Return to Prague
I watch the clouds burn red as the sun sets over Prague, casting golden light on the historic buildings.
I am delighted to be back in this beautiful medieval city, wandering around the perfectly crafted old town.
It is Yom Kippur, so after checking into my new hostel I go to the Jewish quarter. Here is one of the oldest synagogues in the world, continuously in use since the 13th century. I pass the “Jewish test” by security to get inside, answering questions about the holidays and my background. Inside is quite plain and humble, yet elaborate at the same time. Gothic buttresses support the vaulted ceilings, quite rare for synagogues, but in style at the time.
Vines and plants are carved into the doorways and columns. The ark has similar craftsmanship, with two windows showing the Star of David and an opposing geometric shape. It is men only, and I come in during a silent prayer. I don a kippah and quickly find my place, recognizing the Hatzi Kaddish and “L’dor v’dor,” but even then the tune is unfamiliar. A beautiful prayer follows that I don’t recognize, and the whole service is Yom Kippur edition. They pray all day long! There is a prayer where they get on their hands and knees bowing towards the ark at the mention of “Cohenim,” the holy priests.
I wander again through the historic center, resting a bit before going up to the castle. As it turns out it is closed for a political summit, but I still catch a nice sunset with some mulled wine.
I dine at the same restaurant as last time having the same dish, but as a dessert I order poppyseed dumplings. I’m surprised it is sweet, drizzled with butter.
Fortunately, I can visit another fortress past the new town. This area was bombed by accident during WWII (American bombers lost in the fog thought they were targeting Dresden), but was rebuilt with some unique structures.
The fortress has a fancy entrance gate and a small church. The sun feels good as I wander the walls lined with gardens high above the Danube river and city.
The fortress surrounds a beautifully decorated cathedral, Vysehrad, with a rainbow gilded biblical scene on the outside doors. The interior looks exquisite. I have an equally exquisite dinner at the foot of the fortress before heading out.
The next day I explore a beautiful park on a hillside overlooking the city. I walk down to the central marketplace and dine on kolaches and strudel.
I take the tram up to Petrin hill overlooking the city. There is a monestery and some other attractions, but I opt for a hike down through the vineyards past old ruins.
I finally dine on a goulash bread bowl , and it is everything I’d hoped for.
On my last day, I try all the foods at a market along the river, including soup and potato pancakes with cheese and black currant mulled wine.
This is the first time in a month that I’d been traveling completely alone, though I haven’t been this happy solo-traveling since Norway.
I check out a cool island in the river before heading over to the edgy Karlin district park, a soviet block repurposed as a community space.
I enjoy one last sunset up on a hill before leaving on a bus for the Netherlands later that night.