Day 5 - More Castle Clambering

The weather continued it's brilliant sunny form as Rick and Jas visited Yet Another Castle. They explored Prague Castle, situated just behind their accommodation. From the ground it didn't seem to be a castle, as much of the walls weren't visible and it didn't have the typical turrets one normally finds on a medieval castle. The castle sprawls over a large area, containing the huge St Vitus' Cathedral, a chapel, the Royal Palace, St George's Basilica, and several gorgeous gardens. They climbed the cathedral's belfry, much to Jas' enjoyment, after all the hills and steps they'd climbed over the weekend. The young chap at the entrance cracked up at Jas' expression when she read how many steps there were to the top (500+). But it was worth it.

The rest of the afternoon was spent killing time until the evening flight. They did this in a highly relaxed manner, sauntering about, buying a few more bits of memorabilia (including a fetching sugar bowl) and having a last supper to fill their bellies before our flight.

All of the stag and hens groups were returning on the same flight, but thankfully their seats were up front in cleaner air.

Day 4 - Karlstejn Castle

Another day trip outside of Prague, though not as distant or commentary-filled. Karlsteyn Castle is advertised as a fairy tale castle nestled in quiet, forrested hills west of Prague. After the half hour train journey, Rick and Jas discovered that Karlstejn Castle is indeed a fairy tale castle nestled in quiet, forrested hills. It's imposing and memorable and quite simply a very attractive castle. The village of Karlstejn sits below the castle and is quite quaint, though it looks like it's in the beginnings of developing it's tourist facilities. The road up to the castle is filled with touristy knick-knacks being sold from shops that seem to be badly converted garages, by people who've probably watched their quiet street get busier over time but thought, "what the hell, let's sell some beer steins out front!". The views from Karlstejn Castle were great, and it's easy to see how the castle was never captured. It's nestled on a hill and it's massive walls would have been a challenge for any invader. The Karlstejn Castle cricket set was never nicked.

Back in Prague, dinner was a very satisfying experience. After tiredly trudging about the steep cobblestoned streets for a bit, enjoying the warm air and awesome views of the city at dusk, they found an atmosphere-laden Asian restaurant. The food was delicious.

Day 3 - Cesky Krumlov

The much looked-forward-to highlight of the trip was Cesky Krumlov. Rick & Jas arranged a day tour through a company that was good enough to pick them up at the front of their  accomodation to save the trek across the bridge. During the 2 hour minibus trip the friendly tour guide sat up front and spoke for the entire journey. In two languages. Without inhaling.  

The commentary was very interesting at first; she started in around the 10th century when the Czech Republic was Bohemia and a rather imposing economic region. The guide seamlessly switched between English and Spanish, talking of all the invasions and overthrows and assimilations that occurred over the centuries that make the country what it is today. Eventually Jas succumbed to the guide's monotonic commentary and nodded off sometime during the 14th century. She didn't wake up until World War Two. She likes her sleep, but 600 years of snoozing is a bit out of order. And it took the bombing of Dresden to wake her up!

Rick managed to stay awake for the duration, but there were times - when he was gazing at the green undulating countryside that slid past while the guide was speaking Spanish - that he suddenly realised the guide had actually switched back to English and had missed the activities of one or two Bohemian monarchs. The long and the short of the Czech Republic history is that, through the ages, the country has quietly tried to go about it's business of being a happy and pretty little country, but all it's neighbours have at some stage jumped over the fence, stomped on the flowers, peed on the BBQ and then unceremoniously left with the cricket set.

Anyway, Cesky Krumlov: simply marvellous. Their first image of Cesky was from above, from in the castle, and it's stunning. A cluster of red tiled houses cluttered together in the appendix-shaped loop of a river surrounded by lush countryside. It oozes medieval charm that makes you just want to wander the cobbled streets and absorb the atmosphere. Rick & Jas found that this atmosphere could be equally absorbed whilst sitting down with a drink outside a homely cafe. 

So after a bit of wandering they did a tour of the impressive castle and the nearby theatre. The theatre was impressive as they got an idea of medieval special the sounds of thunder and rain and suchlike were produced. It wasn't Dolby surround sound, but you could see medieval folk enjoying a show.

Thankfully the guide didn't talk too much on the way back, though it wouldn't have made much difference because most of the bus was asleep on the way back. Apart from the driver, thankfully. It was a rather knackering day, and dinner was a kebab takeaway in their little room at the top of Prague.

Day 2 - Prague Perambulations

Prague is a city that has many tourists and a language with few vowels. Every word seems to have an inappropriate number of z's, k's and y's, making pronunciation a major effort. Those Czech folk must get great scores in Scrabble.

Rick and Jas spent a relaxing day exploring the city in the warm sunshine...crossing the brilliant Charles Bridge (Karlov Most), czeching out (chortle chortle) the old town and finding lovely little cafes to eat and drink and rest their weary legs. Prague really is full of stunning architecture. The country was communist until 1989 and so hasn't endured much redevelopment in the last century or two, resulting in many fantastic old buildings unaffected by Western economy.

They found a market. Not a big one, but big enough for Jas to get excited and buy an array of gifts and knick knacks. Rick splashed out and bought a T-shirt and some bananas. All of these goodies were exhaustedly hauled uphill and upstairs to their room. After the days efforts, dinner was going to be as close possible. And so next door they went. The restaurant was gorgeous, and so was the traditionally-cooked food. Well, the meat was, anyway. Rick had rabbit (that tasted like chicken) and Jas had duck (that tasted like duck). Both meals were served with an inordinate amount of cabbage and spinach. They had trouble seeing each other across the table the vegetable piles were so high. But for dessert, the apple strudle...mmmm, just marvellous.

Day 1 - Stags and Hens

Their journey to Prague began with an Easyjet flight from Gatwick. It was the first plane they'd been on that didn't have allocated seating, and they've never seen so many people so keen to get on a plane. Everyone obviously wanted to get the best seats....whichever they may be. The plane was full of stags and hens ready to Party in Prague: one group of loud, kilt-endowed Scots, one group of girls in bright pink T-shirts, and another group of excitable chaps just in front who unfortunately had a boffing competition after a few relaxing beverages.

Anyway, Rick and Jas were a bit excitable upon arrival in Prague. Perhaps it was because of the poisoned air that they were inhaling towards the end of the flight, but they liked to think it was the balmy night air of the eastern European country that they were in. Their journey from the airport to the city was interesting, as they had to utilise every form of public transport available to them at the grand cost of 50p for the entire trip, about a 10th of the cost of a similar trip in London. A good monetary sign of things to come...

After the bus, metro and tram trips which carried them to the hill upon which the imposing Prague Castle stood, they started the upward hike to a very attractive cobble-stoned street and found their accommodation. Their lovely room on the top floor that had great views of the fine architecture in the area. They succumbed to the charm of the bar downstairs: the cheap Czech ale was the perfect tonic after a few hours of travelling.