Here we are
My red shoes and I are in Prague for a few days, tagging along with my hero, who is involved in an interesting project. We took a (very) early flight this morning and were here well before lunch, ready to rediscover a city we last explored 17 years ago, in 2000. We weren’t really planning on sightseeing as such, but thought we’d simply get our bearings and orient ourselves until our room was ready this afternoon.
Well, from the minute we turned the corner from the hotel entrance, there was one aspect of the city that we did not anticipate.
Hundreds, no, thousands of them! Young and old, in large groups and small groups and speaking every language imaginable.
Since we were last here, the river cruise business has soared and many of these groups were following guides bearing the names of companies we recognised.
Had we imagined Prague to be as busy as this? Not at all! Though we travel quite a lot, we tend to avoid honeypots in high season and simply had not considered a Monday in early May to fall into that category. We felt pleased that we had not come here with a list of things we wanted to see and do, because after a while, it would surely become irritating!
I know, you’d be surprised how irritated I can be by the simplest of things
I mean, in that one moment above, there are three of my bêtes noires: selfie sticks, ipad photography and those blooming locks on a bridge! Oh dear, Prague, is this how things will be?
We stood there on the Charles Bridge and watched people for a while. Busier that Skegness on a summer weekend, we were just going to have to go with the flow. Take it how it is and deal with it!
So we made our way into the old town square, where we had thoughts of sitting with a cold beer and maybe a bite to eat. After all, we’d been up since 4.15am this morning.
A rather lovely distraction presented itself in the form of Manufaktura, a sweet-smelling shop with a charming range of toiletries and hand made items such as these Easter eggs.
We browsed a while, noting that although there were crowded streets, the sightseeing groups passed right on by. We enjoyed this little haven of peace, then!
As we left and continued walking, we tried to recall the name of another, similar shop we remembered from here – or was it Budapest? Was it called Botanicus?
There was also the distraction of someone’s shoes. Worn by a Chinese girl, for some reason the style and proportions of this pair made me think of bound feet. I must say, they didn’t look at all comfortable!
On the way to our planned lunchtime stop, we passed the Astronomical clock and, thinking there was an even larger than expected crowd standing, looking up at it, we noted it was 12 noon.
So we joined the crowd, ever aware that this must be prime pickpocket territory.
We watched as the little men popped out and popped back in again, as hundreds of pictures were taken on a variety of devices – my own included – and shuffled off in the direction of the square itself.
Don’t you love it? (No, we don’t, either)
Our reward came in a cafe in the square; another place the groups just walk on by. Not only was the beer good but the people watching was pretty entertaining too!
Until the heavens opened…
Thankfully, it didn’t last long, but two or three really heavy downpours sent everyone running for shelter, including the gold-painted men, the various buskers, postcard sellers and yes, even Death himself.
Because one of the “living statues” (irritant #4 !) had been dressed as Death, in black and holding a scythe. When the rain began, he packed up sharpish and carrying his scythe across the square, off he went.
We sat and watched for an hour or so, as the rain cleared and people came back out. Three gold men returned and stood on their boxes (Grrrrr) , one blue man did the same and
the bubble man came back! Who doesn’t love a bubble?!
We carried on a little further too, giving ourselves a pat on the back for timing that cafe stop so well (neither of us had a coat nor an umbrella to hand) and thought we’d just go a little further before turning back towards the hotel, by which time our room would be ready.
So, that’s what we did. Walk and admire.
Coming back, we chose to use the smaller streets which were quieter and less touristy.
We walked through a small square and the name painted on the building seemed familiar: Botanicus. Well, how strange was that?
Turning the corner, there was the sign of another Czech favourite brand: Koh i Noor pencils. I’ll explore Botanicus first, I said.
Oooh. a huge group of Chinese tourists (I think) were inside, creating a real racket and filling the shop, making it difficult to look around.
They were buying huge numbers of goods too.
Those who were not in Botanicus were in Koh i Noor…
Or in the shop next door to that, a glass workshop
with some very interesting pieces
There was some serious shopping going on all around here and if these groups are typical, then these shopkeepers are onto a winner, that’s for sure.
For us though, enough. The cool, calm serenity of our hotel beckoned and a text alerted us to the fact that our room was ready.
I can vouch for the comfort of this little chair!