Beating them–or joining them?
Today was the day we’d set aside to explore the city together. Tomorrow, my Hero will be in the recording studio with Tra and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and I will be making my own entertainment. But following our experience yesterday afternoon, we decided to head for a lesser known area in the hope of avoiding the large groups which annoy us both.
The first challenge was to buy tram/bus/metro tickets. The machines took only coins and we knew we didn’t have enough for that. But neither could we find the “3 day pass” on the list of options.
The office at the station was closed and the newspaper stand couldn’t have made their position clearer. So, we returned to the hotel, found the answer to our question (buy the tickets in a Tabac, which I might have guessed had I not seen the notice above) and returned to the small store adjacent to the station to make our purchases.
Negotiating our way through the tourists yet again (!) we finally made it to the tram stop.
At last, we were on our way, heading for the Little Quarter.
Had we achieved our ambition to find a quieter part of the city? Well, generally speaking, yes.
Though they were never far away
So, what will I find to irritate me today, then? Well, as we strolled along this quiet street, a young couple were posing for pictures as their friend snapped away on the pavement opposite. This needed two or three takes… (oh, for heaven’s sake!)
They repeated the exercise, posing by a signpost for their camera-toting friend. So I’ll add irritation #4 to my little list as “people who pose for photographs in public places”
Mary Valentine, you know me too well I stepped around the couple, doing my best not to photobomb their shot (however tempting) to stand by another bridge encrusted with rubbish (!) to take my own photograph of the water wheel down there.
A little further on was a pleasant, leafy boulevard, where a series of boards had been placed, telling the story of Prague (in Czech and in English too)
They were based upon interesting themes and offered a wealth of information.
We continued browsing the neighbourhood, broadly following the route in our guidebook and thankfully, finding ourselves untroubled by anyone else.
Our guidebook was correct, this was an attractive and historic part of the city and all the better for being overshadowed by the big “must see” attractions. Though several smart hotels are on this side of the river, including a couple we considered, I’m pleased we didn’t allow ourselves to be tempted and consider our location to be perfect!
Pottering about is a good way to spend the morning and both pairs of feet (and knees) were suggesting a break.
But around each corner was another pleasing view,
an attractive street sign,
or a particularly cute doorway. Good to know that the Three Kings stopped at this house on their way through.
We passed another Koh i Noor shop, this time one selling the full range of goodies and well worth ten minutes (or more). Here I encountered #5: two women who, wherever I stood, whichever pencil I wanted to try, they wanted to be right there too: In my pocket if they could. Just when I was beginning to think it was just me, whilst paying for my purchases they stood in between the sales assistant and me, meaning he had to say “excuse me” to hand me my change.
What is it about these people!? (or is it just me?)
We continued down the street, keeping an eye out for a likely coffee stop and admiring interesting shop fronts as we went.
Being the main walking route to the castle, several groups passed us by. I couldn’t resist taking a slightly sneaky snap of this young woman though – I mean, who can’t love someone who carries a panda with her?
Soon, we found ourselves in the main square of the area, where surely we could find somewhere a little more authentic than Starbucks?
Making our way over to a small but busy cafe, I spotted this chap leaving a few books on top of the postbox.
Later, after our break and whilst waiting for our tram, we noticed these two women – were they looking at the books or posting a letter?
It was definitely time to catch the tram, though!
We’ve found them to be frequent, reliable and very convenient and didn’t hesitate to save ourselves the bother of walking uphill to the castle.
Once there, it looked like we’d beaten the crowds at last.
But they weren’t far behind!
So I took a quick snap of the guardsman, just before every man and his dog stood beside him for their photograph!
The castle yards were spacious enough to allow for everyone. Even the large groups dispersed somewhat and we enjoyed following the suggested route around the site at our own pace.
Of course, some places were exceptionally crowded, like inside St Vitus’ cathedral, where we had no choice but to join the throng and peer over everyone’s head.
Thankfully, the most spectacular sights were above head level: the stained glass windows are so colourful and photogenic, it really didn’t matter how many people were standing beneath them.
Back out in the yard, then, where someone needed confirmation that his sunglasses look ok.
Another incidence of #5 too (at least three takes whilst we stood, waiting to pass by and make our way over to the doorway known as the Golden Gate)
The exterior of the cathedral was equally interesting and a couple of large information boards pointed out features we might otherwise have missed.
Such as the exterior staircase to the side of the Golden Gate. Fascinating.
One thing on our list to do whilst here was to find “the view”, so having seen what there was to see inside the castle, we made our way out through the gateway, encountering the changing of the guard as we went.
I managed to get the flag shot from this side, too.
And no, this isn’t another version of #5 either, because posing for a photograph in pubic whilst dressed in silly clothes gives us all amusement, wouldn’t you say?
Mind you, dressing up especially to pose for photographs in public places? Definitely irritating!
Anyway, here’s the spot for the view… or rather, on the terrace just to the right of here, without that tree in the way. It’s part of Starbucks, where a sign invites everyone to “share our view”.
Yes, that’s the spot – just where Madame is posing for her photograph. Aaaagh.
I’ll move along a little further. We can still see our hotel and the Charles Bridge is just visible to the side of the dome of St Nicholas’ church. I take a photo or two…or twenty…and we move on.
Have i mentioned how annoying it is when people park brightly coloured vans alongside the beautiful lamp I want to photograph? # 6 then.
Of course, however many irritations there are throughout the day, none of them is enough to spoil our fun! As we return to the hotel on the tram, two inspectors board and do a random check of tickets. The young man in the blue hoodie in front of us struggles to find his ticket and the persistent inspector is not allowing any leeway, standing over him as he produces yesterday’s ticket, one from the day before…and phew, one with today’s date validated. I made a mental note to leave today’s ticket behind before validating one for tomorrow!
Back at the hotel, I headed for a relaxing hour at the spa pool.
As I did, I had a lovely view of where we’d spent the day. I wonder who was posing on the Starbucks wall right now?