Walk with me in Wenceslas Square
It’s a beautiful morning and I’m ready to enjoy the sunshine but maybe we’ll catch the tram and save our legs for later?
I have my day ticket to hand and ever mindful of the young man the other day, I left the previous tickets back in my journal so there’d be no confusion. A day ticket like this is great value at just over £3 for unlimited, hassle-free travel on trams, buses or metro.
Catching a tram is easy too, with all the information at the stop, including the real-time arrival times. We’ll catch the 17 to begin with and there’ll be one along in just a couple of minutes.
There are interesting buildings to look at, even whilst standing idle at the tram stop, but I must concentrate…
because here it comes.
First thing I need to do is to validate my ticket by swiping it through the machine by the tram door. This is a one-off procedure and having date-stamped it, I’ll put it away unless asked to show it by an inspector.
We need to change trams at the National Theatre, just a couple of stops along the river bank. There’s a fine view of the castle and St Vitus’ cathedral from here but I’m more concerned about finding the next tram stop, which I think is around the corner.
Sadly, most of the spectacular National Theatre is hidden behind this modern office block, but maybe I’ll have chance to get a better look later. Anyway, the #9 tram is approaching and I haven’t time to fiddle about trying to get a better view now!
The modern trams have clear information on board too, with screens showing the next stop and the remainder of the route. Such information is comforting when in a strange city – no excuses for getting lost!
Soon, we are in Wenceslas Square, or Václavské náměstí as the tram stop is labelled. As soon as I get off the tram and look up, I spy the Hotel Europa and know I’m in the right place.
Time to walk, then!
I decide to walk up this side of the street to the monument, before crossing over and returning down the other side. It’s easier to view the architecture on the opposite side of the street of course, from a short distance away.
I’m immediately struck by a familiar typeface outside this shop though. Recognise it?
Perhaps we’ll keep on walking?
The bright sunshine makes a walk like this all the more pleasant. I’m not in a hurry, can meander in and out of shops as I please and there are interesting things to look at and notice all around me.
Wenceslas Square isn’t square at all, but a broad avenue with a wide central reservation. Here, there’s a couple of old trams set up as a pavement cafe with flowerpots looking lovely in the sunshine. Maybe we’ll have a stop there on the way back?
I notice that even the more modern buildings have small architectural features which acknowledge those of an earlier age, though.
Please, remind me frequently to look up, though! (I forget) At ground floor level this looks like a perfectly ordinary bank.
When planning my days here in Prague, I’d every intention of spending a good part in galleries and museums, but have been thwarted by renovations. The National Museum, here at the end of the square is undergoing a lengthy rebuilding and as I approach it, I can see why it’s taking so long! There in front of it is the statue of St Wenceslas but with the sun high in the sky behind it, it’s going to prove tricky to capture the details.
Never mind, I’ll wander around, squint into the sunshine and do my best to see what’s what. Maybe you smiled as I did, when I thought “I’ll google it later”
Crossing over to the other side of the road, then, I spot something interesting. Coming in with me?
Whilst here, I’ve been keeping an eye on the cute shoes and thinking that I could use a summery replacement for my trusty red pair. Maybe there’s something here?
They are not expensive and are there to try…
Sorry if I’m boring you! (At this point my Hero would have wandered off or be sitting playing a game on his phone…)
OK, narrowing it down…pink or gold? Gold! (I’ve seen a pink pair elsewhere )
I’ll just check there isn’t another pair I like…
On this side of the boulevard, there’s considerable construction going on.
Remembering to look up then (thank you for the reminder!) I notice the lime trees which border the roadside. “The National Tree of Prague”, I think.
I stop to take a photograph of the man painstakingly painting the white lines of a Zebra crossing and as I do, I notice the group over in the central reservation.
All those irritations are there: selfie sticks, posers, ipad photographers… I steer clear of them but nevertheless wish to take a look at that very spot.
Because here are some rather comfortable benches on which to take a breather and each one has a quotation upon it. No way of taking a photograph without the shadow, I’m afraid, and I think Pasternak’s words are better paraphrased as “Life’s not a rehearsal”, but you get the drift.
Let’s sit a few moments and watch the folks around here.
The reason that this small area is causing a stir is because of a rather lovely bed of tulips which are in full bloom and looking gorgeous.
So when a young woman wearing a white dress approaches from the far end, I wonder what she plans…
because I have a sneaky suspicion
She finds a spot amongst the flowers and stands looking around for a while before getting out her phone.
and begins to take photographs. Meanwhile, a man approaches her and asks if she would like him to take her photograph?
She declines, but in the next few minutes, this happens:
He’s giving her exacting instructions about wanting a landscape shot – I can see his gestures from where I’m sitting and am finding the whole affair pretty amusing! (Which is why my camera is clicking away…not that it makes a sound at all!)
As soon as he’s gone, she returns to the job in hand and gets out her selfie stick.
Ten minutes later, she’s still there, rearranging her jewellery, primping her hair and showing off her sparkly bracelet, ring and earrings.
