Thursday 27 July 2017

Today is a free day according to the official itinerary and we can therefore start a lot later, not only taking breakfast late but also setting out from the hotel much later in the morning.  As last night we take the metro but this time only as far as Staromestske and we then walk past the edge of the Jewish cemetery (given the buzz around much of the town this is very quiet) to the Cech bridge as our booked river cruise departs from the closely adjacent jetty (stage 5).

We are booked on the 2 hour lunchtime cruise which takes us along the Vltava and up the lock in the centre of the city and then we go further upstream to just beyond the railway bridge (Železniční most).  The boat then turns around returning via a complicated manoeuvre to allow a good look at the Charles Bridge.  The waterway is busy at this point and I have a feeling some of the waiting was also to allow proper pathing of various boats on shorter cruises.  We then go downstream as far as we can without going through the next lock down turning around just short of Hlávkův most before returning to our starting point at stage 5.

Lunch is generously catered with, amongst much else, a huge ham having slices carved off, lots of salad and a decent selection of cheeses.  Jackie has some very good ginger cake.  Our photos of the river trip are here.

One fascinating building we did see in the distance was the Dancing House, which is better explained and illustrated in the linked post than my pictures – a very different piece of architecture.

As we wander around the City we saw a lot of these cars showing tourists the sites (with thanks to Jackie for the photo):

After the cruise we take a tram along the riverside and then walk across the Vltava to catch the funicular to Petrin.  The queue seems lengthy but moves fairly rapidly.  It is helped by Jackie heading off to the ticket office for the funicular whilst I remain in the queue (we are following the example of people ahead of us in the queue).  It is a pity that the fare is simply for the funicular and not also combined with the tower as we have another queue there!  It is not Disney though!

At the top of the hill the observation tower (which previously we have been able to see from all over Prague) is now invisible!  The posted map is useless as all the other visitors have stabbed the “You are here” point as well as the location of the observation tower, so the descriptions are obliterated and I cannot work out which is which!  The map however gives the Czech translation of “Observation Tower” and nearby a finger sign showing the same Czech translation points the way (behind a bank of trees).  We follow this indicator and soon find ourselves in a queue for the ticket office, which to our consternation only takes cash.

There is an ATM is in the same office so after some kerfuffle getting the right language (for us) Jackie is able to draw some cash; the ticket office then wants a smaller note than the one dispensed by the ATM.  Sometimes despair sets in!  We do not fancy taking the staircase to the top and the tiny lift can take 5 or 6 people, so we have to await the second departure.

Photos of the funicular and of Prague from the tower are here.

Once up at the top of the observation tower the movement of people and the slight breeze means that the swaying of the tower is discernible so we soon return to the ground floor and a refreshing brew ere retracing our steps to the funicular and then waiting a tram to return us to the hotel.  There are a lot of trams here and they provide an excellent service, at least as far as our limited usage is concerned.

In the early evening we head down the hill from the hotel in search of a local restaurant which we find after marginally taking a wrong turning.  It is packed, noisy and obviously extremely popular.

We decide on a traditional main course of duck and potato dumplings which does include a decent piece of duck so it is a good solid meal.  We see various other fellow travellers and our tour guide partaking of meals in the restaurant!