very high ceiling and was very narrow.   My eyes were immediately drawn to the beautiful stained glass windows and carved wooden Twelve Apostles Altar.  It was just splendid.  The church was a real treat after all.

      

I left the church and continued my walk enjoying the well preserved medieval town.  My destination was the Little Square.  It is a place that is shown on many of the Rothenburg post cards. 

 

I ran into one of the couples on our cruise and they were raving about a bratwurst sausage they had at a shop nearby.  They told me that I had to try one, since it was the best they ever had.  I felt obligated to try one.  I did and it was quite good.  What I thought was particularly interesting at that sausage shop, was a box of small sausages made to look like a box of cigars.

 

I had been walking too long and needed to get back to the main square where I was going to meet Carol.  On the way there I ran into Max and Ray sitting at a restaurant having a beer.  Once again I had to be sociable, so I sat down and had one too.  After I finished the beer they told me where they had seen Carol, so I went that way.  I found her and caught up on what we had been doing.  I told her I was going to the Christmas store; but since she had already spent a lot of time there, I went on my own.

As I walked in, the shop keeper asked me if I wanted to see the museum.  Because I had one of the Vox devices from the Amalegro in my pocket, they gave me a free token to get into the museum.  Henry had mentioned this during the walking tour, but I hadn’t planned on going to it.  I decided to check it out since I had some extra time before we would have to go to the bus for our return trip to the boat.  It was nicer than I expected, with some interesting displays.  But to really appreciate it I would have needed to spend a lot more time there and read what was on the displays.

    

Upon leaving the museum, I came into the second level of the store.  It was quite impressive.  It was decorated like a small village in winter.  There were Christmas trees and decorations all over the place. 

    

They also had a huge selection of beer steins.

 

After leaving the Christmas store, I decided to walk to some sections of town that I hadn’t yet visited.  I saw an interesting gutter drain.

 

I also came to another of the massive gates in a different part of town.

   

On the way back to the square, I saw bubbles floating in the air.  When I got closer, I could see that there was a mechanized teddy bear blowing bubbles above the teddy bear store.  It was a clever way to attract customers.

   

Finally it was time to go back to the bus to go to the small town of Kitzingen, where the Amalegro was supposed to be docking at 7:00 PM to pick us up.  We got to the dock fifteen minutes early and hoped that the Amalegro would be early also, but it wasn’t there.  I decided to walk around and check out the very nice dock area.  Many people were sitting around just enjoying the tranquility.  It was really peaceful.  I moved down closer to the bridge, so that I could get a photo of the boat when it came through. 

 

While waiting, I struck up a conversation with a local couple that came down to this area regularly at the end of their day.  The husband was able to speak English.  He was telling me about the area and I told him about the Amalegro.   I was really enjoying the down time; but was also anxious about when the boat would finally arrive.  It kept getting later and darker and colder, so I was starting to worry.  One of the guides heard from the boat that they had gotten stuck behind a freighter in a lock and would be there soon.  At 7:45PM it finally arrived, 45 minutes late.

 

The boat being late was kind of a problem, since there was a 9:00 PM excursion scheduled to have a wine tasting in Germany’s oldest wine cellar.  Since dinner had started at 7:30 PM, we dropped off some things in the room and headed straight to the dining room.

At 9:00 PM those that were going to the wine tasting met outside the boat where the town mayor was welcoming us to his town.  The Amalegro was the first river boat that had docked in this town in many years, so they were glad to have us.                      

 

After the welcome everyone followed the mayor to the wine cellar.  We passed through the town’s virtually empty downtown area.  Empty that is except for the large crowd walking from the Amalegro.

    

 After a pretty good walk we finally arrived at the building where the cellar was located.  Each person was handed a glass of champagne and directed to the 700 year old wine cellar.

 

It was rather nice to be going into the ancient cellar between wine kegs illuminated with candles in Franconian wine bottles.  Henry had told us earlier in the day that wine from the Franconia region of Germany is usually all bottled in the same shaped bottle. 

 

Everyone sat down at long tables while a delightful young lady talked to us about each of the wines.  She was very entertaining.

