As we generally do when visiting new cities, we had prepaid an On-and-Off bus tour. Most of the time, they are very informative and enjoyable—this one was not. First we had to find one of their on/off locations, which turned out to be no small challenge–it was a substantial distance from our accommodation, probably because we were staying in the pedestrian district. Lesson learned is that it is wiser not to book a tour bus ahead of time but, rather, check out the locale first and book one that is convenient and covers the most sights.
When we finally boarded, the route and the stops were very disappointing. All but one were blocks from the destinations they were describing–that may have been the result of traffic patterns within the city. We always stay onboard through the entire route, then decide where we want to get off. There was only one stop that appealed to us—the Prague Castle high above the city. (To be fair, the weather was cold and drizzly so we were not inclined the walk around other stops that might have been pleasant in better weather.)
Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. It is a complex that dates back to the 9th century and encompasses four churches, four castles, and five gardens along with a number of other buildings and a village. It was bitterly cold and drizzly as we walked along the castle grounds—so much so that it was actually painful to remove my glove to take pictures with my iPhone! But I persisted….
Prague is known as the City of One Thousand Spires, most of them on Catholic churches. (Interestingly, a significant number of the population considers itself aetheist.) Quite a number of them are on the Castle grounds—we saw lots of spires during our short walk through the main courtyard.
Just as I thought my fingers were going to fall off, we spotted a cafe that served hot mulled wine—we were saved! When we finished our snack, it was raining steadily and the cobblestones were getting very slippery, so we sadly had to call it a day without exploring the village within the complex. Guess we just need to go back….