Letna Park in Prague sits on a bluff beside Prague Castle on the west bank of the Vltava River. The Vltava is the longest river in Czech Republic at 270 miles and considered the national river. It merges with the Elbe River, which runs through Dresden, Germany and eventually empties into the North Sea at Hamburg.
I was loving the views from the bluff, about the same elevation above the Vltava River as Prague Castle.
Vltava upriver view.
Vltava downriver view.
Wikipedia says there are 16 bridges in Prague over the Vltava. My walk across Prague took me past 8 bridges seen in my two photos.
14th century Charles Bridge is the pedestrian only central bridge for Old Town Prague with 3 vehicle bridges on either side downstream and upstream in central Prague and a train bridge closest to my hotel location for this trip at Park Inn Prague upstream.
There was a sign at Hanavsky Pavilion stating restaurant open. I was ready for my first beer of the day after 90 minutes walking in below freezing temperatures.
The price for a 0.5 L Staropramen at 100 CZK ($4.00 USD) was triple the price I had paid the night before for Staropramen in a pub, but the venue was worth the price of one beer.
Hanavský Pavilion was created with funding by Prince von Hanau for an 1891 Czech Jubilee Exposition to mark the centennial of the 1791 Prague industrial exposition. The commercial purpose was to promote his Bohemian ironworks factory at Komarov.
The pavilion was donated to the city of Prague after the exposition and moved to its current location in 1898. From 1967-1971 the pavilion was converted to a restaurant and a terrace added with a view of Old Town Prague.
Refreshed with brew and a toilet stop, I was ready to move on.
Being a Californian from oil country and familiar with the sight of pumpjacks, I was intrigued by the sight I came across in Letna Park. I wondered if there was oil here in Czechia?
As I approached this machinery in motion, I saw the word ‘metronome’. While I have no musical education, except being an avid rock n’ roller, in 1980, when I was 20 years old, I learned the purpose of a metronome.
I worked for one year in Montpelier, Vermont in piano restoration, for a small business operated by a banjo musician with an ear for tuning. I’d say that job was the only personal benefit I ever received from the Ronald Reagan administration through a federally subsidized jobs program.
Prague Metronome was constructed in 1991 in a space left vacant from the destruction of a Joseph Stalin statue in 1961. Wikipedia describes the site as a gathering place for young people. I saw several people sitting on the wall, like a group of girls with bottles of wine. Reminded me of outdoor places with great views I would hang out drinking as a young person in Monterey, California (and still do at times).
Prague has so many great attractions, but when I return with my wife one day, good chance I will load my backpack with beer and head to the Metronome for an afternoon of drinking outside with a view, even if the temperature is below freezing in winter. Some working class people make money and stop that lifestyle. I love, and still prefer, the lifestyle of drinking outdoors in public in a non-commercial natural environment over drinking in restaurants and bars.
Letna Park is a large open space. The Velvet Revolution, the name for the breakaway resistance movement in Czechoslovakia from Soviet Union communism saw a demonstration of 750,000 protestors in November 1989.
One of my objectives for my day long walk day was to drink in pubs in different districts of Prague.
Outside Letna Park, I was in Prague District 7. I felt like I had finally walked out of Prague’s tourist zone and was in an area with locals. One of the indicators that I was in a primarily locals’ area of Prague were second hand shops. I passed by a Chinese restaurant with prices about 50% of what I had seen for food anywhere else in Prague in the previous 24 hours.
The menu is all in Czech, but the prices range from $1.40 to $5.40 for any dish.
The aspect of not following a tourist guide and simply walking and taking photos is when I research where I went on Google. I come across blogs like UrbanTravelBlog with a description of the Holešovice, Prague neighborhood, the area of Prague where I passed by the Chinese restaurant.
Prague 7, Holsevice.
Plaque on wall in Czech is for Josip Juraj Strossmayer, a Croatian politican and bishop. No idea what the connection is to Prague? I simply liked the building facade.
It was time for another beer and I hoped to find an AC outlet in the pub to recharge my phone.
Based on the price of beer in pubs in the area around Park Inn Prague and the price of beer at U Divadla, I came up with my hypothesis that beer is priced under 30 CZK ($1.20 USD) in pubs away from major tourist traffic compared to 45+ CZK ($1.80+ USD) in tourist areas.
I enjoyed this pub with old photos of brewery workers.