    

Since I don’t drink wine that much and haven’t developed a taste for finer wines, I don’t know if a wine is good or not.  Either I enjoy drinking it or I don’t.  A lady from our group sitting across from me told me that the wine was not that good and she couldn’t even drink it.  She did seem to be in the minority though, since it seemed that most people were enjoying the samples.

We didn’t leave the cellar until 10:45 PM and I was ready to hit the sack.  It had been a very full day.  Once again I was pretty much exhausted; but I was also looking forward to tomorrow with mixed feelings because it would be our last full day on the boat.   The cruise was almost over.

 

Bamberg, Germany

Our last full day on the Amalegro was much more leisurely than the previous six days.  We would be cruising toward Bamberg until the city tour that was scheduled for 2:30 PM.  This would give the guests time to pack for the next day’s disembarkation and then relax a little. 

During the morning cruise, I went to the upper deck to enjoy the scenery.  As had been the case for much of the cruise, the back part of the deck was closed since we would be going under low bridges.  All the chairs and covers were tied down on the deck.  There was plenty of room on the front where I preferred sitting.  One of the things I had found amusing on our Danube cruise was that when the top of the wheel house was lowered to go under a very low bridge, the captain could only stick his head up through a hole in the top of the wheel house.  Sure enough while I was there, the captain lowered the wheel house for a low bridge.

    

There were a couple of events planned before lunch.  We were to have a Fruhschoppen, which is a second breakfast.  To me it was more like a first lunch, since it was at 11:00 AM.  There was also a guest lecturer talking about the European Union.

The second breakfast turned out to be quite good.  It started out with free beer, which didn’t hurt. There were some assorted appetizers and pretzels; but the main course was three different sausages.  Delicious.

    

Later in the day after the regular lunch, we were invited to an ice cream sundae party.  This was quite a treat, and they offered all different kinds of toppings.

   

The docking location in Bamberg wasn’t very appealing.  It was next to what looked like a scrap reclamation center.  I am sure it wasn’t something the Chamber of Commerce was proud of; but it was a dock.

 

Our tour guide was a very sweet young lady named Astrid.  She would take us all over the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We had already seen some beautiful German cities and expected to see pretty much the same type of city in Bamberg.  I was glad that my expectations were not realized.  The town’s architecture and statues were different.

    

As we walked through town we passed a very large farmer’s market.  The fruits and vegetables looked so good.

 

I particularly liked the area near the river.  There was a lot of activity and beauty in that area.  I really liked the City Hall right on the water.

    

    

Carol was impressed with an area of Bamberg known as "Little Venice" because the homes are located on canals.

   

With it being on the water, I couldn’t walk directly over to the other side of the city hall building that looked so interesting.  I would make a point of returning to the area later on the other bridge.  In most of the cities we had visited, the water flow was mild.  In Bamberg the water flow was much stronger and there were small rapids.

 

Astrid pointed out a building with green shutters for us to return to later in the day to try Bamberg’s famous Smoky Beer.  She told us that it kind of had a bacon taste.  That was not a description that made me anxious to try it; but I knew I would have to.  Especially, since Astrid had given everyone a coupon that was good for a free Smoky Beer.

    

For our next destination we had to take a long walk up a hill so we could visit the Bamberg Cathedral.  Pope Clement II is buried there.  He is the only pope that is not buried in either France or Italy.  It was a huge church with four tall towers; but only two of them could be seen from any angle.

    

I had high hopes that the interior would be magnificent; but for the most part it was relatively plain.  However, the statues at the altar were quite beautiful.

    

One of the treasures of the cathedral is a statue of a knight on a horse named the Bamberg Horseman.  People have tried unsuccessfully to figure out who the knight is supposed to be for years.

 

The tombs of Heinrich II and his wife were also in the church.  That was the most interesting part of the visit, since their images were molded into the tomb.

 

 After we left the church, we walked over to the magnificent rose garden.  I thought that it was the prettiest part of the visit to the cathedral.

