I thought I would walk you through a typical day for us while in Prague. Since Roger is teaching 4 days a week, a routine has begun to evolve. (If your IQ is above 50, this will move a little slowly.)
We leave our pink building,turn right and are instantly in Old Town Square, where we’ve turned tourism into a full body contact sport – it’s the only way to get through the masses who have assembled to watch the astrological clock strike the hour. (It is pretty spectacular – the clock was installed in 1470 and has been putting on the hourly show since then! All twelve apostles make an appearance through two doors while a bell-ringing skeleton slowly rotates an hourglass in his bony hands while a turk bearing a money bag shakes his head ‘no’ to indicate it’s not his time to go yet. Then a cock crows three times and all is silent.) The square tends to be the province of pickpockets and, just yesterday, while we were watching the clock (okay, sometimes we can’t resist either) someone undid the clasp on my watch! Fortunately, it doesn’t just fall off, but this made us heighten our consciousness when we’re in the huge crowds in the square. From there, we walk about five minutes towards the River Vltava (we still can’t pronounce it!) and part ways at Roger’s law school, Charles University, – which is right across the street from my gym (which is in the Hotel Interncontinental). After working out (and teaching), we have to choose between walking home via Parizska(Paris) Blvd (lined with trees, outdoor cafes and designer shops) or the shortcut that runs past the New Old Synagogue ( you have to fight through smaller groups of tourists here. Everyone wants to see the Jewish cemetery (which is humbling) and the attic where the Golem reportedly sleeps.) We reach our front door, are buzzed in by the porter and, after ascending 3 short stairways, come to ‘our’ foyer and then take the 3 CRAZY, tilting, flights up to our flat. Back down a few minutes later, heading in the other direction, to go to Tesco for bread. And my story ends there, in Polish Girl Heaven!
One more note about the astrological clock – the clock is an earth centric design, since it was built before it was realized that the sun was the center of our solar system. It has a gear with 365 teeth on it, so it advances one gear every 24 hours – making it a calendar year long. You can see in the picture that there are two big clock faces – one has the 12 symbols of astrology on it and the other has 365 saint’s names – corresponding to the day of the year on which their feast day falls. This was before the invention of leap year! (It’s a good thing Master Hanus, the genius inventor of the clock, didn’t know about that OR about daylight savings time! I haven’t found an explanation of how those two issues are handled now.)
Also, you’ll notice how narrow the street looks in the photo “going to the store”. Pedestrians share these streets with cars! And the cars do not slow down! You quickly learn to hug the nearest building and suck in anything on your body that protrudes for fear of losing it permanently! So, while this seems incredibly unfriendly to pedestrians, at the same time, the streets are slightly raised at every ‘official’ crosswalk so that you don’t have to step down from the curb – you just continue on your merry way. The cars, however, have to drive up and down steps (actual steps!) to navigate these crosswalks – so I suppose it all evens out. The Czech also have instituted some pretty stringent fines for doing things like letting your dog run off leash OR throwing your gum on the ground! You can expect to pay $150. if the police catch you carelessly disposing of your gum (or your dog).