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Bike Prague: Round Two

Bike Prague: Round Two

We had so much fun on our full day bike tour with Vladimir on Monday that we decided to rent bikes from Praha Bike again the next day and try biking Prague solo.  After a good night’s sleep and our first opportunity to sleep a little late, we were feeling pretty fine on Tuesday morning.  We walked again the two miles to Praha Bike (no getting lost this time YAY) and rented two very nice hybrid bikes for the day.  Off we went!

The Astronomical Clock

The Astronomical Clock

Vladimir had given us a map and circled things he recommended that we try to see so that was our plan.  On our walk to the shop we had seen a large group of about 20 people on a Praha Tour and then as we left the shop we ran into another large Praha Tour led by none other than our buddy, Vladimir.  We shouted hello and he asked us what is our plan for the day.  So we stopped and talked a bit.  So good to see him again.  There were over 60 people doing Praha tours that day.  We hadn’t realized how special it was that we had a private tour the day before.

Our first stop was the Astronomical Clock close to the town square.  The clock was finished in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working.  It is highly ornate featuring sculptures of gothic figures.  At the top of every hour, the skeleton sculpture rings a bell and a door opens to show figures of the twelve apostles.  We happened to get there a few minutes before the hour so we waited with the thousand other people crammed into the area in front of the clock.  It was interesting but maybe not interesting enough to stand around being squeezed into a small space with a thousand other tourists. As soon as it was finished we wormed our way through the sea of people and out of there as fast as we could.

Narrow cobblestone streets close to the town square.

Narrow cobblestone streets close to the town square.

We headed back over the river to the west side of town to cycle in the Troya Garden Park.  It was lovely and serene there, high above the city with magnificent views.  We enjoyed the quiet carless bike trails for about an hour and then headed off  southwest to explore far away from the tourist area.  It was nice to leave the crowds behind and cycle through a truly Czech part of town.

We found a nice looking pub with outdoor tables and took a break.  Craig watched the bikes while I went into the pub to  see if I could score us some waters and beer.  I was a bit nervous because I knew it would be very unlikely that anyone there would speak English.  I don’t know why I worry about this.  I’ve been in this sort of situation many times and I’m always amazed at how easy it is to communicate simple things.  If you just smile and laugh and make it fun, these encounters can be pretty neat.  I first tried to explain that we wanted to be served outdoors by pointing outside. She didn’t understand so I just pointed at the bottled waters and tapped on the beer taps and put up two fingers each time.  AH!  No problem!  She poured out the waters and beer into four glasses and I gave her my credit card.  Then I needed to figure out how to carry the two glasses and two large beer mugs down the steps and outside.  I held my hands up like I was holding a tray.  She looked puzzled for a moment and then smiled and pointed at one of her small bar trays.  YES! I nodded and we both were laughing.  I just love these encounters. She helped me load up the tray and I took them outside for a nice little beer and water break.

An old mini caught my eye.

An old mini caught my eye.

It was a busy sidewalk area with lots of people walking by so we enjoyed some people watching as we drank our beers.  One interesting thing we’ve noticed is that Czech people’s dogs are never on leashes while they are being walked.  They are the most well behaved dogs I’ve ever seen.  They always walk right next to their owners.  An older woman walked by us with her Yorkie and then stopped and started speaking to him.  He stopped and sat down.  We couldn’t figure out what she was doing at first but then saw another couple walking by with their dog.  Both dogs politely walked by each other without so much as a butt sniff!  WOW I wish I get MY dog to do that!!

I just can't get enough of this amazing view.

I just can’t get enough of this amazing view.

After our break we pedaled around for another couple of hours exploring the neighborhoods.  We stopped every several blocks to consult our map but at one point we weren’t sure where we were.  There was a man working outside nearby so I took my map over to him and tried to ask him by gesturing where we were on my map.  He took the map but didn’t seem to understand it (all the street names are in Czech so I didn’t think it would be a problem).  But somehow he decided that he knew where we were wanting to go and so he starting talking really fast in Czech and pointing all different ways.  He was obviously trying to give us directions to somewhere but I had no idea where.  So I just kept smiling and nodding and saying yes yes THANK YOU!  I got my map and walked back over to Craig to explain that I had no idea what the guy had tried to tell me.  After a minute the guy walked up to us talking faster this time and pointing.  He seemed very determined to give us help getting somewhere I have no idea where.  We both just kept smiling and saying thank you thank you BYE BYE!  And took off pedaling.  I didn’t look back because I’m sure we weren’t following his directions and I didn’t want him to come running after us. Sometimes the communication thing doesn’t go so well.