My intent was to tweet my way across Prague, but I quickly realized that I would eat through my iPhone battery power and the two extra battery chargers I have in 50 or so tweets. This was the most extensive tweeting I tried on battery power and it was going to leave me without a phone camera and no backup camera, if I did too many tweets.
My three days in Prague also taught me that an AC outlet in a pub does not mean there is any power to that outlet. I found that the majority of times I plugged into an AC outlet in a pub there was no power.
I burned through one battery and I had not even made it back across the Vltava River to Karlin district.
I left the pub and headed toward the Vltava looking for a bridge to cross back over the river. I found myself at Hlávkův Bridge and spent some time trying to figure out how a pedestrian can navigate the major arteries of Prague inner city expressway traffic to actually get across the bridge. Locals standing around the transportation hub were of little help since nobody I asked, who spoke English, had actually ever tried to cross the river from there by foot.
I felt I was truly stuck in a Kafkaesque urban jungle of modern-day Prague.
Grafitti Saved My Life
Urban beauty in the midst of my despair.
One man with better eyesight than mine pointed to stairs in the distance, but had no clue how to access them from where we were standing. I eventually found the route through the bus stops and metro station and concrete maze of walls to reach the bridge and cross the river by foot.
Along the way, on Hlávkův Bridge, I saw a poster that really excited me. Usually I am in a city and see a poster for a concert gig from the week before or the next week. This was the first time I saw a concert happening I wanted to attend in a foreign city since Bob Weir in Amsterdam in 2002.
Jose Gonzalez performing at Forum Karlin in Prague on Friday night and I am in the city. I now had a definite objective for the night. I have followed and enjoyed listening to Jose Gonzalez, a Swedish-Argentinian guitarist, since I first heard his song Crosses in 2003. As an added bonus, Karlin is the next area in Prague I planned to visit once I got across the river.
On the other side of the Vltava I saw an area where kayakers were doing runs in a side channel of the Vltava. Hilton Prague caught my eye.
Feeling a beer buzz and with the prospect of seeing Jose Gonzalez in a few hours and, as a hotel geek, spotting the Hilton Prague, the late afternoon colors of winter in Prague were kind of spiritual to my eyes.
As the time of day approached 4pm, I knew the updated IHG PointBreaks list was coming out at 6 pm Prague time. An email from IHG corporate media alerted me Hotel Indigo Krakow, Poland was on the list of hotels for 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points for hotel stays January 30-April 30, 2017.
Hotel Indigo fit in well with my travel plans and I wanted to be at my hotel for the release of PointBreaks rooms. Google Maps showed me I was only one mile from Forum Karlin where the Jose Gonzalez concert was happening, while my hotel was about two miles away. I was conflicted about how to proceed.
I figured no rush since it was only a little after 4pm and the show started at 7pm with Jose Gonzalez playing at 8:15. The main issue was whether the show was already sold out.
I sat on a bench and tried to buy a ticket for the Jose Gonzalez show. After 20 minutes on my iPhone making web searches and eating up a good portion of power in my second battery pack, I was unable to figure out how to purchase a ticket through the website links I found. No problem since I figured I could have a meal, walk back to Park Inn Prague, and if tickets were available, get back to Karlin for show time, by taxi if necessary.
Along my way back across the city I could take more photographs of Old Town Prague.
To be continued in Ten Mile Walking Tour Part Three.
Old Town Prague
p.s. – I did not make it to the Jose Gonzalez concert. I got back to Park Inn Prague at 6pm and spent 30 minutes trying to book a PointBreaks reward reservation for Hotel Indigo Krakow. Eventually, I was alerted by people on Twitter that the actual booking for IHG PointBreaks was opening on Monday, not Friday, and 6pm was only the release time for the PointBreaks hotel list preview.
At that point, I was mad at myself for leaving Karlin district and walking back to Park Inn when I could have just been hanging out at a pub and walked to Forum Karlin to buy a ticket for Jose Gonzalez. There were $50 tickets to the show available from what I saw online, but even on my laptop at the hotel, I could not get the ticket site in Czech language to process a ticket order. Since it was getting close to 8pm, I dropped the idea of seeing Jose Gonzalez and instead went out walking around Prague for another 3 hours through Nové Město (New Town) and back to Old Town Prague.
Loyalty Traveler – Ten mile walking tour around Prague (part one)
Loyalty Traveler – Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (part 3 Old Town)