…At least at first. Read more below.
I have always liked to have some structure to my life, my vacation trips always had an element of close planning to them. Not that I am like my father, who liked to plan all our family trips in the tiniest detail, with rock solid hard plans of the activities for every day and how far we were to drive (if it was a road trip). No, I plan because it brings me some security and a guarantee that I can relax the entire trip. There is nothing as dreadful for me as forgetting something when I pack, even if it’s not something terribly important.
So, after telling you this you might have some idea of the anxiety that fell upon me when I, on my last full day in Prague discovered that my beloved compact camera was running out of battery. This had happened to me once before, in San Francisco at a visit to the San Francisco Zoo, but that was entirely due to me being a bit too generous with the video camera function. I simply had not realized that moving video used up a lot of battery. Anyway, it resulted in the second half of that zoo trip being somewhat ruined for me, as I was unable to take all those animal photos I wanted, especially of those adorable koalas.
In Prague, as I continued the trek from the subway station to the Old Town Square in the cheerful sunlight I kept thinking how I needed to conserve the remaining battery life I had left for as long as possible. I had to get up close to things, I had to avoid using zoom, shut off the camera as soon as I had taken a photo. But gods, how many things did I really want preserved from my trip? Prague was so full of fascinating buildings with obvious history to them.
And Old Town was no exception and the milling tourist crowds that near filled the square at times seemed to agree with me. Honestly, the sheer size of the square alone was almost breathtaking. In Sweden, the largest square we have is Sergel’s Square and that one is being shrunken down and decked over (perhaps they want the drug dealers to have some privacy).
I milled about as well until I found the church where Tycho Brahe is supposed to be buried, the church with those fascinating slightly asymmetrical towers that had guided me to the square in the first place. It was almost a relief that they did not at all allow photos inside that large place of worship. And I did found the grave of Tycho Brahe, marked out with a Danish flag. I was able to buy a postcard of it, so I was satisfied with my visit.
Then outside and a return to the unsettled feeling in my gut every time I took out my camera to take a photo of something neat, from the large Protestant church on the other corner of the square, the statue of the bishop who was burned to death for his opinions before Luther had even nailed up his papers on that church door, the street vendors with their huge hams roasting on spits over the fire and the astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall.
This last thing seemed the gather the largest crowds, as huge groups of tourists, me included packed themselves in and waited for it to strike the hour. See, when it does a whole sequence of events are set in motion, the statue of death rings his bell and the twelve apostles come peeking out of two doors, a trumpet plays and then a rooster crows, before the actual clock tower bell begin to toll. I might have liked to try and get photos of the entire sequence, perhaps even filming it like some, but my battery said otherwise. I had to be frugal.
(As an amusing aside, because this clock was build before daylight savings, it is always one hour behind in the summer.)
I tore myself away from the Old Town Square and explored the streets around it, where I found the place where Mozart’s Don Gionvanni premiered, commemorated by this creepy looking statue that an American guide told his group was often identified by smartasses as a Dementor or a Ringwraith, among other things. And that a kid had gotten his head stuck inside it once.
As I kept on walking the streets I was struck by how many of the stores seemed to repeat themselves; glassware, souvenirs, garnet and amber jewelry, bakerys, shops selling clothes and handbags, restaurants and cafes. Though I told myself this was to be expected. This was after all the tourist heavy part of town and this wasn’t too dissimilar from similar streets in the Old Town in Stockholm (if you do come visit, I can show you the non tourist bits).
I finally located the street that would take me to the Charles Bridge, that which seems to be the most famous landmark if you ask anyone at home about Prague sights. It’s always the Charles Bridge that pops into people’s heads.
And when I finally found it, along with every other tourist in the city there with me I had only enough battery for only a couple of photos of the bridge itself. Feeling a little surly I still tried to enjoy the walk, peering up at the different statues, locating the one of the holy person that got thrown off it to his death in the olden days. Apparently it is seen as good luck to either touch the plaque marking the spot where he fell or his statue proper and there were lines for both.
After I took the tram back to my hotel to rest my feet before I ventured out again for dinner, I vowed that I would walk back up to the bridge later, so I might see the Charles Bridge in the evening, as this is supposed to be a beautiful sight, with the street lamps lining the bridge lit.
I was not disappointed.
After I had sampled some genuine Czech cuisine (which is a bit on the stodgy side) I took my walk up the Vltava river, watching the evening sky slowly turn shades of blue and pink and violet.
It was breathtaking.
And in this light, the Charles Bridge, the Castle guarding us all from its hill was truly a sight to be seen once in your life. If you ever come to Prague this is something you simply must do.
Because a change in lighting can do wonders for most anything.
And by now I had charged up my camera battery and could preserve all these heart-achingly beautiful sights for the future.