Absinthe shop in the old town area

Absinthe shop in the old town area.  No we didn’t go in there.

We finally found some street signs and figured out where we were and then pedaled back to the Prague Castle area where we had a yummy late lunch of goulash in a bread bowl and “The Wedding Dinner” (beef in a delicious cheesy cream sauce).

We were close to our hotel and rode over to a computer store we had noticed the day before.  I wanted to see if I could buy a wireless mouse for my laptop.  I forgot to bring mine and it is very difficult to use the touch pad.  The store had been closed before (it had been late) and the window displays were a bunch of yellowed old software and computer game boxes that had been obsolete for decades.  My hopes weren’t too high that they would have what I needed.  Yep I was right, I thought to myself as I opened the door to a small dark room with a man and woman sitting behind two old desks surrounded by dusty old computer parts stacked up to the ceiling.  They both looked up in surprise as I walked in as if they were shocked that anyone had actually come into their store.  There’s no way they’re going to be able to help me!

But I asked anyway.  The man spoke a little bit of English and understood when I asked for a mouse.  He got up and walked over to a large old wooden cabinet.  When he opened it I was surprised to see rows and rows of brand new computer mice and other supplies hanging neatly in their packages.  He pulled out three different wireless options and let me choose the best one for my MAC.  I asked him if he could take a credit card but he said no and I didn’t have enough Czech cash to pay for it.  I asked him about an ATM and he gestured around the corner so I held up my finger and said “Be right back!” and we took off on our bikes in search of the ATM.  We found it but it was all in Czech.  Oh my.  There were three choices and I had no idea what they meant so I just eenie-meenie-minie-moed it and hit a button.  Then a bunch of amount options appeared and I hit the one I wanted.  Another two options in Czech.  Maybe “Do you want a receipt… yes or no?”  I hit one and out popped my money in the correct amount AND a receipt.  HOT DOG!!!  We pedaled back to the store and I now own a new wireless mouse.

Tattoos and cannabis.  No we didn't go in there.

Tattoos and cannabis. No we didn’t go in there either.

The day was getting late so we pedaled back over the river and returned to the land of the tourists to return our bikes.  The streets on the other side of the river were jam packed with tourists today.  There was no place to ride our bikes on the sidewalks so we tried to ride in the streets.  Big mistake.  All those things I said yesterday about Czech drivers being polite and waiting for us and feeling safe?  Well all those Czech drivers stayed home today and instead all the fast, careless drivers who were all in a terrible hurry took their places on the streets.  They absolutely did not care about cyclists on the road and kept buzzing by only inches from my handlebars. It was not fun. If you’ve read my On The Streets philosophy of riding successfully with cars… NONE OF THESE RULES APPLY IN PRAGUE!!  Do NOT follow my advice in Prague because YOU WILL DIE.

We kept turning onto quieter streets to get away from the crowds and killer traffic and well surprise surprise.  We got lost.  This was after all the fourth time we’ve been to Praha Bike so you’d think that maybe we would have it figured out by now.  After much map consulting and head scratching we finally got there and relinquished our bicycles.  Except for the final hour, we had a blast exploring Prague on two wheels that day.

Street musicians

Street musicians

So very carefully and mindfully we headed back to our hotel.  We didn’t want to get lost again that day.  The town square was insanely crowded with tourists, vendors, street musicians and performers, people peddling tours, carriages and horses. Crazy!  We stopped for a while to listen to some of the various musicians and then noticed two life size statues that we hadn’t noticed before so we walked over to check them out.  I was shocked when one of them moved.  They were two street performers dressed up like statues.  How weird!  We watched them for a while.  They would stand absolutely still and really did fool people.  Every so often they would change poses, often scaring people who were walking by.  I dropped all my Czech coins in their money box to reward them for their cleverness.

Human statue performers

Human statue performers

We made it back to the hotel without getting lost this time (hallelujah) and then contacted our St. Louis friend, Miriam, who just happened to be in Prague too traveling with her sisters.  She was not too far from us so she walked over to our hotel and we went to a restaurant for dinner together.  How fun to have a friend from St. Louis here at the same time.

Tomorrow we meet the rest of the people in our bike tour and leave Prague to stay in Cesky Krumlov for a couple of days of bike riding there.  We really have no idea what to expect as part two of our European adventure begins.  We shall see.

On our way back to our hotel

On our way back to our hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craig made this awesome little video of our two days in Prague. Enjoy!!

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