    

   

Astrid took us down the hill by a staircase.  It was a much quicker way than the long steep walk up the hill.  Astrid took us close to the tavern she had shown us earlier, so we could get a beer and told us how to return to the bus.  Several of our group went into the tavern and ordered the Smoky Beer.  It was a dark beer and it did have a smoky flavor; but it wasn’t that bad.  Astrid had told us that by the third beer we would really like it.  I had to agree, the taste was kind of growing on me by the end of the first one.

 

Before I headed to the bus, I wanted to go back to the bridge that I had seen earlier on the other side of the city hall.  I was so glad that I did.  The view from that side was much better.  I was so impressed with the beauty of that part of the river.

    

   

On one area of the large mural on the City Hall, the artist inserted a caricature of himself into the painting - literally.  It looks as if he stuck his leg through the wall.  In the wider view, it can just barely be seen; but close up it is quite humorous.

   

Bamberg had turned out to be a special city and I was glad we had stopped there.  We boarded the bus to go back to the boat to get ready for the Captain’s Cocktail Party and Farewell Dinner.  We would also be entertained by a very good singer, Valerie.  It was our last night on the Amalegro.

 

Disembarkation and Nuremberg, Germany

During the previous night’s cocktail party, the Captain told us that they had developed some mechanical problems.  The spare part that they used to replace the defective part had also failed.  Because of that we wouldn’t be able to get all the way to Nuremberg in the morning.  Where we would stop would add an additional fifteen minutes to the bus ride into Nuremberg.   We had been a little concerned, but needlessly since they were able to cruise to our original destination after all.  We did, however, appreciate the way the Captain had kept everyone informed.

One nice thing about disembarkation on the Amalegro is that we didn’t have to put our luggage out until 7:00 AM.  It is so much easier than having to put it out the night before as with ocean cruises.  While we were eating breakfast, the luggage was picked up and put outside for us to identify before being loaded on the busses.  It was a very easy disembarkation.

Due to the water level, we had to leave the ship by walking up to the upper deck and then down a ramp to the busses.  We really enjoyed having the ships officers bidding us farewell as we left.  It was like saying goodbye to family.  They had been very good to us and we would miss them.

     

The plan for the day was to do a tour of the city of Nuremberg and then make the long drive to Prague.  When we were in Nuremberg two years earlier, the tour focused on the Nuremberg Castle.  This time we would see different things.  When our tour guide Janet began to speak, it was obvious she wasn’t a native German.  Her Scottish brogue gave her away, but she was very informative. 

Our first stop was to the Zeppelin Field where Hitler had his Nazi Party Rallies.  Over the years, I had seen many photos of it, especially the one showing the large swastika on the top of the stand being blown up by the Allies.  Janet showed us a couple photos from when the field was in use by the Nazis so we could envision what it used to look like..

   

It was a very large area, but there was some type of dog show going on where a bunch of trailers were parked on the field and it made it hard to appreciate the full size of the massive stadium.  In addition, there were many barking German Shepards all over the area. 

    

The large concrete structure near where we were standing was one of thirty-six restroom stations.  Those were large restrooms.  As we were leaving I could see some of them lined up along the side of the field.

    

Across a small pond from the Zeppelin Field was the very large unfinished Nuremberg Colosseum also known as the Congress Hall.

 

We then drove around the city passing the old wall at several places.  I was impressed with the various wall towers we passed.

    

We then drove by the Justice Palace where the War Crimes Tribunal was held.  It was unfortunate that the city had allowed a gas station to be built in front of one of their most popular tourist attractions.

 

We passed by a small church with a grave yard and gorgeous flower garden.  Everyone was oohing and aaahing.  The bus went by very slowly so everyone could get a look.

    

The tour ended in the main square.  The most popular photo stop there is what is named “The Beautiful Fountain”.  It was very ornate and quite deserving of its name.  As one might expect, it had a legend associated with it about a brave young man earning the love of a fair maiden.

   

On the other side of the square was the St. Lorenz Cathedral.

    

 Since we had a lot of free time in Nuremberg, I enjoyed walking around the large square looking at the lovely flowers, vegetables and various food items, in addition to an unusual statue.  I am sure there is an interesting story that goes along with it.

