PRAGUE

at summer solstice

So what do you do when you are supposed to report on the Most Historic Grand Prix in the north of the Czech Republic?

Fly in two days early and enjoy Prague around summer solstice!

With the apartment’s private parking only available from 1pm, the best way to still enjoy the morning after landing at Prague Airport around 8.30am is to drive your rental car to the Palladium shopping mall’s giant underground car park. Then you take the elevator up, go out and this is what you see...

A short walk brings you from the Powder Tower to the art nouveau façades around the Mucha Museum (worth a visit) and a ‘bridge of sighs’ that no tourist seems to care about... Then it’s onwards to the Wenceslas Square and the market at Havelská.

Yes, that’s a giant polar bear...

Go past the crowd on the Old Town Square and head back towards the Powder Tower for coffee and cake in style at a very special place.

Obecni dum café

If you’re into art nouveau, then this is a great place for lunch. Never mind the grumpy service and the lack of vibrant young people around you - instead simply enjoy the place’s history and art.

A great idea for escaping the summer heat is to go up to the top of Petrin hill using the funicular train. The miniature Eiffel tower is the main attraction there, along with the astronomical observatory, but you will find a hidden treasure behind a gate that is hard to find - the Kvetnice rose garden.

After a beer on a terrace overlooking the city you go back down to finish the afternoon along the banks of the Vltava river, with Gehry’s famous Dancing House as the coda in the midst of frantic evening rush-hour traffic...

A brief evening stroll into this strangest of parks (try to find R2D2 there!) is all you will allow yourself...

... since you have a plan! Because of its undisputed beauty, Prague as a tourist attraction has become almost as popular as Amsterdam and Venice. So how do you avoid the crowd when visiting the city’s hotspots? By beating them to it!

And that means setting the alarm clock at 4am and taking the tram (which runs all night!) to Vltava river to experience Prague at dawn...

4am?! Yes, this is summer solstice, the longest day of the year...

The Charles Bridge at dawn...

At 4.30am, a meditative slow walk crossing the bridge to celebrate summer solstice got underway. An hour later, the pagan ritual was still only halfway. Other bridge dwellers included partygoers who had stayed up all night, and Chinese brides and grooms getting their wedding pictures taken.

At the other end of the bridge is the Lennon Wall. You and a British girl you’ve just met on the bridge are the only two people there.

On top of the hill, the country’s founding father Tomas Masaryk is overlooking the city.

The gates to the Prague Castle open at 6am. You will find no-one there, except that British girl and a handful of cleaning ladies reporting for work. You even have the Golden Alley for yourself, discounting those very same cleaning ladies...

Then it’s back down to earth, and into Prague’s underground with its wonderful station architecture. You sleep well into the afternoon before walking down to the Vysehrad castle with the cemetery where all the famous Czechs are buried before taking the tram back up to Prague’s big castle where you visit its terraced gardens - another hidden gem.

Prague, you’ve been amazing...

Mattijs Diepraam https://www.instagram.com/mdiepraam/ #places #prague #praha #czechrepublic #city #cityglimpses Oh, and if you made it all the way to here - thanks! I promise to make the next one a bit shorter...

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