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Published: July 14th 2015
So here is an attempt at a brief run down of our 9 days, 10 nights.
After day one, Thursday where we tackled the Charles bridge, astronomical clock and lovely gardens on the west banks with the thick crowds of tourists we decided on day two to do the same walk but much earlier in the morning.
We mostly retraced our steps setting out about 7.30am but Prague Castle was added to day two itinerary.
It was 9.30am when all the bus tours started arriving. They engulfed every location and we had done most of our exploration by then. The sun was also quickly heating all the concrete and stone.
Beautiful views from absolutely every angle on all our walks. The camera kept clicking all week.
We returned to our apartment for lunch and then went wandering around Andel in the evening,, which was the shopping area close to where we were staying. The bars, cafes and streets were buzzing with people.
Day three was a Saturday and I had read something online about Farmers markets so a last minute Google before leaving the apartment at 8am discovered a Farmers market only a 10 minute walk
from base on the eastern banks of the river. What a find it was! The farmers market was one of the highlights of our week, as it was so unexpected and such great food. A particular mention to the amazing cheesecake and healthy (most people would call alternative) treats. There was a great selection of raw food treats, heavy whole grain breads and glorious cakes, fresh summer fruits, cheeses and fermented veggies.
I heard an Australian accent explaining to his friend what something curious was and it attracted my curiosity. As it turned out the accent came from a guy who had been working in London and applied for a job in Prague, not knowing what to expect. It had now been three years. Lucky guy! I think! He thought so too.
After the markets we wandered around the New Town, exploring some of the more famous landmarks such as Wenscelas Square, the Kafka moving monument and a cafe where Einstein had frequented, just to name a few. By early afternoon we were overheated and exhausted so went back to base to collapse before going out again in the evening.
I managed to drag Tomas to the top
of Petrin Hill when it had cooled a little in the evening. By the time we got to the top the sun had set and it was getting dark. There was little time left to explore the gardens so we added it to the list of places to return to.
Again we managed an exhausting amount of walking in the day.
Day four was Sunday and I had developed a curiosity for the cathedrals. The last time we had visited St Vitus in the Palace grounds it had been too early in the morning and had not yet opened. I suggested that we attend the Sunday morning service.
Neither of us are normally church goers, although it is something that is more in the Swedes upbringing, even though they are not a strongly religious society, Tomas knew more of what to expect than I did. I was very keen and upon entering the church we were told that it was closed for tourists because of the service. We explained that we actually came to attend the service and we were then welcomed.
The inside was as spectacular as expected but there were surprisingly few people attending, considering what a
magnificent space it was in size and with its artistic and holy treasures.
At the end of the hour service I felt that my mood had been dampened and darkened. This was my own very personal experience. The service had not had a positive effect on me and I cannot explain why, although I was glad that I had been open minded enough to give it a go.
The next hour was spent very pleasantly near the Castle in an air conditioned cafe, with magical views overlooking Prague from the royal perspective.
Next was the opportunity to wander down to the lower levels of the river where the commoners lived through extensive, manicured gardens.
It was challengingly hot. As hot as Greece had been but maybe even more uncomfortably so as in Greece we had lazed in the shade by the beach and pool most of the time and here we were on the go and in the sun.
A Serbian woman living in Canada and travelling with her sister stopped to ask us for directions. She was delightful and had such a happy to be alive attitude. She said that she thought that I had the
same and that Tomas was lucky to be with me. (I liked her very much!!!!)
Others who were on their way up to the castle asked if we had seen any drinking fountains on our way down. It was now unbearably hot and there had been no water fountains. This was very unusual heat for this city. I was thankful that we had climbed early and were now heading downhill.
Crossing the river back to the old town we spent the next few hours exploring the Old Jewish quarter which Hitler had kept intact to preserve as a museum of an extinct race after exterminating its inhabitants
Stumbling back to home base about 5.30 pm after a very long day of walking we were in need of a good rest.
Monday, day five was the day that we "hit the wall" and for the next few days we just went for shorter outings and revisited areas that had been our favorite, or that we wanted to explore more extensively. We spent more time sitting in cafes and enjoying the interiors of the beautiful buildings.
