The Charles Bridge in Prague

There are several reasons to visit Prague in the Czech Republic and one of those is the Charles Bridge, which leads from the old town area over the Vltava River to the Prague Castle. Prague is extremely popular with tourists and the bridge is no exception, so be prepared for heavy crowds and lots of tour groups when you visit, even during the off-season. Equally impressive as the bridge itself are the guard towers that protect the bridge and serves as a stunning entrance. The views of the castle from the bridge are quite amazing, but the main attractions of the bridge are the statues that line both sides.

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View Walking Across the Bridge
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One of the 30 Statues and Statuaries
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Bridge Tower

Construction of the bridge began in the 1300’s and it has been damaged and restored many times throughout its history. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the 30 statues and statuaries were added on top of the bridge pillars along both sides of the bridge, greatly enhancing its beauty. Today, as visitors take photographs of the amazing artwork, they are appreciating reproductions as the originals started to be removed in the 1960’s in fear for damage and vandalism. Despite the fact that they are replicas, they still remain quite an impressive sight.

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Amazing Artwork
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Weathered, but Beautiful
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Looking across the Bridge towards the Castle

There is one statue on the bridge, the statue of St. John Nepomuk, that is of particular interest to tourists. It is on your right as you head from the old town towards the castle and can be identified by his gold halo and the crucifix in his arms. Below the statue are two plaques, one to the right and one to the left of the statue. Legend has it that if you rub the plaque to the right you will one day return to Prague, while another legend has it that if you rub the plague to the left, with the dog, you will have good luck.  Needless to say, they are just legends, but there are throngs of people lining up to rub the plaques, making them shiny from their efforts.

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St. John Nepomuk Statue
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View of Charles Bridge from another Bridge in Prague
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Walking the Bridge

Today it is a pedestrian only bridge and you will find many street artists and vendors playing music as well as selling arts and crafts. We couldn’t help but purchase a watercolor from an artist along the bridge that we felt truly replicated the feel of being on that historic site. Despite the immense crowds, it was definitely one of those places that when you visit, it stays with you forever. We will always cherish the views of Prague and the castle from the Charles Bridge.

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View of the Castle
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Us with the Castle in the Background
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Crowds on the Bridge

 

Rugged Beauty

There are many beautiful things about the mountains of Colorado and sometimes they aren’t always the typical scenery. As you hike in the Rockies, you often come across trees that have died or fallen down due to storms. While this might seem sad at some level, there are often wonderful details in the withered wood that provides an interesting contrast to the typical, lush, vistas that surround you. For this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Spring – Wood, we thought that we would focus on some of the photos that we have taken of dead trees and tree stumps. All of these were from hikes here in Colorado, although not all of them were in the Spring since hiking in Colorado during the springtime can be tricky at times.

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Hiking Up Pikes Peak
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New Growth and Old Trees
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Is It Walking?
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Rugged Tree

 

The Pubs of Dublin, Ireland

To say that there are a lot of pubs in Dublin is an extreme understatement. If you are in the mood for a pint, there are options around every corner and down every street and alley. Needless to say, we did not visit anywhere close to all of the options that were available, but the we truly enjoyed the ones that we did visit. Some of them served much more than your typical bar food, while others served exactly what you would expect, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and the iconic Irish breakfast.

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The Brazen Head
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Ornate Ceiling
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The Main Bar at The Church

We especially enjoyed the pubs that were converted from old buildings such as The Bank on College Green and The Church. The Bank on College Green is obviously a former bank, but the site has been occupied even longer than its conversion to a bank in 1892 by Belfast Bank. Its location near Trinity College makes it a popular location for tourists as well as college students. The ornate decorations and stained glass window are obvious signs of the wealth of the banking industry even during the turn of the century. The Church is a restaurant pub converted from St. Mary’s Church in 1997 after the church closed in 1964 and remained abandoned. One of the interesting things about The Church is that they kept most of the original features of the historic site and there is even a self-guided tour that you can take that features a bust of Arthur Guinness, Baptismal, Gallery, Tower, Burial Crypts, and more.

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Stained Glass Ceiling at The Bank on College Green
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Stain Glass Window at The Church
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View of the Working Organ at The Church

We were celebrating our mother’s 79th birthday on our visit to Ireland, so we didn’t stay out late, but there are many options for listening to authentic Irish music, dancing, and general nightlife. One of the most famous is The Temple Bar, which is located in the heart of the area also known as Temple Bar. One of the other interesting pubs that we visited was T.P. Smiths, which had a unique spiral staircase made from copper to resemble brewing vats. There is also an interesting mosaic in the main bar that adds to the atmosphere. We have to admit, though, that it was its proximity to our hotel that caused us to visit this friendly pub a couple of times.

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Copper Staircase
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Temple Bar
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T.P. Smiths

Finally, and certainly not least, was The Brazen Head, officially Ireland’s oldest pub. The pub itself has the feel that you would expect from the oldest pub in Ireland, stone walls and a dark atmosphere, but over time the pub has grown into a full restaurant and hotel with many floors of rooms to serve eager guests. We preferred the atmosphere of the old pub, but could certainly see the beer garden being a lively spot during a warmer time of year. No visit to Dublin is complete without visiting this famous spot, especially if you are a fan of historic pubs as we are.

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Inside of The Brazen Head
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Enjoying a Pint
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The Beer Garden

As we mentioned, we could only scratch the surface of all of the pubs that Dublin has to offer. One could probably spend several months in Dublin before visiting even the majority of the offerings. Even with the reputation that the Irish have for their fondness to drink, it seems that the tourists take advantage of a visit to Dublin to drink like a local. We typically don’t need an excuse, but we enjoyed the sampling that we were able to experience during our brief time in the city. What truly makes each place wonderful are the people, everyone of these locations had friendly staff who were quick with a smile and a story if you were willing to listen.

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Brazen Head Menu
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Close Up of the Organ at The Church
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Local Pint
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Looking Down at The Bank on College Green