A few days in Prague
Last week, we were again acting as roadies for our daughter who teaches English as a foreign language. This year she has a post teaching in a village school just outside Prague and wanted some help with her luggage. She needed to take extra clothes for this trip as winters can be very cold in central Europe.
We flew to Prague from Bristol with Easy Jet and stayed at the U Krize hotel which is situated between the Vltava river and the Petrin hill near the Charles Bridge. We went to Prague for a long weekend a few years ago and my son visited Prague for a stag weekend. However there is a lot more to the city than cheap beer.
It is known as the city of a hundred spires and from above you can see the red roofs and green domes of the various churches. The river Vltava snakes lazily through the centre and while we were there a lot of people were enjoying boat trips or were out in pedal boats. Many bridges cross the river including the most famous, the Charles Bridge with its dark statues of medieval saints.
We caught the hop on hop off bus for a sight seeing tour and saw the enormous Prague castle and the rather ugly Prague Sparta football stadium. I learnt that the name comes from its former use for Spartacus gymnastics. We were unable to see the famous astronomical clock as it is being repaired and was covered by scaffolding.
2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Prague spring when protesters led by Alexander Dubcek rebelled against communism before the protest was crushed by Soviet tanks. We noticed a lot of people visiting the monument to the victims of communism opposite our hotel and lighting candles. We also visited a moving exhibition of testimonials by local people who had suffered under the communists in a local church.
In 1987 the people of Prague protested again led by Vaclav Havel a playwright . This time the Russians were more sympathetic and the wave of protests in central Europe led eventually to the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Soviet Union. Czechoslovakia became independent after what became known as the velvet revolution and Vaclav Havel became Prime minister. More recently there has been a velvet divorce and Czechia and Slovakia have split.
Prague is now the capital of Czechia and is a large open and vibrant city of over a million inhabitants with a large expat community. It is full of Parks and quirky statues. It has lots of restaurants serving international and local dishes and designer shops as well as shops selling handmade wooden toys and local alcoholic beverages. The area around the Charles bridge is full of buskers playing classical music and talented artists painting tourists portraits. Certainly it is a wonderful city to visit.