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You Have to Experience This Experience


Our last day in Prague.  We were packed, then down to breakfast, then running up the Fitbit steps before nine, to get to the Old Jewish graveyard.  It was used for over 300 years, 1439-1787, but the land allotted to the Jewish community was never big enough.  In fact, the area was so small it resulted in burial upon burial.  Some graves are twelve deep.  The pictures don’t do it justice; it has a beautiful serenity, in the centre of the Old Town, despite the ghetto backstory.

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Jewish gravestones tell a story, different images may indicate the character of the deceased or their profession.  But for a goy like myself, discerning who was a musician, cantor or physician was “nigh impossible” to quote one web citation.


We had a comedy of errors at first, splitting up, I was first in line at one ticket office, SS lining up then not having enough cash on hand at a different ticket office, but through the miracle of something called texting we sorted it out.


I actually went to the Spanish Synagogue first.  There is, on Trip Advisor, a review that reads “You must experience this experience.”  I really can’t improve upon that.

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It is the “newest” synagogue in the old ghetto built on the site of the oldest.  The design, which references the Alhambra, is as striking as it is detailed.  Plus, bonus, I was the first tourist in.  I was alone for about 15 minutes, immersed in this magnificent building.


The existence of an organ in the synagogue caught me off guard, but according to placards on site the use of an organ to “inaugurate the Sabbath” dates back to the 17th century.

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Even the “lesser” intricacies in the stained glass geometric windows were astonishing.


Beginning in 1942, inventory from “liquidated” synagogues was transferred to Prague “for safe keeping” under the auspices of the Nazis.  Amazingly, these pieces are still in Prague, in one magnificent collection, on display.


Mainly Torah crowns, shields, and other intricately designed silverware.


We were back at the hotel and checked out just before 11.  Although we spent five days in Prague and never took a tram, taxi or the underground once, we had booked a car for the airport.  A spanking new tinted window leather interior Mercedes showed up.  The driver had a client in the EU for which once a month he had to chauffeur him to Strasbourg.  I like to feel like a rock star.

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Today’s flight is PRG to MAD on Iberia.  It was either Iberia or Czech airlines, and CZE didn’t fly to Spain today.  We checked in without much issue then went to the “lounge” which was small and eerily empty.


In fact, half of the lounge was cordoned off.

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Three shots from the flight leaving the Czech Republic.  (We didn’t meet one local who preferred “Czechia.”)


Flying over the Pyrenees.


Madrid’s airport, picture worthy and groovy in a Matt Helm sort of way.  A Stirling prize winner, I believe.mad2

Motion shot on the people mover.  SS is checking his Fitbit!mad3

Futuristic arrival carrels.


We are arriving in Spain on June 14.  That means we missed June 13, the only day of the year in which the Spanish make Panecillos de San Antonio, small rolls marked with a cross, and, wait for it, Suspiros de modistillas which translates to Needlewoman’s sighs, meringues filled with praline.  So our loss.


We’ll make up for it with our hotel.  This is the first “real” hotel of our trip, with door staff and desk staff and marked up mini bar.  It’s located in a renovated palace.  “Not us, we live in a palace” I hear from an earlier blog entry.


Our lovely second floor room (third floor in Canada) has hugely high ceilings, comfortable appointments, and a narrow balcony.


This shot of the giant French door/windows is through the privacy screen.

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The bathroom isn’t huge, but it has three components, the toilet (with a door), the shower, the bath.


The marble staircase wraps around the archaic but gorgeous lift; stained glass runs along the stairwell.


We went out for a long walk in the late afternoon heat (a whopping 29 degrees).  The concierge recommended a close by neighbourhood describing it as having “the best shopping in Madrid” but what he meant was the most expensive: Tiffany’s, Tod’s, The Kooples.  The Kooples?


Iberico ham, wine, cheese, olives and olive oil.  Western Europe is calling me.walk2

Oh dear.  When will designers finally stop trying to get men to wear a short pants suit?  It’s the uniform of an Australian postie.walk3

That is, in case you’re uncertain, a necklace.  Comes with a warning of dowager’s hump.

Immediately we ran into the problem of any tourist in Spain: Getting hungry before nine in the evening (when restaurants open). As it was we stopped for tapas and that was more than sufficient.  With the solstice approaching, we ended up back at the hotel by ten in a lovely dusk.walk4

Man in an expensive suit cycling.  You know you’re in Europe.


The author of Here Hare has traveled to over 45 countries on six continents, and has lived in Canada, the UK and Australia.

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