Prague: music & culture, good food and fancy old buildings, oh and Pilsner.

Prague is a small busy city, capital of Czechia. In a nutshell: it's music & culture, good food and fancy old buildings, oh and of course Pilsner beer. It was a good choice to start our trip.
Beer is cheaper than coke, water, coffee and so forth. The beer tastes good with my favourite being - Pilsner Urquell. Surprisingly the Czechs don't go round rolling drunk,  perhaps price is relative to income or their culture is a bit different ours. One per day was my limit, and I think a kilo or two was gained in the process.


Aside from the amber fluid, the food is generally very good and cheap compared to the rest of the countries we visited on this trip.


Staying in a tidy apartment in a suburb close to the city, we spent five great days enjoying Prague. We had no need for a car. Travel is easy with the trams and there are plenty of bicycle paths to travel on rather than cars.


What did we enjoy in Prague ? We crammed a lot in with:
  • Cycle tour
  • Traditional dancing.
  • A dinner Mozart recital
  • Just walking round the city
  • An opera in the Opera house.
  • Getting lost on the trams.
  • Dining.

Cycle tour

Cycling was a good way to get to know Prague city. We were pleased with the  2 1/2 hour tour run by Praha bikes. They had radios for us so we didn't get lost and could hear what was being said. It was at an easy pace with plenty of stops so everyone could keep up.

In the square there was a public display of protest against Russia and its bully boy tactics with Ukraine.

Music is big here.  Antonín Dvořák being a Czech composer has a statue all to himself. 
At the concert hall there quite a few composers on the roof
We were told this story. "During the Nazi occupation, the German seat of power in Prague was the concert hall, a beautiful building with statues of famous composers adorning the roof. Heydrich ordered that the statue of Mendolssohn, a Jew by birth, be removed. The workmen he sent up had no idea who Mendolssohn was as all of the statues were unlabeled so they removed the statue which appeared to have the largest nose, which transpired was actually Wagner, the anti-semite German who was Hitler's favourite composer."
Statues are all over this city. On the other side of the river is a modern sculptor who likes to create provocative ones.

When is it OK to commit a crime ? - when it is not a crime. Caroline scrambles for the opportunity and is at it with a bit of tagging on a public graffiti wall. Peace and love to all.


Traditional dancing

To be honest, it was not my cup of tea going to a traditional dance evening at the Folklore Garden venue. Perhaps I was a bit tired so soon after getting off the plane - you know: morning is night or night is morning - or perhaps I did not like being crammed in on a bench table being exhorted to drink poor quality wine and beer and eat fairly ordinary food.  Not in the right frame of mind I guess. Other than that the dancing and entertainment was fun.


An opera in the Opera house.

How lucky are we ? We managed to get a booking in Prague's historic opera house. What a fabulous venue with all its glitz and olde worlde appeal. The opera we saw was Carmen with a world war interpretation - not quite to my liking (I prefer period costumes) , but well done nether-the-less.


My own cycle tour - off to see a castle.

In Europe cycling is a big thing. Prague is not excepted and has its share of cycle-ways.  I hired a bicycle and rode  to Karlstejn castle and in the meantime Caroline went on a Viator tour to the Prague Castle  overlooking the city.
"Visit Prague Castle and learn about the history behind the enormous fortress. Explore the biggest ancient castle in the world and Castle District. Discover monasteries, palaces and breweries and enjoy stunning panoramic views of Prague's Castle District See St.George’s Basilica, St. Vitus Cathedral, the famous castle guards and more Enjoy a tram ride from UNESCO-listed Old Town Square to the top of Prague's Castle District."
Walking at night the city is illuminated, I do not miss this perspective of Prague Castle:
Caroline thoroughly enjoyed her tour and I loved getting out in the country and getting the blood flowing with a big ride to "my" castle. (especially when it came to that last punch up the hill to the castle itself !)
The ride to the castle is predominated by riverside valley scenery. Flowers and pretty villages most of the way.  
Coming back I went on the other side of the river and managed to reach a dead end on a strip of land that was cut by the river. Being rather tired, I was a annoyed at the prospect of having to backtrack a few km; when a public ferry stop came to the rescue !


An added bonus was that my tram ticket could also be used on the ferry.


A dinner Mozart recital

The Boccaccio Hall has been restored to its entire 1925 splendor. In 1993, the reconstruction started to bring back the best times of the Boccaccio. Artificial marble was restored, all wall decorations and paintings were recovered and newly gilded, statues of little cupids, hanging music instruments or arrows of love just under the ceiling were carefully reconstructed, mirrors and light fixtures replaced.
This was a fun evening of culture. We dressed up in our finery, enjoyed a good meal and a high standard of music and singing recitals.

Just walking round the city

There is so much vibrancy to this city especially in the summer. There are lots of things to see, lots of people and of course shops. 
We managed to cross the famous Charles bridge adorned with statues and serving as a base for high quality buskers avoiding the famed big crowds by going in the morning.
But a quiet crossing of Charles bridge on a summer's day does not mean it's empty.
The UNESCO listed town square is also particularly busy, but we braved the throngs as Caroline wanted to revisit some areas that she covered on her tour.
Along with the strong emphasis of the great music composers, there are reminders of the macabre past. Things have not changed have they ?
On our ramble we popped on a river cruise and was glad to take in the sights from a different perspective. I loved going through the locks


Rather like my home city of Melbourne, the tram network is extensive. Once you get the hang of it, it is relatively straightforward to find your way around. The trams run quite frequently so waiting time is minimal.  With the Sejf app (see the dpp web site) on the mobile phone there was no complexity with tickets.


The food standards in Prague are generally very good. We liked the most of the traditional foods
We found a nice place which looked like you were eating in a library.

Even fast foods were acceptable, except you can keep the doughnut cone, which I summarily threw in the bin after one bite due to its excessive everything.


We found the people of Prague quite friendly, their English is excellent considering it is a second language. Kids are polite, always offering Caroline a seat on the tram (not me of course !) .  Using Vodafone on their set rate plan, we had mobile services using our existing accounts.

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