    

 

The downtown area was very pretty.  I enjoyed taking photos around the bridges.  The views were outstanding in that charming city.

    

   

There were two food items that Janet told us we had to try that were unique to Nuremberg.  The one I was most interested in was what was called Nuremberger Sausages.  There was a small stand across from the fountain that had them.  Janet was right.  They were outstanding.

    

Lebkuchen or their gingerbread was the other must try food item.  Carol had bought a package for us to try on the bus ride to Prague.  It was different from any gingerbread I had ever had.  We liked it and I am not a big gingerbread fan.  At the gingerbread shop Carol had also picked up some candy billed as "The Original Praline".  The brand name was Goldkenn.  The lady told her it was chocolate, and from the shape she knew it wasn't like the pralines we eat.  As it turned out, it was a solid bar of scrumptious chocolate.  Thank goodness Europe doesn't require caloric information be put on their packages like we do!  It's also a good thing that the bus was already underway, or we would have been tempted to run back and purchase some more of it.

For the ride from the boat to Nuremberg and all the way to Prague, we had an escort named Stephanie.  She was great.  She was able to provide everyone with information about what we would be doing in Prague as well as giving touring and dining suggestions.

 

Since the ride to Prague would take around four hours, we stopped at a very nice restaurant at a hotel in the town of Eingang.  Prior to our arrival, Stephanie had passed out a menu with a limited selection.  She took our orders and called them into the restaurant in order to make the stop as quick as possible.  We both felt we just had to get a sausage platter.  The food was outstanding.  I thought I would get tired of sausages, but the ones I was ordering were so good, I just had to keep ordering them everywhere we went.  Of course sausages necessitate beer!

 

Post-Cruise in Prague, Czech Republic

I remembered from our Danube cruise that the ride to Prague was a pretty one.  The rolling hills, farms and lush green fields were just gorgeous.

    

We arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel a bit later than planned, just before 5:00 PM.  It looked like a very nice hotel.  When the bus pulled up to the hotel, a Lamborghini and Maserati were being parked; which was a good indication that the hotel was frequented by a high end clientele.

 

We found the room to be very comfortable and roomy, especially after being in a cruise cabin for a week.  The room seemed really large to us.

    

It was also really nice to have a full size bathroom again even if it didn't have the nice shower we had enjoyed on the Amalegro.

    

Since Euros are not accepted in the Czech Republic, I needed to exchange some dollars for some Czech Crowns; and I was also anxious to go to Old Town Square.  Carol wasn’t up to walking around yet, so she stayed at the hotel to unpack for our day and a half in Prague and rest up after the long ride. 

Prague is an absolutely beautiful city and it is such a pleasure to just walk around and look at the architecture. 

    

A major tourist attraction in the square is the Astronomical Clock located on the city hall tower.  It is the only one in the world that still works. 

    

It is an unusual clock, but the main appeal is the Walk of the Apostles that takes place every hour on the hour.  The doors open and moving sculptures of the apostles go past the openings. 

    

At the same time and for a few minutes after the “Walk”, a live trumpeter dressed in a period costume played a tune from the top of the tower.  The crowd loved it.

 

The other imposing structures in the square, other than the fountain in the center, are the gothic Týn Church that looks like it came out of a Halloween movie and the beautiful white baroque St. Nicholas Church.

   

I didn’t have much time to sightsee, since we were meeting some friends we hadn’t seen in four years.  We had met Helen and John on a Mediterranean cruise four years earlier and had kept in touch with them.  A few months before the cruise we found out that they were going to be in Prague before their AMA river cruise while we were just finishing ours.  We were so thrilled when we found out that we would be staying in the same hotel for two nights.  We had made reservations for the four of us at our favorite Prague Restaurant, Kolkovna (http://www.kolkovna-restaurant.cz/), which was between our hotel and the square.

   

We were able to get an outside table, which can be very difficult in the very popular restaurant.  We had a wonderful dinner while we discussed our just completed cruise and the Danube cruise they were getting ready to start.  After dinner, we walked over to the square where I wanted to get some photos of the illuminated Týn Church.  The church and surrounding buildings in the square were so lovely.

