Travel & Living

A Bohemian Rhapsody: Off-Beat Things To Do At Prague!

Anu Hasan looks back at a memorable trip!

BY Anu Hasan

A Bohemian Rhapsody – it was something that I had always wanted to say about my holiday -and to be honest, an adjective I would love to apply to me…seems so flamboyant and exotic. But try as I might, I have to accept that I am far from exotic and my middle class tendencies makes me fall just that little bit short of being flamboyant.

So I did the next best thing. Picked a place that was both those things. Prague. The capital of Bohemia.

This was my birthday trip and if you recall, I had mentioned about my birthday gift to myself. A fitter me. I was going to have to be that because I had plenty of climbing and walking planned.

I was staying in a renovated chateau in the outskirts of Prague. It was the weirdest room I had ever seen in my life! I mean  – have you ever had a huge bathtub next to the bed?? No curtain either! I gaped at it and thanked my stars I wasn’t travelling with anyone else. I didn’t think the idea of me having a shower at the foot of my bed was a great one – leave alone having someone else do it!!! Bohemian my foot! (of the bed!!)

The first day, had on the cards a horse ride and a trip into the city. No I wasn’t going to ride into the city like a marauding invader (although that does sound rather fun) I was going to take the bus.

Walking to the stables, I saw this beautiful black stallion. I stepped up to him and stroked him and he nuzzled me gently. I wanted to take a picture of him and as I held up the camera for a picture of both of us, he immediately turned and displayed his profile. I thought it was an accident and I tried doing it once more. Every time I lifted the phone, he would turn. I went in for a second shot, when he nuzzled me and nudged me so hard I nearly lost my balance making me laugh. Looked like he was telling me to get on with life and so I did. The ride itself was rather tame and uneventful. And I thanked the stable hand for the experience and I set out to the busstop and waited for the bus.

I didn’t know the ticketing system and I was a bit nervous cos I didn’t want to get caught for ticketless travel. Wanting to be bohemian is all good but I do draw the line at being a cheapskate! I got into the bus, walked up to the driver, asked him for the ticket.I nervously watched as he started driving the bus and took my money, counted change, issued my ticket . Every time he took his eyes OFF the road, I would quickly look AT it, As if by doing so, I could ensure the safety of the bus! But he obviously did this all the time and it was a deserted country road. So there weren’t any arguments with a vehicle or a tree.

Reaching the city centre, I wandered about the town square. I laughed unabashedly at the huge panda and polar bear that were taking pictures with children, gawked at a horse drawn carriage with a couple posing, photographed a bride getting out of the car at the town hall – well pretty much everything touristy – including joining a guided tour.

It lasted 2 hours , and Prague is undoubtedly a gorgeous city with fabulous history. But with the guide droning in a tone that reminded me why I hated history class, I was beginning to get distracted. But it did have its moments. She pointed out a tower which afforded panoramic views of the city. She added that there was no lift up the 170 steps. When she commented that nearby was a place that served great coffee and cakes, my genius brain put two and two together. I could come back, burn the calories and put it back again.

But I was hungry before that and when I stopped for lunch, I ordered too much food. Again. And over ate. Again – because my middle class sensibilities wouldn’t let me waste food!

But I had the Powder Tower to tackle and that assuaged my guilt somewhat. I climbed up the tower but I sacrificed the dessert..ok I lied. I did order the dessert after and it was such a disappointment that I ate just two spoons of it. But when I retell the story I shall say “I sacrificed the dessert.” Deal? ( I got a message yesterday from my sister warning me not to get fooled by the good looking dessert in Prague  – but like all good advice it came too late!)

By the end of the day I had walked abut 15 km and my knee was holding up fine and I wasn’t too tired either. I patted myself on the back for improving my fitness and got on board the river cruise I had booked.

It was starting at 6 pm and finishing at ten and I had been cautious and asked my hotel to book a cab back for me. Not for this Trichy chica, a late night bus ride into the deserted Czech countryside.

The cruise was just what I wanted after an entire day spent walking. I just chilled and drank my hot chocolate and ate my dinner and took photographs. At ten when we docked, I walked across to the rendezvous point for my cab just as the cab drove in.

I peered into it and said “Cab for Anu ?” and he said “Anu hasan?” I said yes. And he nodded. I hopped in. And the driver paused. And then turned to me and said “Doe Ctênice?” or something that sounded like that…I recognized the word “Ctênice” since that was the name of the area where I was staying. And I said “Ano” – which I thought was yes in Czech…he paused and I wondered if I had said no. And then he seemed to make up his mind and started the car. In retrospect I think he was wondering what this Indian woman was doing, going to the middle of nowhere at this time of the night. I never got to find out because he turned the radio on and we drove in silence.

It was past eleven by the time I reached my hotel. I walked into my room, smiled at the bathtub at the foot of my bed, turned in for the night.

As holidays go, I think this is the closest to Bohemian I can get. Maybe the next six days will up the ante.

Dobrý Den Praha  (that’s “Good day Prague” in Czech and it sounds exotic enough for me!)

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