'The best hot chocolate in Prague'

It was a very early start to the day with Tony dropping me at Manchester Airport just after 4 am. My flight to Frankfurt took off on time but as we came in to land there was a medical emergency behind me. The Lufthansa staff were impressive in their handling of the situation and soon paramedics were on board and the passenger appeared to be heading for recovery. It meant a brisk flight from one end of the terminal to the other to catch my connection to Prague. Once here, I was soon leaving my bag in the hotel and heading out to look for somewhere to eat. Just up Opletalova I found Mr A’s restaurant and enjoyed beef goulash with potato dumplings. The waitress was polite about my attempts to speak Czech but I'm going to struggle!

As I'd left my guide book in the hotel I wasn't sure just where I was going but I decided to head for the River Vltava and take a look at the Castle high on the hill. As with all European cities, Prague is a busy, bustling place with trams rattling by on the cobbled streets and much to engage the tourist. I don't have space here to mention all the sights but my sort of circular route took me through Wenceslas Square dominated by the St Wenceslas Monument. This is set in an impressive avenue lined with restaurants, hotels and big name stores. It marks the divide between the old and the new town (Nove Mesto). I walked its length and then worked my way west through the streets to the Charles Bridge, built in the 14th century, and across in to the ‘Lesser Town’. I paused at the powerful memorial to the victims of Communism in Petrin Park and then began my climb to Hradcany, the Castle District. En route I spotted the focus of my blip, the chocolate shop which tempted me in with the promise of the best hot chocolate in Prague! It had an amazing interior and its history was writ on the ceiling. It was built in the 16th century and, in more modern times, used by film director Milos Forman for a scene in Amadeus. The tiny but potent pot of melted chocolate laced with cream saw me up the hill!

Beautiful buildings abound here in Hradcany Square: in addition to the Prague Castle; the Tuscan Palace; Martinic Palace and the most distinctive, Schwarzenberg Palace. My Berliz tells me that the facade is ‘covered with brick-like sgraffito’, quite unlike any decoration I have seen before. The views from here were across the red tiled roofs of the old city and quite breathtaking. I wandered awhile, enjoying the crowds and then found a staircase down which to ramble back to the river and across Manesuv Most, through to the Old Town Square where crowds had gathered to watch the Astronomical Clock (1490) in action on the hour. The story goes that the city elders had the clockmaker blinded so that he could not recreate his masterpiece!

I was tiring by now and decided to work my way back to my hotel where I promptly fell asleep. I had planned to go out again and blip the Castle at night but I think it’s wiser to stay put as I have a full day tomorrow to explore before catching the train to Zagreb and my meeting with Marketa and Tomas!

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