  

      

On the way back to the hotel, we did some window shopping.  One of the buildings near the hotel was different in that some of the windows changed colors.  It didn’t really fit with the rest of the building, but it did catch our attention.

When we got back to the hotel, we went to the top floor where there is a restaurant with a great view of the city.  It was nice and it was the only time that I had ever been able to see what the side of the Tyn Church looked like, since it is surrounded by buildings when at ground level.

Since we knew we had a very full day the next day, we called it a night and made plans to get together again the next night.

 

Prague, Czech Republic – Day 2

The last day of our vacation had arrived.  It would be a busy one.  We boarded the bus for a visit to the largest castle in the world, Hradčany Castle.  Our last tour guide of the trip, Liba, was outstanding.  She was very informative and was very helpful in assisting everyone in making their plans for the afternoon.

Upon entering the castle grounds, we entered a large courtyard with a lovely fountain. There was also a birdcage structure that was covering what appeared to be an old well.

    

The St. Vitus Cathedral on the castle grounds is massive and beautifully decorated.  As lovely as the Rose Window was from the exterior, I felt certain the view from the interior would be even better.

    

We didn’t have to wait long to find out.  It was a beautiful Gothic church.

 

And as expected, the Rose Window was magnificent.  As were the other stained glass windows.

    

When we visited St. Vitus two years ago, there was no charge to enter the main part of the church.  Since they now charge a fee, our tour was limited to the back of the church.  It would have been worth the cost to see the whole church; but it wasn’t on the tour.  Even though we could see the altar, it wasn’t the same as being able to see it close up or the other rooms and decorations at the front part of the church.

We didn’t stay in the church too long, since there wasn’t that much to see from the back.  We walked out into the courtyard and could see the side of the church which was even prettier than the front.

    

   

A large mosaic was above the former main entrance to the church.  It is called the Golden Portal.

 

When we walked around the corner, we could see the back of the church with its flying buttresses. 

 

This church also had a large number of gargoyles on it.

    

We then walked through the main gates of the castle as we were getting ready to leave.

      

It was an interesting place to visit with interesting buildings and statues.

    

From the castle, there is a very nice view of the city, although it was a bit hazy that day.

    

The last time we were there the tour guide took us down some very long steep sets of stairs.  Liba instead took us down a much easier way that provided for a casual downhill stroll.

 

During the walk down to the Charles Bridge we passed lots of pretty buildings and decorations.

    

We passed by St. Nicholas Cathedral, which I remembered to be a really pretty church.  It was rather confusing to have both a St. Nicholas Cathedral and St. Nicholas Church in the same city.  I wanted to return there later in the day.  There was a nice statue behind it also.

    

At that time I left Liba and the tour, since they were going to walk the Charles Bridge and back to the hotel.  I had wanted to visit the Vrtbovská Zahrada gardens.  I had read about it when I visited Prague two years earlier; and had tried to visit it.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find it then; and I was not going to miss it again this time.  I had brought a map of where it was supposed to be to help me find it; but I didn’t need it because Liba showed me where it was.  I understand now why I couldn’t find it.  I was looking for a garden, not a door to a passageway to a garden.

    

When I paid the entrance fee, they let me know I couldn’t go into the lower section of the garden because a wedding was taking place there.  As I got my first glimpse of the garden, I thought to myself “What a great place for a wedding”.

    

There were manicured hedges, ivy covered walls, lush lawns and beautiful statues all over the place.

    

   

As I kept walking up to the higher levels, I could see more and more of the lovely garden.

    

The views of the city were really nice.  I could see St. Vitus and St. Nicholas Cathedrals along with the orange tiled roofs of the city.

    

It was a very peaceful location surrounded by a very busy city.  It was a very special place, and there also weren’t many tourists there.  I had offered to take some photos of a couple that had been taking photos of each other in the gardens.  I told them I would take several.  For the last photo I told them to kiss.  They were very happy with that one.  As I was walking around taking more photos of the garden, I saw the couple further up in the garden practicing their kissing routine. 

