This post is a continuation of a series of posts documenting our travels through a small part of Central Europe. We had enjoyed the palaces and gardens of Munich, the snow and heights of the Austrian Alps in Kaprun, listened to Mozart’s compositions being played in a palace in Salzburg and been thoroughly charmed by the medieval beauty of Cesky Krumlov. But inspite of all these amazing experiences I expected Prague to be the best part of the trip, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
On our first day we had explored the main tourist drag from old town to Charles bridge at its crowded worst. Then to escape the crowds we had gone to the top of the Charles bridge tower and inside the Vrtba gardens. (Prague, Part 1 – Trying to avoid the crowds of the Golden City of Spires!). So I woke up super early the next morning (Adrenaline wakes me up very early when I’m excited!) to see the Old town square (hopefully cleared of the Marathon railings) and the Charles bridge before the crowds arrived.
I woke up at around 5.30 am, freshened up and left without making any noise to allow the better half to catch an hour or two of sleep more. As it was May it was already quite bright by the the time I was out & about. I had my fingers and toes crossed as I approached old town square.
While it wasn’t totally cleared, most of the railings and hoardings were gone. More importantly it was totally empty. Softly lit by the early morning sunlight the square was impressive, I could see what the fuss was all about. It rivalled the best Old town squares in Italy. ( Though Piazza del Campo at Siena still is the best for me!)
I walked around the square with a few other crazy people who were up and about with their cameras and a couple of drunks staggering around but not menacingly! The square is a 360 degree photo opportunity. The Jan Hus monument at one end, the iconic twin towers of the Tyn Church in the centre and the town hall at the other end. It is a photographers dream come true, especially when its empty and softly lit like it was that morning.
Sadly the famous Astronomical Clock was boarded up for restoration. It was replaced by a screen showing a projection of the clock as a compensation. Well it gives us a reason to return to Prague some day. ( In reality I don’t need one! Prague deserves a repeat.)
After taking my fill of photos of the centre piece square of Prague I moved on towards the other tourist magnet that is, the Charles Bridge. As I moved towards the usually crowded Karlova street that connects Old town square to Charles bridge, it was totally unrecognisable from the previous day.
The streets were empty, the cafes were taking in supplies for the day and the only things giving me company were the omnipresent pigeons. Every corner looked so grand and elegant with the art nouveau buildings and narrow cobble stone streets that I took 20 photos where I had taken none the previous evening.
I got so engrossed in taking photos that I missed the turn towards Charles bridge and landed up on the river some distance away from the bridge itself. Not that I was complaining! I got the chance to click a photo with the sun lighting up the far side of the river in golden sunshine.
Then I walked along the river and reached the Charles bridge. Even this early in the morning it wasn’t completely empty. There were people on their morning walk ( what a place to start their day!), couples from Asia doing a wedding shoot ( new trend I have observed this time!) and crazy tourists like me armed with their SLRs.
But it wasn’t the crushing crowd of mid day consisting of people armed with their selfie sticks or zombie like tour groups walking around in a daze. It made for some pleasing photos of the otherwise nauseatingly packed bridge.
I walked up the bridge and took some photos of the statues lining in with the amazing backdrop of the castle behind.
There were some trees in bloom right at the edge of the bridge providing a great contrast to the statues and the bridge itself. All the misery that I felt on the bridge the previous evening was long gone. I was like a kid in a candy shop clicking away to glory.
I had one eye on the time now because it would take me a good 20 -25 mins to walk back to the hotel with some stops for photos. The reason for the hurry was that we planned to reach the St Vitus Cathedral at the Castle before it opens so that I get some good uncrowded photos of the cathedral. So I decided to go back from here rather than risk having my St Vitus experience spoiled by the group bus crowds.
With some more photos of the bridge and the old town end tower from the other end I started my walk back to the hotel where the better half and a hot breakfast waited!
In my hurry to get to the bridge I had completely ignored the beautiful St Salvator Church and the Klementium at the edge of Old town. So I stopped and took a few photos before I scampered on.
I couldn’t afford to get lost now as I was running behind the time limit I had set for myself for this morning walk. So I paid more attention to the street signs and took the shortest way back.
Even though I was in a hurry the much photographed fork in the street at Karlova that I had missed in the morning was ahead. I stopped to take a photo or two. Thats when I heard a commotion. A drunk was chasing a lady, asking for money for the photos she had taken of him in perfect English! Lesson to be learnt – Never take photos of people without their permission or risk being chased down the street for cash! Thankfully the drunk gave up and the lady hopefully learnt her lesson.
I returned back to Old town square where I had taken a plethora of photos in the morning. Nonetheless I still took a few more before returning back to the Hotel Hastal.
When I reached our room the as usual punctual better half was ready and waiting for me to return so that we could have breakfast.
We then went down to the Cafe and had a delicious & filling breakfast. The hotel had great selection of home made cakes and croissants (the best of this trip!) with the usual spread of eggs, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, baked veggies and sausages that would keep the tummy satiated since we had a long day of sight seeing ahead.
We would head off towards the Castle which was the next item on the agenda. But that is topic for another post , another time.
PS – I have to thank the “Honest Guide” on You Tube for the amazing early morning walk. It was one of the many suggestions of his that I used on this trip. For anyone intending to travel to Prague his channel is a must see!
PPS- I have no connection with the “Honest Guide” and am not sponsored by him!