Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Prague Twofer......We Go To Castle And Zoo for..........

We still had a day left on our Castle Pass, so we headed over this morning. While waiting or tram #22 a motorcade came down the hill with police escort, security forces and motorcycle outriders blocking intersections. I believe it was the Czech President, Scooterchick believes I have an over active imagination. I have seen the way our Prime Minister travels in Canada, and it is very similar.

We arrived at the castle, and this time we saw the entire changing of the guard ceremony. I have video, but it is about 15 minutes long with about 4 minutes of action and 11 minutes of standing around. This is a picture of a member of the Hradna  Stanska (Castle Guard).

The statuary they have at the gate shows Historic Czechs vanquishing historic foes. Pretty graphic stuff, leaves little to the imagination if you come as a foe to the czech cause.

One of these dudes flanks each side of the gate. No mercies for enemies of the vital Czech cause.

This is the gate in detail. Pretty ornate.

One last shot of St. Vitus, looming over the castle, and looming in fact over the city proper.

On the way out we saw a display of birds of prey. They had a falconer there. It is necessary to study for several years and take examinations to get a licence for the smaller ones and for the larger further levels of licensing. The Golden Eagle was traditionally used to hunt wolves and roe deer.

The falcon can stoop at over 180mph and the eagle must be licensed like having a gun. They are that powerful and ferocious.

One of these things is not like the other. This statue flanks a set of stairs going down to a fountain in the Royal Garden.

You see what I mean. One is like ....say....Thing 1, the other is like .....say Thing 2.
You can see the fountain in the background.

The Gardens are open from 6am until 11pm year round for the people to recreate. We saw many strolling the grounds and they had some fort of folk fair further on. We elected to have lunch.

We sat down at this little open air restaurant. Their menu was rather limited but we were able to find something we wanted.

Their menu told the story of the evolution of the restaurant from it's usage as a castle building to it's state of disrepair. One of the castle employees operated an ale house, and the castle made a deal with the tenant for a long term lease if they would undertake repair and updating. It has operated as a restaurant since.

I ordered Wild Boar stew. It was served with Potato Gnocchi and a rich Brown Gravy with Cherries and garnished with Watercress. As is the custom they also brought some Rye Bread, but instead of Butter it was served with Spiced and Salted Pork Fat........Different!

My beloved went with the Potato Gnocchi, fried with Cheese and Hints of Ham. It was okay but unimpressive.

WE used their facilities before leaving and they had the most unusual sinks I think I've ever seen.

Same post--Part 2
We headed out after breakfast for the Prague Zoo. When we arrived we saw that it was located across the street from Troy Palace, which was commissioned by the current Count Sternberg, and constructed between 1769-89. It has been well maintained and is used as a venue for festival events. Today it was a wine-tasting.

We ran into this fellow at the gate to the zoo. He is a mascot, but not to the zoo. He is the mascot of a popular snack for children. They were handing out these bars to children attending the zoo.

As we walked up the path we saw these industrious fellows at work on the hillside. I'm glad that we don't get ants this size at home.

On the way up the hillside, we went through the Indonesian Rain Forest.
It was a giant terrarium and we were in the tropics.

More jungle, by now I'm starting to sweat, and look for the exit.

Here is my darling, resting her tootsies in the jungle, before resuming the climb up the hill. That's one thing about this Zoo. It's built on about 15 Acres of flat ground and about 200 acres of hillside. Get your climb on!!!

Here is a view back towards the Rain Forest from outside with a couple of monkeys. I don't know if they were looking for a barrel to have fun.

These little deer are Swamp Deer from Africa. They were cute, and mighty good eating too I'd imagine. We didn't get a chance to try em'.

This is the zoo train. Now that we have climbed just about to the top, we get a chance to ride. It was a short ride and didn't take you any nearer the exhibits than you would have gotten on foot.

These African Hornbills were in with the Swamp Deer. They seemed to get along okay, but I'm sure they kept eyeing the herd. "Hey, Cecil. Doesn't that one look like it's getting a bit sick. Too right Clyde let's hope for a big meal soon." 