This was a very romantic place and I would imagine that it is often used for proposals as well as weddings.  It is a really nice place to visit.  I was so glad I had found it this time.

When I left the garden, I headed over to the St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was right around the corner.  I was anxious to return to the church that I had enjoyed so much the last time we were in Prague.  Construction of the Cathedral began in 1283, so it is a very old building.

The ornate Baroque interior is just breathtaking.

    

 

   

The mural on the ceiling is one of the largest in all of Europe

    

The magnificent white 2500 pipe organ was actually played by Mozart himself.  That must have been a hard ticket to get.

 

Right down the street from the Cathedral is the 600 year old Charles Bridge.  The main thing I remembered about it from the first time, other than it being a beautiful bridge, was that it was crowded with people.  Once again it was packed. 

    

It was difficult to take photos with all the people. 

    

There are thirty statues lining the 1700 foot long 33 foot wide bridge.  They are quite stunning.

 

I got a kick out of a balloon ride that elevated people over the river.

The views from the bridge are really nice.  Walking off the bridge I looked back to see the castle on the hill.  A very nice view.

    

As I walked along the street going back to the hotel to meet Carol for lunch, in addition to other lovely buildings, I passed by the Prague Opera House.  I wished I had enough time to check out the interior since I really enjoy opera houses, but I knew I was going to have to save it until the next time we visit Prague.

   

We went to a good restaurant right next to our hotel, the Pilsner Urquell Restaurant.  Helen and John had raved about how good it was, so we decided to try it.  They were right; we had a very nice meal there.

 

After lunch, Carol stayed at the hotel to finish packing for tomorrow’s flight home.  I wanted to go back down by the square to just enjoy the area.  When I got there, a marathon run was taking place.  I was surprised that the run would take place through one of the busiest, most congested areas of the city.

 

While exploring some of the streets around Old Town Square, I came to the Powder Tower, which was once one of the gates to the city in the middle ages.  It is quite an ornate structure for a gate.

    

Near the Powder Tower was a building I just had to take some photos of.  It is the Municipal Hall, and the beautiful mural on it was done by the art nouveau artist Mucha.

 

I was enjoying the incredible Prague architecture, when I came across a lovely church I hadn’t previously seen, the Church of St. James the Greater.  It was another beautiful Baroque church.  The exterior was a relatively plain structure with three gorgeous sculptures on it. 

 

The interior was anything but simple.  It was marvelous.  It is the second largest church in Prague and has many legends associated with it.  Its decorations are considered to be the most beautiful in Prague.

    

I really love to visit churches and try to research which churches to visit before a vacation.  This one had been a great find and a total surprise.   

Before I went back to the hotel, I wanted to visit the St. Nicholas Church which I missed seeing the interior of last time.  While going there, I was reminded of the term “ABC” that a couple of guides had mentioned during their tours.  It means “Another Beautiful Church” or Another Bloody Church”, depending upon one’s view on visiting churches.  I was looking for a another beautiful church and the St. Nicholas Church was beautiful indeed.

 

I really liked the wonderful frescos and gold decorations against the white interior.

    

Even though it was one of the smaller churches, I had not seen such a huge chandelier in any other church.

 

For our last dinner in Prague, Helen and John wanted to return to Kolkovna, where we had eaten the previous night because they enjoyed it so much.  Max and Darlene also went with us; as did another couple Malcolm and Michelle, who were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary on the cruise. We had a great dinner and a wonderful final night of our vacation. 

The next morning when the van picked us up from the hotel, we were pleased that Liba was escorting us to the airport.  It was nice to have someone along who could send us in the right direction when we got to the airport.  Our vacation was over, but the memories of the wonderful places we had visited would last forever.  

 

Recap

This was our second European River cruise and our third cruise with AmaWaterways.  We are officially hooked on them.  We have found that a river cruise meets so many of our requirements for what makes a vacation really special.  We are already looking at where our next river cruise will be.

 

    

Below is a link to the Shutterfly albums with other photos from the vacations:
Shutterfly Albums

 

© 2013 ThePreismans.com • All Rights Reserved