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  The Czech Republic 2008 - Around Prague

 

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THE CZECH REPUBLIC - AROUND PRAGUE

Karlstejn is a small town with a tourist honey-pot of an impressive castle. This is a major destination for trips from Prague and there were coaches of several nationalities including the UK in the car park where the charges were 70CZK (3) up to 2.7m high (our height -just!) and 300CZK (12!) for taller vehicles. There were many gift shops and horse drawn carriages offering rides up the steep hill to the castle entrance. Of course we walked up the hill to the impressive castle entrance where we were surrounded by parties of polite school children in multi-coloured raincoats who certainly added some needed colour on a drab day. Only guided tours are offered so we headed back down the hill and called in to the Betlemu museum (45CZK 1.75) with nativity cribs and tableaux made from bread, gingerbread and decorated wood some small and intricate and larger ones with  animated figures. An interesting place and as often we were the only visitors.

Karlstejn Castle
Karlstejn Castle

Karlstejn castle View from ramparts
View from ramparts

Colourful school party at Karlstejn
Colourful school party at Karlstejn

Karlstejn Nativity crib made from gingerbread
Nativity crib made from gingerbread

Nativity crib made from bread
Nativity crib made from bread
Intricate wooden nativity crib
Intricate wooden nativity crib

After lunch in the very wet carpark we relied on our satnav to steer us to the edge of Prague and the Sunny Camp campsite in the western suburb of Stodulky, surrounded by blocks of flats but it felt secure and there was a metro station fairly close by. The site was almost full and by coincidence we pitched next to the friendly Dutch couple we had met at the Karlovy Vary site. There was also a Dutch caravanners rally in the adjacent field. Our neighbours apologised for their noisy, clog wearing, boules playing compatriots! Here was one of the few places on our holiday where we met some British motorhomers.
A one day travel ticket obtained from the campsite reception was good value at 100CZK (4) each so we spent the next day, which luckily was sunny again, in Prague. We are not great city lovers but managed to visit many of the main attractions, hopping on the frequent trams after our legs began to ache. After seeing the Fred and Ginger building, Jewish Quarter, the old town square and the famous astronomical clock - just in time for its midday chime, we found our way back to Charles Bridge which was just too busy with tourists, performers and stalls to be pleasant. However a few yards away from the crowds we sat in a peaceful shady pedestrian square for lunch. Another tram ride took us to the castle and the Loreto sanctuary, (110CZK and no photography allowed) with its ornate chapel and cloisters and the "Prague Sun" diamond studied monstrance in the Treasury. From there we walked to the park on Petrin Hill with the mini Eiffel tower and took the funicular (included in the travel pass) and tram to the centre then the metro back to the campsite.


Prague - Fred and Ginger building
Fred and Ginger building


Prague St Vitus' cathedral from Vltava river
St Vitus' cathedral from Vltava river 

Prague Old Town square
 Old Town square

Prague - Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge


A wild camping spot? not for us!
A wild camping spot? not for us!


Prague art deco shopfront
Prague art deco shopfront

Prague - Astronomical clock
Prague - Astronomical clock

Prague - doorway detail
Prague - doorway detail

Loreto Sanctuary
Loreto Sanctuary


Vintage car tours
Vintage car tours
Prague crowds on Charles Bridge
crowds on Charles Bridge

Although we found Prague interesting and with many attractive sights we decided one day would be enough for us. We were glad to get away from the tourist trappings and the pestering of leafleteers. There weren't many customers for the vintage car tours at 950CZK (37) a time or for the services of  "The Experienced Guide"


          Prague - The Experienced Guide awaits
                    The Experienced Guide awaits


Prague's "Eiffel tower" on Petrin Hill
Prague's "Eiffel tower" on Petrin Hill

The next day we set off for the Prague ring road which was jammed solid so took a very erratic route getting lost several times in the rather less than attractive southern suburbs and eventually reached the open countryside from where looking back the whole of Prague seemed to be blocks of flats. We reached the smarter town of Nymburk for some shopping in a supermarket (and Magnum icecreams at less than 1 each!) then headed north to the area known as the Bohemian Paradise near Jicin.

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