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Prague: beer, boots and bohemia

Friday, June 24, 2011
Visiting Prague was a wish come true for Dermott Brereton. The capital of the Czech Republic is one of Europe's most beautiful cities and it didn't disappoint.

Prague was spared much of the damage suffered by Europe in World War II and has a superb array of gothic and baroque architecture, art nouveau and cubist facades. Music is a very important of the city's charm and Prague hosts jazz, rock, classical music and opera festivals.

History is everywhere and part of the city's charm is exploring medieval lanes, hidden passages in the old town, wooded parks and the Vltava River lined with cafes and restaurants and crossed by a series of bridges.

Dermott was convinced that he could soak up the city and have some fun on stilts that bounce. He strapped on carbon-fibre boots, almost a metre high, and after considerable uncertainty, he got the knack.

The new craze is called "powerbocking". Part extreme sport, part novelty adventure, it involves bouncing, running and boinging 1.5m in the air. Strides of 2.5m can have you travelling at around 30km/h.

He joined Michaela Rybarova and the Bounce Clan on a city tour. Staromestské námestí (Old Town Square) is the city's traditional heart. Brightly coloured houses look to be solidly 18th century, but baroque facades hide older buildings.

It was the city's marketplace from the 11th century and all roads in Bohemia led to it. Merchants from all over Europe gathered there.

Wenceslas Square is the other main square and is a vibrant place of hotels, apartments, restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. The wide boulevard was laid out more than 600 years ago and was used as the Prague horse market. Named in honour of Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia, there is a statue of him on horseback at the top of the square. He is a national hero.

The square can comfortably take up to 40,000 people and in summer outdoor dining is the go and the Christmas market attracts visitors from around the world.

The Prague Astronomical Clock was installed in 1410. The medieval clock was the world's third-oldest astronomical clock and the only one still working. Its astronomical dial represents the position of the sun and moon. Each hour there is the Walk of the Apostles and other moving sculptures strike the time. There is a calendar dial with medallions representing months.

Dermott and the gang bounced their way to the Charles Bridge. It was begun by Charles IV to replace an earlier bridge which had been washed away in floods. It was completed in 1400 but not named until the 19th century.

The wonderful old bridge is lined with 30 statues of saints and has withstood wheeled traffic for more than 600 years — some say thanks to eggs being added to the mortar. Even World War II and 2002's disastrous floods couldn't conquer the 550m-long Charles Bridge. You can though, and it's closed to traffic.

It can become pretty crowded in summer months, but it's worth walking over to see the hawkers, sketch artists and buskers, and views are good. Legend says that if you rub a plaque you will return to Prague.

If you fancy walking — or bouncing — your way around Prague there are endless things to see, including Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral and the panorama from Petrin Hill.

Prague has discovered gourmet eateries, but there are still traditional restaurants and pubs to enjoy what locals like to eat — usually accompanied by a fine Czech ale, something they have been brewing since the ninth century.

Location

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

Cost

Emirates has flights to Prague and 26 other European destinations via Dubai departing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. For an exclusive Getaway viewers' discount, visit www.emirates.com/getaway.

Prices correct at June 25, 2011.

For further information

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
www.emirates.com/getaway

Kempinski Hybernska Prague
Hybernska 12 Prague 1
Czech Republic
Ph: +420 226 226 111
Fax: +420 226 226 123
reservations.prague@kempinski.com

Visa: Australian citizens must have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Electricity:230V at 50Hz using two round-pin plugs.

Time zone: GMT +1.

Currency: Koruna (CZK).

International dialling code: +420.

User comments
The city was a great place, plenty to see and we ended up eating beef goulash every night as it was so good!!! If you are keen for a walk up a hill, there is a bavarian style restaurant near the monestary at the top of Petrin Park, had a nice pizza pie there. Also, an hour by train to Kutna Hora was a great half day trip to see the Bone church there (the Sedlec Ossuary) - it's a nice town as well. Also a 45min trip from Prague on another train line took us to Karlstejn castle. Set in the hills it looked like something out of Disney and was well worth the visit. Oh and Prague has some of the longest subway escalators I have ever seen, one took nearly 1 min to decend.
hi
...city of "fun" all right, you forgot to mention that an estimated 25% of Prague's GDP stems from organised crime (in fact 3 people got shot on the streets today!) ...it's the centre of drugs and prostitution in Europe and has seen it's fair share of human trafficking. Beware of Wenceslas Sq at night. Mary Lou have fun visiting your daughter!
My daughter is in Prague travelling around and has fallen in love with this great city. My daughter says the houses are amazing and it is steeped in history. She wants me to come over now so she can show me around, unfortunately it is not always that easy.

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