A Prague Christmas: December 2000

Part I

Our "home" in Prague again on this visit was the Domus Henrici, one of our favorite places in all of Europe. The Domus Henrici is located at Loretanska 11, about halfway between Prague Castle and the Strahov Monastery in the Hradcany district.  It is a small hotel with only 8 rooms in a beautifully restored building in this historic area of the city.  Although some travelers might prefer to stay closer to the center of the old city, the relative quiet of the Castle district has much to offer.  At night, walking back to the hotel, watching a light snow falling through the circle of lights, time seems to stand still, and worries of our busier life seem to disappear for awhile.  Try it; I'm sure that you'll like it.
We opted for one of the larger rooms at the Domus Henrici for this trip.  Packing for a trip in which we stay in a single hotel for most of the days is very different from packing for a trip in which we're moving to several different cities.  We don't have to worry at all about the order in which we pack.  We know that when we get to the hotel, we can dump everything out and not have to worry again until the day that we leave.
We decided that we really had to visit the opera on this trip, and when we discovered that "Don Giovanni" would be presented in the same theater in which Mozart had debuted it more than 200 years ago, we quickly arranged for tickets and packed accordingly.  We weren't quite prepared, however, for the modernized "Don G" in which he is a rock star driving a Lexus, but we soon realized that when the music is the same, other things don't matter much at all.
In Prague, we have found that the costs for accommodations are not much different from in the other great European capitals, but we have found the food to be a little cheaper.  One of our favorite places on this trip was Peklo ("Hell") located literally in the bowels of the earth beneath the Strahov Monastery.  It was dark when we were trying to find the entrance, and we accidentally went into a restricted area of the monastery.  One of the brothers kindly pointed us downward!
If you knew that your American friend would be visiting Prague on a particular day, I think that you could guarantee seeing him simply by standing on Charles Bridge and waiting for him to pass.  I'm pretty sure that we were on the bridge at least once every day and usually more times than that.  
We found that almost all the sights we wanted to visit could be reached using the tram and the metro.  We learned the Muzeum, Mustek, Staromestska, and Malostranska metro stops, and tram line 22 from Malostranske namesti to Pohorelec.  Anything else could be reached by foot.  We always knew we had reached our "home" stop when we spotted the statue of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.
The tram is a welcome sight, when the alternative is the steps leading from the lower town up to Hradcany.  From the castle to Charles Bridge is a fairly easy trip, all downhill, but the walk back up gets longer in direct proportion to the number of extra pounds you have to carry.  We discovered the challenge of the steps late at night on Christmas Eve, one of the few nights of the year that the tram schedule is really affected.  After stopping to rest two or three times before reaching the top, I was amazed to discover that there are actually fewer than two-hundred steps up; if I had made a guess, I'm sure I would have estimated something much closer to a thousand!

Part II
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