Fifteen minutes on and we’ve posed crouching amongst the tulips, taken photographs from left and right and generally tried everything in the book. Just when I’m thinking I could enjoy a drink, she puts her phone and selfie stick in her bag and off she goes. Mission accomplished.
The tulips are spectacular though!
I continue along the central reservation and walk through this photographic exhibit, because the tram cafe is in sight.
There are more benches and more thoughts to ponder upon them.
Before I sit down, I remember to look up, too. I’m more or less where I started here, across from Marks and Spencers.
The other side of the road has an equally interesting skyline.
Anyway, I choose a table and sit down. What could be better?
(were you thinking as I was thinking?)
On a beautiful sunny day, sitting here with a cold beer in hand, it’s hard to think about moving on. But temptation is there on the next street corner in the form of Sephora…
Before I go though, I take a closer look at the windows of the Marks and Spencer building.
and the bookshop next door isn’t so shabby either.
Next time I come to Prague, I need to bring along a pair of small binoculars to be able to see those details more closely!
On my way again, I pass another familiar name. Debenhams are offering “buy 2 get 1 free” on most of their stock. I wonder if they are closing here too?
Sephora is the usual fun place but I don’t find anything to tempt me, especially not these Korean face masks which look positively scary!
I browse around another department store, noticing a distinct trend for pink sparkle here. Though the shop is named Van Graaf, my phone tries to connect to Peek and Cloppenburg’s wifi (a brand we know from our German visits) A quick google confirms my suspicions. Shopping in Europe is pretty homogenised isn’t it?
Anyway, enough shopping! I came out to explore the architecture, really. By now, though, I’ve reached the end of Wenceslas Square and have a choice. Shall I turn right and walk along Na Prikope towards the Powder Tower and the Municipal House, where I was yesterday, or shall I turn back and “do” the last quarter of the Square?
Hmm. Mindful of the pink shoes I spotted yesterday (!) I decide to stroll along the pedestrian zone and turn right. Are you with me?
There are more grand buildings along here, too, and I wish I’d researched the area a little better so I knew what to look out for. Never mind, I’m happy strolling along in the sunshine, just looking and enjoying.
There’s always time for a closer look, of course.
And there’s always a reward for when I make the effort!
Another German favourite, DM is here as well. I pop inside in the hope of finding our favourite bath salts but draw a blank. Never mind. I still have some at home and will eke them out until we are next in Germany in the Autumn.
Besides, there are more riches to view above me.
My goodness. On a clear day like this, with the light just right, those colours are amazing.
I can’t see if they are mosaics or painted, but regardless of that, they are magnificent.
There’s almost too much detail to take in.
I love it!
By now, I’m almost at the Municipal House. There’s the old Powder Tower beside it. I think of the shoes and wonder if I can be bothered to go and take another look at them (I’d rejected them yesterday as being “not my colour”, but having seen so much pink, I was coming around to the idea!)
I don’t think those are a possibility!
But these are rather cute…
Whilst I decide, I’ll sit in the sunshine a while and enjoy the passing entertainment. An Aperol Spritz would go down well…except this one has no spritz whatsoever. I call the waiter and ask him to replace it.
He leaves the dead one there and apologises profusely when he returns with another, explaining that he personally supervised the making of this replacement. Shall I tell him it’s no better than the first or just chalk it up to experience?
Yes, I agree. Cheers!
At least there’s a fine view of the beautiful interior through the open window in addition to the great people watching outside. It’s fun eavesdropping (unintentionally) on the conversation of the three ladies from Huddersfield too, isn’t it?.
Thank you for the encouragement to nip into the shopping centre and buy those shoes! Now, though, I think it’s time to hop on a tram and head back to the hotel.
But, shall we take the riverside route?
Let’s change trams here, by the Fred and Ginger building, shall we? One of Frank Gehry’s designs, the Dancing House is an hotel, a gallery, a bar and…well, a bit of a landmark along here.
At this point, I’m taking us on a wild goose chase, to go there and back again just for the fun of it. The #17 tram travels the length of the river and rather than simply take the three stops back, shall we hop on one going in the other direction, just to see where it takes us?
The beauty of a day pass means we can travel beyond the city centre, out into the suburbs and just sit gazing out of the window. Though it’s leafy green around the riverside, there are an abundance of soulless apartment blocks in the other direction.
But still less than half an hour from the city centre by direct tram link, it’s pretty convenient here, isn’t it? But did you hear those words na znamení? Do you know what it means? No, neither do I.
This tram stop is adjacent to a suburban train station too, and I rather like the way the passengers are silhouetted against the blue sky. But that na znamení business is bothering me a bit and I need to find out what it means.
Thankfully, there on the stop it’s translated into English: Request Stop. Hah! A good job I spotted that otherwise we might still have been standing there!
Thank you for sticking out your leg and persuading the driver to stop
It takes all of fifteen minutes to be back in the city – I think we’ve earned an hour in the spa, don’t you?