As I write this I am sitting in my hotel room in Prague. We arrived in Prague late on Tuesday afternoon after a 4 hour bus trip from Vienna. Along the way the countryside was mostly green rolling hills. In some respects it looked rather like some parts of the Victorian countryside. The main giveaway that we were not in Australia were the extensive wind and solar energy we passed along the roadside.
Our first impressions of Prague were not very favourable – extensive areas of rather grotty suburbs with graffit everywhere. It definitely reminded me of the less attractive areas of Budapest we had seen in 2009. A large billboard for a table top dancing venue just outside the hotel did not inspire confidence that this would be a good area for after dark walks.
Since we were only going to have 2 full days in Prague we decided to book into a group walking tourand for the first day. Although it goes against my grain to be “milked” in this fashion, it did give us a good overall idea of what the historic centre was all about. It was a pity about the grating accent of the guide and the dozens of other groups all jostling for space in the narrow streets of the old city.
There are certainly some amazing buildings in this city and it once again serves to remind us just how thin our history is in Australia. Many of the buildings and bridges here date back almost 1000 years. We also learnt that “good” King Wenceslas was not actually a king and he was not actually all that good either. In any case he was murered by his younger brother at age 29. It also emerged that a favourite method of despatching one’s enemies here is throwing them out of a window. Apparently this method of despatch is called “defenestration”. Strange but true.
Last night we met the fellow who will be providing our bikes for the next section. A pity that he only spoke about 4 words of English and that the guide books are all in German. Another challenge for our expert route committee, who’s job it is to navigate us safely from point to point along the way.
Today I returned to the old town to spend some time exploring the area for myself. I decided to visit the Museum of Communism which documented the dark days of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. This came to an end in the so called “Velvet Revolution” of 1989. I have to admit that I found it quite an emotional experience to watch the documentaries that were screening and to learn about the two young men that burnt themselves to death to draw the world’s attention to the Soviet oppression in their country.
Tomorrow we resume our ride and I am sure that all our riders are now keen to get underway again. Our team has now been reduced to 10 riders now that some have completed their sections and are returning to Australia.
Our next major city will be Dresden.