Our bus pulled into Prague early enough for us to store our bags at our hostel, books our bus tickets to Bern for the following night, have a kebab lunch, and still make it to the free English walking tour that met underneath the astronomy tower at 2 p.m.
Our Prague buff shared with our group of 15 some of the history of the city and its people and the people who tried to conquer it. We learned about Mozart and Kafka finding inspiration in the streets of Prague. We toured the Jewish Quarter, which Hitler had intended to preserve as a museum of an extinct race. Our guide explained the peaceful split with Slovakia, taking us through history to nearly present-day Prague.
Prague day two got a late start, but with a little bit of running, we made it across town to see the changing of the guard at noon (the good show) at Prague Castle. The military band played from the second-story windows while the guard marched below in their powder-blue uniforms. When the change was done, tourists posed with the two stationed out front a la Buckingham Palace.
A cathedral just inside the castle walls was imposing and free to those willing to wait in a long line. We were rewarded with stunning stained glass windows, including one by Mucha, an art nouveau painter.
A rain storm caught us on our way out of the castle; we rode it out hidden under a great tree with a group of Spanish teenagers and an older couple.
Our map recommended a bar only slightly off our path, so we popped in to try some of the best beer Europe has to offer. By chance we ran into our guide from the day before with just enough time to get a suggestion for dinner. He led us to an alchemist-themed restaurant, but time was short, so we had to order what the waitress promised would come out quickly (chicken schnitzel and goulash).
From the windows of the bus 40 minutes later, we got quite a treat: Prague Castle silhouetted on the darkening sky.