I might mention that Prague appeared to offer every kind of museum
imaginable. Just about every thing had an admission fee, including public toilets. There were numerous ways of collecting the tourist's kronor. Prices were more reasonable as distances from the tourist centres increased. Beer was amazingly cheap. In most places it was cheaper than bottled water and this was traditionally because beer used to be safer to drink than water.
Tuesdays mission was to find an internet cafe to print our Ryan Air boarding passes. We had read horror stories of non EU residents flying without approved stamps on their printed boarding passes and being turned back at the boarding gate to miss their flight. We did this in the Old Town, exploring new alley ways along the way.
Wednesday, we revisited the beautiful gardens coming down from Petrin Hill. We discovered little lakes, waterfalls, rose gardens and numerous little areas each with their own theme
Thursday, we got an early start at 7am and revisited the John Lennon Wall without any tourists about as well as the Jewish Quarter, spending much of the rest of the day in our beautiful apartment with short, local outings to Andel, our local suburb.
Each time we went out we
took a new route and discovered new little alleyways, shops and gardens.
Slowing down also gave us a chance to get to know our hosts better, Filip and Daniella. I had been speaking French to Daniella and came to realize that her French was as bad and, if not worse, than mine and that had lead to some funny misunderstandings.
After a few restaurants on the first few days we were now eating in most of the time. Food both in the supermarket and restaurants was very cheap. For the Czech people Australia and New Zealand are very expensive countries.
Czech food is very heavy and meat orientated. We had such a lovely home base with great views and modern kitchen all to ourselves. Supermarkets were very local to where we lived and I found I could easily cook up fresh lovely food with plenty of variety. We bought, olives, yogurt, salami, sauerkraut, mushrooms, beetroot among other vegetables, salad and fruit, heavy breads, blue cheese and, of course, cakes, my favorite being those with cheese or poppy seeds.
On one of our walks a movie set was being set up along the river bank. We stopped to
watch for a while. Lighting was being hung from crane like contraptions coming out of apartment windows and the address post in front of the building had been covered and changed to read an address in Paris. No one would be the wiser as there was as much romance in Prague as you would find in Paris.
Housing is predominantly vertical, yet the apartments seem very generous with space. This leaves plenty of space for parkland areas. The gardens have had the advantage of having been lavishly created and developed over the centuries.
The Old Town dates back to the 9rh century and the New Town the 14rh century. These areas have protected the meticulous ornate detail of building facades and it is obvious that ugly billboards that usually appear in cities are strictly regulated showcasing the architecture as advertising for Prague's Beauty
Prague's public transport system services 1.3 million plus Tourists. It is very well developed. Busses, trains, trams and underground networks cover the city and suburbs.
On Friday, our last day, day 9, we purchased a day ticket to explore outside of the city.
The morning was spent bush walking in Divoka Sarka,
a natural area with rock escarpments, streams and a lake. It is a popular area on weekends but was fairly quiet on our Friday.
We also visited some of the suburbs, one was exclusive and beautiful with perfectly preserved buildings from centuries before and another an extensive area of very basic, ugly high rise housing blocks built in the communist era but had wonderful landscaped areas of green with lakes and cafes.
Late afternoon we visited the zoo and botanical gardens both of which were opposite each other. On departing the zoo, we made a mad dash for the bus as it was leaving. Tomas got on and I threw my backpack into the door planning to hold it open and follow but the door closed with my pack suspended in it and I was on the outside. The driver didn't see me as it was a double carriage bus and drove off. I raced to the next stop where Tomas had cleverly got out.
The day ended with a final trip up and down Petrin Hill's funicular before dinner and packing.
We had got a good feel for Prague and by Saturday it was time
to move on to our next adventure. To my surprise I felt satisfied with the time we had spent here and that all the boxes had been ticked and that we had also had time to relax.
The airport was an easy direct bus from Andel on Saturday morning. The only hiccup we encountered was that Tomas had to surrender his bottle of vodka at check in as it hadn't been bought duty free. He had only bought it because it had been so cheap so it was no great loss. I told him he should have stood there and drank it but some lucky bugger who works on security would be drinking cocktails Saturday night.
After seeing more of Prague I now realise how lucky we were to be located in such and exclusive area and location. Einstein had lived in our neighbouring apartment block in 1911 and 12 when he studied in the Prague Charles University. Our location influenced my reaction to the city and was certainly a contributor to why I fell in love with it.
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