Well day two dawned and the sun had decided to make itself scarce. It was noticeable how different the temperature was. The different layers, wooly hat and scarf were certainly needed.
As I normally do, I was playing things a bit flexible again. In the back of my mind was a nice hockey home match mid afternoon. In many respects it’s timing wasn’t great as it was an earlier start than most and it would still be daylight when it started. I therefore had to decide if I would have enough time for it with other stuff I would like to do. I’d only brought a small camera so night time photos were problematic and I wanted to make the most of the daylight.
With a healthy (at least in terms of quantity if not health) inside me I headed off for Charles Bridge to make my way across the river and up to the castle. The castle and cathedral within the castle walls are one of the most recognised images of Prague. It overlooks the city, is beautifully lit at night and catches the evening sun I between those times. If you had to place it anywhere, where it is could only be described as ‘spot on’. There are a number of ways to get there but I was taking a circular route, today and would be approaching from the east side and on foot. Sadly the views on the way up weren’t great due to the high walls either side of the steps. These were great for funnelling attackers of old, and making them easy targets, but less useful for tourists. Thankfully at the top things widened out with lower walls to appease those wanting photos. The lack of high walls left me wondering if attackers never made it this far and the lower walls were there for the sketch artists (photographers of their day) to quickly knock up a panorama of the view before the next attack.
Apart from being slightly tired from the walk up (cobbles all the way), I discovered a flaw in the plan. Some of the castle area is accessed by ticket only, at least to access them fully. Of course, to get those tickets I had to cross the castle complex to the main entrance. Checking the map and what I could and couldn’t do, I decided that I wasn’t going to ‘to and fro’ it and would just work my way through, seeing what I could. There was still plenty to look at and photograph. Beautiful stained glass windows, wonderful architecture all could be accessed without the tickets. I suspect there would have been more for me to take in had I opted for either the ticket and the tour, but maybe that can happen another time. I was seeing enough for me on a first visit with limited time.
Having learned not to trust the tour map for distances, I ambled onto what is called the Prague Eiffel Tower. In truth it was inspired by it, and does give wonderful views of the city from what is probably the highest point that side of the river. However to give an idea of the size differences and why most who haven’t been to Prague won’t have heard of it, I bought the walking ticket and was at the top in under 5 minutes. The views are great and it’s well worth the money. I was slightly unnerved though by the wobble factor at the top. In truth I couldn’t tell where this came from. It could have been people going up and down the stairs (different ones for up and down that were dutifully ignored by many causing lots of ‘excuse me’ statements, or at least I hope that is what they were). Other options were the lift or the wind, but it didn’t really notice them all the time.
Reaching terra firma I had a little stroll and made my way to the easier option of travelling back to the city. There is a funicular that has been servicing the area for over 100 years on and off. With video camera in hand I wanted to get a front seat for some good footage of the descent. This meant waiting around till the queue had got on the next one and I could be first for the one after that. They have a nice history of the funicular so I busied myself with reading that while I waited. For some reason my attention kept being drawn to the multiple pictures of landslides through the ages that had put it out of action from time to time. Suddenly walking seemed a better idea. In the end my plans were scuppered when I grabbed a seat at the front only for someone to stand in front of me. So much for the view. I filmed out the side rather than forwards, though with all the trees in the way I’m not sure the footage will be more interesting than filming directly ahead. At least I hadn’t wasted time at the top reading anything scary!
What was nice at this point was I still had plenty of time to get to the ice hockey match, and after so long on my feet, a rest for a couple of hours was long over due. I like going to sporting occasions when I travel with my own itinery. This will made it my second ice hockey game and I do quite enjoy them. I also had a good track record having been present at home team wins on all occasions, so I was hopeful and confident for the home side. Sadly my perfect record now lies in tatters, so I’m clinging to the fact that it is still perfect in the USA.
On my return I noticed that I had time, should I want to, to make the opera. However, on walking past I couldn’t help but feel that, even should I return to the hotel and change, even the best of what I was wearing would be greeted with some cold stares and a speedy redirection to the exit. Everyone waiting to go in was in suits as a minimum. Clearly they hadn’t just brought hand luggage with them. It also explain the people I had passed earlier struggling to stay upright (not through alcohol) as they walked in high heels along the cobbled streets.