After that treacherous descent down Petřín Hill we got to reap our reward – no ascent to the Castle! Well, except for a short bit of about 50m of a steep incline up to a monastery, but from there it was a breeze of a gently sloping downhill walk towards the Castle. Recommended!
It was 11.45 when we came near the general area of the Castle and happened upon this procession of guardsmen getting ready for Changing of the Guards:
This explained why the Castle had become Tourist Magnet all of a sudden! We went to have a look too but it was mostly one big mass of tourists wildly snapping into the air, not my kind of thing …
We didn’t go inside the Castle, seeing how it wasn’t a fortress (the kind of castles we like) and we thought admission was overpriced: 250 CZK or 10 EUR for the “short visit”. But we walked through the courtyards to St Vitus Cathedral which you can access for free but you can’t walk very far inside before you have to show a ticket.
Even if you don’t go inside the Castle buildings there is plenty to explore on Castle grounds, and we strolled from the Cathedral past an alidade, more beautiful buildings and an outer walkway with spectacular views over Kleinseite, Vltava/Moldau and Prague in general. We were *so* lucky with the weather too, it was February after all! It could’ve been sleeting, snowing, freezing all week-end …
From there we walked the loooong castle steps down to river level and then roughly along the river to get to Charles Bridge. By then we were on the prowl for lunch as well, no wonder after three hours of walking … We didn’t find anything but very smoky restaurants offering *very* Czech cuisine (knee of pork with spongy dumplings anyone?), so we walked on and across Charles Bridge:
Back in the Old Town we concentrated on finding a lunch place. We had vague plans to find a Jewish restaurant “behind the Spanish synagogue” that Nadine had read about but after looking around the Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock we decided to lunch at one of the many places there. What we found was an Italian restaurant, Caffe Italia, in a stunning vaulted cellar! We definitely paid a premium for lunching in such a scenic (and central!) place but it was well worth it. Fantastic atmosphere! And well, at 40 EUR for 2-course lunch and drinks for two it was hardly worse than eating out in Amsterdam …
Still more to come…
I had a gorgeous, fantastic time in Prague last week-end! It was so good to meet up with my dear friend Nadine who I hadn’t seen since I left Holland in August – Skype is great and a fantastic tool but nothing beats a girlie week-end!
This was my third trip to Prague after the day trip with Mam to the Ministry of the Interior in November and a day trip with a youth organisation in summer, eh let me think, 1993. I’d never spent more than a couple of hours there but I’d seen the main sights and was keen to find something new for me to see this time as well. The night before I browsed around TripAdvisor for things to see and came upon the Petřín Lookout Tower. It is situated on a hill on Kleinseite, the left bank of the Vltava, same as where the Castle is. I read it offered a fun trip up (taking a funicular), amazing views from the tower’s panorama platform and then possibly a *descent* to the castle instead of the usual tourist shlep *up* from Charles’ Bridge!
From our hotel (this one, we liked it, and it was excellent value for money) we walked about 15 minutes (to the river and across) to the lowest station of the funicular. Passing the memorial to the victims of Communism.
“The memorial to the victims of Communism is dedicated to all victims, not only those who were jailed or executed but also those whose lives were ruined by totalitarian despotism.”
The funicular railway. Using it is included in the daily public transport ticket you can buy for 100 CZK. It’s a very fun and different mode of transport!! The kids in our cabin were all squealing with delight. Czech kids btw, just like the rest of the people on the funicular and later in the tower – we didn’t see any international tourists there. Maybe just like me they’d never heard of it before?!
The Lookout Tower! Lovely Victorian architecture! You shouldn’t suffer from vertigo, though, especially if you’re up on the (encased, closed) panorama platform when it’s windy … It swayed!
Entry is 100 CZK plus 50 CZK for the lift – or 209 steps up. We took the lift up (we were taken up by a guy in Victorian costume) and walked down. The views from the top were AMAZING! So worth it!!
I’d read on TripAdvisor that the descent was quite steep but I didn’t think too much of that. I should have! Oy! Not only was it steep, in our case it was covered in patchy ice! We slid our way down, holding on to whatever we could grab – initially, though, it was a dirt road with crass abysses on either side and no rails or fences … We were glad once we got to this walled part as we could then hold on and slide sideways … We arrived whole and uninjured but with trembling legs and drenched in sweat. In retrospect I’d have taken the funicular down to the middle station and walked from there!
So much for Part 1, a lot more to come!
Larger versions of all photos available by clicking on them!
After the weekly knitting meeting at Cafe Maia I’ll be off to Prague in the afternoon to meet up with a dear friend from Amsterdam for the week-end! I can’t wait, I haven’t seen her since August, and Skype is fantastic but just not the same as hanging out together!
So stay tuned for lots of photos …
Flotsam. Things that drift ashore in my new life here.
Like these ancient glasses. Oy, that frame! Pink plastic? So 80s but I think I must’ve worn them into the 90s? But it was a good reminder that I need to get to an optician to have new glasses made. I love my current “frame” (it’s made from air and engineering!) but I need a new prescription. And the frame is getting old, worryingly old. Without a spare pair I hope I’ll get new ones before mine die a tragic death one of these days …
And then this cutie here, one of the first knitted FOs, ca. 1984! A bit moth-eaten, smelling like the decades of basement storage that it’s had, so this photo is all that will remain. RIP snakey!