Well I’m in Prague for a new adventure. Others may disagree but I feel that writing about my travels is more interesting and something I’m better at. Others of you who follow me may disagree.
I’ve never really been this far East in terms of Europe, especially if you discount an ill fated trip to the Berlin area which lasted less than 24 hours before I was on the soonest plane out due to some reaction to the place I was staying it and could barely breathe! Thankfully no such issue this time around, not that in have spent long in the hotel yet. It’s also an adventure as I’m not good with languages, even English according one of my teachers from my youth, and while I have smatterings of French German and Spanish, especially in terms of being able to understand what is written on a sign, Czech is a whole different ballgame.
I’d done my research and knew what I needed to do from the airport. I’m a great fan of good public transport and Prague is known for this. I was, to be honest slightly petrified of the first trip though. The system works through the buying if a ticket for a period of time from when you validate it. Such were the warnings about ensuring that you did this when you boarded (plain clothes officers ride to do random checks with serious penalties if you haven’t a valid ticket) that my biggest concern was would I be able to work out how to do this. In the end it was easy, having put the ticket into the machine I could see how easy and sensible the system was. The other ninjas was how cheap as well. For the price of just over one pound you can travel for 90 mins. That covers bus, tram and tube. I know things are relative, but for me, London is an hour away and the very cheapest I could do that is about £10 with a load of restrictions. This ticket had no peak or off peak restrictions, so a better comparison would be an our £50. The whole journey was painless and quick. The time they said it would take, it took. 40 minutes after leaving the airport, I was in Prague.
I had chosen to get off of the metro at what I had thought might be a popular stop. This was due to its location close to the river etc. This was not the case and me and the 10 other passengers (maybe the others wanted their money’s worth and we’re going to ride for 89 minutes before disembarking), made our way out. I’ve never been a big architecture buff and would struggle to know one style from another with a couple of exceptions. What I do know is what I like and coming out of the station I was greeted with building after building of sheer elegance,topped only by a concert hall on the river bank.
I was on an early flight and while I am sure it would not have been an issue to check in early, I didn’t want to put the hotel out, so it was time for a stroll. (My new hand luggage has an attachable shoulder strap so that helped make life easier in this respect. Two things became very clear very quickly in my wanderings. First is that Prague was a lot smaller than I thought it was. Maps can be deceptive, and as a walker, I realised that, cheap as it was, I wasn’t likely to be using the public transport much. The other was that down lots of side streets were little treats, not marked on a map that needed investigation. While I do like having a ‘plan’ I terms of sightseeing, I also like to ‘aimlessly wander’ (friends will testify to this). I could see myself doing a lot of this over the coming days.
In my pre book in wanderings, I came across a group of cyclists getting ready for a journey. What really brought them to my attention was that after a second look these people were some formal group. Many were dressed in traditional ancient clothing for cycling. Others less so. One had wooden clogs and a kilt on. Not sure about the mix but you’re probably realising where the title comes from now. There were also three men riding penny farthings, something I haven’t seen in a very long time. (In case you were worried you’ll be relieved to know that the man in kilt was no on one of the penny farthings. That might have been too much for a number of reasons.
By now the legs were starting to tire and it was gone check in time. A rest was needed. While I am a walker and enjoy it, most of Prague is cobbles and that does reduce endurance somewhat. I was staying in a boutique hotel for the first time. I can’t really complain. The bedroom could jots several professional cat swingers and the bed was comfortable. I dozed off for a bit quite quickly, but then I had been up early.
Rousing from my slumber I felt it was time to be a bit more formal in my explorations and set off for the Christmas market in the town square, also host to the Astronomical Clock. The clock itself is a work of beauty. How it works however is a mystery to me. I’m sure there is an explanation on the internet, but I’m not sue I want to know. I’m happy that it looks amazing.
While in the area and the Christmas market I decided to partake I some of the food on offer. Mulled wine, hot apple wine and other drinks abounded. There were also lots of sweet and savoury items on offer. Whether or not these are traditional foods or not I don’t know. Possibly not, they were though nice, even if I hadn’t realised that some of the food was charge by weight and I ended up eating 5 pounds (money that is rather than weight) worth of potato, ham and cabbage. To be fair it was nice though, and it did fill a gap.
Refueled, I wandered on towards Wenceslas Square. Yes him of the carol. Again down lots of side streets I found distractions to go and photograph. I’ve probably managed over 60 based on a few hours, so not all of them will get posted, but they will be staying on the camera for a while. The only problem I had with these distractions was that while I was seeing some beautiful buildings that were not on the tourist maps, I was nearly back at the astronomical clock again. Bearings regained I made my way across the city to the square. This is more comical, with high street brand names abounding. There were also some establishments that one might wonder what the good king would have made of.
Darkness was falling and I had located earlier where I wanted to have an evening beer. Sun setting in front of me, Charles Bridge behind, and a beer much cheaper than in the uk. What confused me slightly was the blankets on the seat. At first I thought someone had left them behind, then noticing them at every table I thought http maybe they were reserved seats. A little waiting showed this not to be the case. Beer purchased I sat down to watch the sun set. It was a lovely sight, watching the buildings around light up at dusk, especially the castle. Even the evening star was prominent in the sky. A few minutes later, with darkness descending, I realised why the blankets were there. While my body was warm sitting around in the increasing darkness, I didn’t have nearly as many layers on my legs and through the jeans I was feeling the chill. The blankets removed this instantly and the fact that everyone was doing the same meant that I didn’t feel like I was being such and old man.
There was still time for a little more exploring before retiring for the night. One of the charms with the city is that unless you are in the main shopping area you are not in brightly lit streets. They are lit, but only dimly. While this might not be to everyone’s taste I don’t believe that it was causes concern for others and it was nice to be able to see the night stars while still in the city.