Saturday 25 August 2012

Prague Pleasantries

Long had I dreamed of seeing the beautiful city of Prague, loved and gushed over by so many of my travelling friends in the past. It really was a pity we couldn't stay long.

We appreciated the speed of the tilting ICT train from Berlin to Prague, if only to maximize our time in this city, but it was still an almost seven hour journey. We had now left the Eurozone, so we stocked up on a couple of days worth of Czech korunas, before checking into a surprisingly roomy hotel room with huge sunny bay windows, which I immediately had the urge to throw open. Our laundry was also overdue (when your Icebreakers are starting to odourise, you know it's time), and while hand-laundering meant that most of our clothes were still holding up after eight months of repetitive wear (if one ignored the occasional holes where our backpacks clipped them), it meant learning to capitalise on roomy places to dry them. So we settled ourselves in for an early afternoon of domestics beneath the billow of long flowing curtains in the summer breeze, with the sounds of yet another city floating in from below.

We satisfied our local food cravings at Lokal, a busy restaurant very popular with the young tourists of the season.

Lokal Restaurant - Prague
At one end of this low-vaulted eating hall we were denied a table, the service staff insisting that they were full; however at the entrance to the other end of this same hall, we were seated straight away. They made up for this strange behaviour with some great value modern and traditional Czech dishes, tasty beer and a mildly convivial atmosphere.

Crispy Carp. Perhaps one way of dealing with the freshwater pests in Australia - Lokal Restaurant, Prague
The beautiful late afternoon beckoned a wander through Staroměstské Náměstí (Old Town Square) where we joined an hourly crowd gathering to watch the spectacle of a 15th century astronomical clock ring it's bells and spin it's suite of apostles.

Staroměstské Náměstí (Old Town Square) - Prague
Our guidebook suggested a dawn visit to Karlův most (Charles Bridge) to avoid tourist crowds, which suited us just fine. The rain accompanying our early start probably also assisted in keeping the hordes at bay, and we shared the romantic singing-in-the-rain moment with only one other couple, before the sogginess got to us as well and we went back to the hotel for a further snooze.

Love Padlocks on Karlův most (Charles Bridge) - Prague
Love Padlocks on Karlův most (Charles Bridge) - Prague
Thankfully, the day cleared up as it progressed and we managed a good sized walking tour of the city. We explored the grand old grounds of Pražský hrad (Prague Castle), …

The high vaulted ceiling of the Katedrala sv Víta (St Vitus Cathedral) within Pražský hrad (Prague Castle)
… wandered through the only slightly newer vibes of Nové Město (New Town) to sup on hearty goulash with Czech Budweisers at a smoke-filled local, …

Beef Goulash with Czech dumplings - Prague
… and enjoyed awesome views of the city, beverage in hand, from a beer garden north of the Vltava River.

Patting the Dog. Karlův most (Charles Bridge) - Prague
View East from Karlův most (Charles Bridge) towards Staroměstské Náměstí (Old Town Square) - Prague
A celebration of all the nice bits of central European architecture, our only disappointment was that we really only had one day to appreciate this pretty town. Děkuji Prague!

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