We’ve a lot of ground to cover today, so let’s get right to it! This morning started with homework time for Elizabeth and the kids. We’ve found that Scarlet’s computer (and Brenna’s as well) are contaminated with all sorts of bugs; with none of our computer geek friends around, they will remain contaminated until we get home. This means that the three people with important homework tasks need to do them on two laptops which becomes stressful at times, but I’m sure we’ll make it.
On the homeschooling front, we’ve made some strides in our etiquette studies. One point of emphasis has been to remember to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. Here are a few examples:
Brenna: (to Arden) “Why don’t you put some moisturizer on your face?”
Arden: “Thank you for your kind words”
Brenna: “You’re welcome for helping you avoid becoming a scaly dragon”
Scarlet: (to Arden) “Would you please clear the table?”
Arden: “I’m not finished eating yet”
Scarlet “Thanks for eating so slow”
Arden: “You’re welcome for not eating like a pig like you”
Brody: (to Scarlet) “Can I please play on your phone”
Scarlet: “No – play on your Nabi”
Brody: “Thanks for ruining my day”
Scarlet: “You’re welcome for trying to make you responsible”
Since civility is covered, I went straight to checking Brody’s homework. His instructions were to read a story about some boys building a treehouse, then draw certain conclusions from it. His answer, as directed, came in the form of a drawing:
After this dysfunctional morning, it was time to head into Prague. We downloaded an audioguide and paired up to conquer Wenceslas Square with detours and a walk to the Charles Bridge. We all know Good King Wenceslas of Christmas Carol fame:
Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho’ the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel.
The good king looked on the poor man with a compassionate heart and delivered food, wine, and firewood to him. Wenceslas was actually a Duke, highly educated and literate, who is credited for Christianizing the Czech people. Sadly, his life was cut short – murdered by his brother in 929 (his brother didn’t get a Christmas Carol). The Roman Emperor posthumously conferred the King title to Wenceslas and he became a saint; the Catholics still parade through town once a year with the skull of the good king.
The tour began at the National Museum. It was closed, but the outside was worth a look. Of note was the repair job on the façade – a sloppy plaster color match. This was done intentionally by the Czechs in the late 60s when Soviet bullets damaged the building in response to an uprising. The Soviets cleared out in 1989 and the Czechs have been doing all right. We are hoping that Putin and the Red boys will stay focused on Ukraine until our trip is over.
We marched through a couple of malls to look over the architecture and taste some of the local delights. Among the sights was a hanging sculpture of Wenceslas, this time riding an upside down horse. Not sure of the meaning, so we write it off as “contemporary art”, don’t ask questions, and move on.
As we moved ahead, the advance scouts had already found the gelato vendor and purchased their cones with the monopoly money of the week (Czech Korunas). The exchange causes us to pause to determine whether we’re getting a good deal or throwing our money out the window. This weeks estimate is to take the amount (example: 100 CZK), drop the ones figure (now we’re at 10), then divide by 2 to get the dollar equivalent ($5). The final step is to pray that they give the correct change, because it is truly monopoly money and they conveniently don’t speak a lick of English when they’re ripping you off.
We visited the Municipal House which was an Art Nouveau showcase with it’s chandeliers, heavy curving lines, and decorative tiles. The building houses a concert hall and a couple of restaurants, but we were able to tour the peasant areas, including the gift shop.
From there, we surfed the people wave down Karlova Street to the Charles Bridge. This was where we began yesterday’s tour, so we broke off and did some freestyling back to an open street market. I like to think that these markets will have those hand-made local goods that will serve as good gifts. But I’m always disappointed. No matter what country we’re in, the “authentic” markets are run by middle easterners. So we’ll have to figure out Plan B for gifts, which will be Amazon or Ebay.
As the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, we ventured to the Mucha Museum. Alfons Mucha is Czechoslovakia’s famous Art Nouveau painter (1870-1939). His works are found in many local buildings, including the stained glass in St. Vitus Cathedral. This small museum had some of his works with a 30-minute film that covered his life story. He designed Czech currency and stamps after WW I, movie posters, and much more, all in his unique style.
At the end of the day, we found some authentic dining at Ceska Kuchyne. This cafeteria-style restaurant had something for everyone. Czech Goulash, Dumplings, Schnitzel, a little bit of hidden sauerkraut, and local beer from the tap. Finally, we were all able to get what we wanted, or close to it. It was filling and delicious and only 900 CZK (you do the math).