Because of the way that the University works its staff leave out, Pip was required to take one or two days more before Christmas. After some discussion we decided that a long weekend in Prague would be a good idea so off we went last Friday morning, returning on Monday afternoon. About two hours flying time each way.
Prague received very little damage during World War 2 and so much of its architecture and layout is many hundreds of years old. The central city has very intricate cobblestoned streets, none of them going in a straight line, which makes for a fascinating walk. I have no sense of direction, although I can read a map quite well. Pip, on the other hand, has a good sense of direction but can’t yet get the hang of “left” and “right” on a map. So we managed to get the worst of all possible worlds by having Pip hold the map and me point my nose skywards to sniff for a scent of direction. We managed to get quite lost more than once and even establishing our positions via the iPhone didn’t really help. Never mind, it was all good fun as the temperature ranged between +2 and -1 degrees C but luckily there were plenty of street vendors selling cups of mulled wine. I also was wearing my specially-purchased long johns for the occasion (sorry, no photographs) and for the first time ever took to wearing a cap with nice little pull down flaps to cover the ears. Pip was somewhat more fetchingly attired in a very Slavic-looking pull down hat and a heavy coat with fake fur hood.
There is a tradition in Europe of Christmas Markets, where a series of stalls are erected around the own square selling gifts and Christmassy stuff so there was plenty to keep us occupied. There were also several classical music concerts on while we were there and we managed to get to two of them. In fact we sat down for the first of them only 45 minutes after we had arrived at our hotel. It was held at the ornately baroque-styled Dominican monastery of St Giles with an interior dating from the late 1600’s. This church was the location for much of the film Amadeus and the acoustics were thrilling.
Our hotel, the Archibald at the Charles Bridge, was very central with an excellent restaurant and nice warm rooms but even so, there are a few attractions such as the Prague Castle which we were not able to get to so there’s a good reason to return, perhaps in warmer months. Another reason to return is the beer, for which the Czechs are famous, having invented the Pilsener style. Because there is no tax on beer in the Czech Republic, it is very cheap and perhaps because of that, Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other country. So yes, we hope to return to Prague at some time.