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Day 3: Prague

This would be our final day in a rapid-fire visit to Prague. We knew that we didn't have to check out until 12:00 and we weren't flying until 22:55, so we figured we'd get a morning's adventuring in first, grab a shower afterwards, then spend the whole afternoon doing some exploring too.

Our plan for the morning was to tour the Malá Strana gardens, which involved us heading back to the castle which we'd visited yesterday evening. The tourist groups were at the entrance but, since they were dawdling in one brainless mass, it wasn't difficult to surge past them and leave them behind as we raced through the courtyards to the lookout by the eastern entrance, which afforded us a view over Prague.



Our intended route involved walking through the "Palace Gardens beneath Prague Castle" and then onto Wallenstein Square to see the palace, but we reckoned without having to pay an entrance charge. As an alternative we instead walked along the southern side of the castle, which presented us with some stunning buildings and further views over the city:




Eventually we reached a steep staircase, which was handy because it led us directly to Wallenstein Square via an alternative route:


When we got to the bottom we realised this was all very familiar to us; we'd walked this way on both our previous days when heading from Karlův Most to out hotel. We had originally intended to do some walking deeper into the Malá Strana gardens but it dawned on us that after this diversion we were behind schedule and would be cutting things fine for returning to the hotel. Already sweat-sodden, we really didn't want to go without a shower so we decided to cut short this adventure and head back to the hotel so that we would have enough time left.

We'd set ourselves two adventures for the afternoon. Firstly, we intended to check out at noon and immediately head on a 6km walk through the Letná and Stromovka gardens, well beyond the reach of any tourists. That would still give us plenty of time to head back into Prague and walk through Vinohrady and Vršovice, which ran alongside the Nové Město. So off we set to the Summer Palace, which we'd by now visited a few times:


We headed eastwards and soon saw a grotoo dedicated to the novelist Josef Zeyer:


More views overlooking Prague followed:


We passed the Hanavský pavilon:


And before long we saw a huge metronome, although we couldn't understand the point of it:


We stopped off for some refreshment at a bar and then left the Letná gardens behind to head to Stromovka. En route we saw some pretty buildings:


We knew we were on the right track when we passed the Prague Planetarium:


We were looking for a place called "The Old Restaurant" to have lunch. It was only after we passed it that we realised by process of elimination that this building with the fabric facade was it:


The park was traditionally used for hunting and above our heads we saw the Místodržitelský Summer Palace where the nobility spent their time:


We were maybe half way through the park and exhausted but we knew there was something called Emperor's Island awaiting us in a couple of kilometres' time, so we trudged on in the heat. We crossed the Vltava via a pedestrian bridge ... and realised that we'd missed it. It was totally nondescript, just a regular island on which were horses. (The smell gave it away.) We thought that, given how far we'd come and that it was apparently not far on, that we'd visit the Troja Chateau, and so on we continued. It wasn't particularly worth it, though; some crone yelled at us that it was closed when we walked through the gates, so the best we got was this photo:


(Yes, other people were milling about. She just wouldn't let us join them.)

At this stage we faced a dilemma. We were miles outside of Prague and with no travel options in sight. The best we could do was head eastwards, knowing that if we followed the train lines we'd get to a metro stop at some point. It took about half an hour but we could hear announcements on the tannoy and so knew that the meighbourhood station was close, and from our research we knew that the metro stop was a little further along. At this point we spotted a restaurant and so, exhausted and behind schedule, we had our lunch at something after 16:00.

We decided that we'd had enough adventure for one day, so rather than do the walk through Vinohrady and Vršovice as we'd intended, we instead chose to get the metro to Wenceslas Square and have a coffee and read in a bookshop. That took some revision when it emerged that there was some sort of Star Wars event taking place in there, complete with an interview, so we headed to another coffee shop, then caught the aiport bus, leaving us with plenty of time to spare.

As it happens, there was even more time than we'd intended. Our 22:55 flight was delayed by two hours and we didn't step foot in our house until 04:00. The first day back at work is going to have to be done on the bare minimum of sleep!

But we won't let the end tarnish our enjoyment. Once we'd managed to free ourselves of the tourist hordes, Prague was an utter delight. Best of all, we got three full days in without having to use our holiday entitlement, because we left first thing on a Saturday and retuned last thing on a bank holiday. We think that all in, the travel between home and the airport, flights, accommodation and food probably cost us about £200 each. That's a bargain for what we got out of the three days. We'll probably try a longer holiday touring the Czech and Slovakian countryside at some point in the next few years.



Edited by Tim

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