Saturday 25 June 2016
Hotel Alchymist has etched into the door step 1517. With arched ceilings and gilded furniture it’s pretty nice. It has chandeliers in every room and in the basement is a bubbling pool and massage rooms.
After a hearty breakfast we strolled around the corner and up the steps to the Prague Castle. The view over the city from here is stunning. Some three hundred spires around the town pierce the hazy sky. It’s pretty evident that the camera is for a good workout today. We stroll around the castle gazing at the variety of structures, some totally different than others, but all seem to blend together in a powerful statement of magnificence.
From the castle we strolled into the old town. Old trams in great condition rattled down the streets. Vintage style cars ferried tourists around.
Everywhere you look it is clean, tidy and the buildings are in pristine condition. In the Old Town Square we sat in a cafe and watched the Astronomical Clock do its stuff. Built way back in 1410, the king of the time liked it so much he had the eyes removed from the guy that built it to prevent him building something better for someone else. Thousands of people pack the square. We discovered that many of the buildings in this square were built in the twentieth century but in a style keeping with the rest of the town.
We wandered the streets in awe of what we saw.
Coming across the dancing buildings we spotted people on the roof. “There must be a bar up there” so up we went. As we admired the view down river some of the largest rain drops we have felt began to strike. We just made it into the covered area before getting drenched.
When the rain stopped we wandered back down the river and across the Charles Bridge (built in 1357) back to the hotel.
We were 20 meters from the hotel when the rain hit again followed by large hail stones which pounded there way across town.
We enjoyed the complimentary wine and cheese in the hotel before heading downstairs to the impressive spa area for massages – the strong Indonesian masseuse pounded my body back into shape
Sunday 26 June
We strolled back up to the Prague castle and bought tickets to go inside a number of the buildings. The first records of civilisation in this area date from between 3600 and 2500 BC. The castle area started to be built in the 8th century with the first stone buildings erected in the mid-1100’s. The castle area covers 70,000 square metres, making it the largest ancient castle in the world. It is dominated by the St Vitus cathedral. It has housed kings from a number of different dynasties and is currently the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic.
Our tickets gave us access to the old palace, several museums and of course the cathedral. One area show-cased numerous suits of armour, weapons and the torture chamber and prison area, which displayed several horrific looking implements. In one area people wore traditional dress and demonstrated several different medieval skills including black smithing, leather work and armour making.
After exploring the castle we decided to take a three hour private Segway tour around the city. Roger was only on the Segway for two minutes before our guide pronounced herself scared. It was a great way to get a good overview of the city. One of the more amusing sites was the ‘Pissing fountain’. Sculpted by David Cerny it apparently depicts the government pissing on the country. We passed several more of his works including some faceless babies crawling up the space tower, apparently the ninth ugliest building in the world.
Our guide was a bit of a hoot, entertaining us with tidbits of history tinged with her irreverent sense of humour. Roger had somehow managed to run his battery flat about 2.5 hours in, and just as we arrived at the beer garden near the Monastery (which we had been told sold the best beer in Prague). It was a good place to wait for a replacement battery to arrive so we could finish the trip back to the hotel.