Here are Scooterchick and I on the train. Happy to take a rest from hiking, long enough to get a ride around a little bit.

Here is something, I am too far away to recognize what it is and we drove by before the camera really had a chance to focus.

Here are some elephants. I managed to get them just before we passed out of view of their enclosure.

Here is an African Wild Ass. I recognized him, and got his picture on the fly as we roared by. The train driver had it floored by this time, I am sure I have met this guy somewhere in my past.

These are European Bison. pretty weak sisters compared to the ones we get in Oklahoma. They would put these ones to shame, or at least breed up the stock to responsibility in a few short decades.

The driver did stop long enough for me to jump off and grab a few pictures over Prague. As you can see it's a city of some size.

Here's another view showing the Vltava River which runs through the city.

This is a Cassowary. It is understood that they can grow to be about 125lb. I'll bet they would be delicious stuffed with a chicken, inside a duck, inside a turkey, inside a weaner pig.

This is a type of Mongoose. He was eating meal worms and crickets with obvious delight. There were lots in his cage too, mostly running in the opposite direction!!

Honey Badger Says what? This is the first time I have seen one up close. They are cute, but one has to remember they are wild animals, and those big claws they have for ripping open logs to get larvae and honey can rip us open too.

These are Desert Rats. They are clustered together in a little rat ball to sleep. Cute. There must have been about 20 of them all clustered together.

This is a Big Eared Dog. They are cute enough to want one for a pet.

These are another species of Mongoose. They seem to have a real love affair with Mongeese around this place. They had about 12 different varieties. Maybe they are easy to catch...........haha.

I noticed the grape vines they had on a side wall of one exhibit are strating to turn color. It might have gotten as high as 67F. today.

We took a quick look at the Polar Bears. They were a huge hit, with people clustered around their enclosures non-stop.

We stopped long enough for coffee, and for Scooterchick to try an LP record sized thing. There's no really good way to describe it. It was air, slightly sweet and warmed in a press like a waffle. Crunchy, Sweet Air....that about sums it up!

Apparently the crunchy sweet air has given my beloved new vigor...we trudge on.

We returned to our neighboorhood and went for dinner. This is a courtyard that someone has arranged as their own private garden..........niiiice.

We decided to try Suzette Cafe. We got some help with the menu as it was entirely in Czech and neither of us have picked up the lingo just yet.

I have to include some pictures of the bathroom. It is accessed by a spiral staircase to the lower floor. I don't know why most places have the bathroom upstairs or downstairs, rarely on the main floor.

The door is frosted glass and the light comes on when you open it. Okay!

The interior is gleaming black tile, with Gold tile accent. Very classy.

The hand basin was wide and easily accessible. The taps wall mounted and easy to regulate and paper towels. Most of Europe has ineffective hand blowers that leave you wet even after 2 minutes drying. The black and gold motif continues here.

I told the waitress to tell her boss that it was the best bathroom I had seen since we arrived in Europe. Let's see if the food lives up to the bathroom.

My first course was Cream of Asparagus soup. The Asparagus Tips were perfectly cooked and fresh. Sadly the rest of the soup could not support them. It was made with some kind of mix, and was lumpy and too salty. I ate it anyway.

My entree was Spiced Pork, wrapped in Westphalian Ham and roasted. A worthy effort, but the pork was a little too dry. I suspect these entrees are pre prepared then reheated prior to serving. The Pork was tasty as was the Ham, but my socks weren't in fact knocked off. The Roast Baby Potatoes had no spices at all. Bland!

The Spinach was ample, creamy, but overcooked and over salted. I ate it anyway.

The Caesar salad was the bright spot. Lots of dressing, which restaurateurs tend to skimp on, and the Chicken was there to complement Patsy's Palacinka.

The Palacinka itself was a crepe filled with ample quantities of Spinach and Melted Mozzarella. She found it okay, with the exception of the aforementioned oversalted Spinach.

To conclude, 2 days 2 events 1 fantastic bathroom and some well needed rest.
And to all a good night.

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