Prague: Boat Trip, Old Town Hall, Vyšehrad, Etc.

According to the weather forecast, today will be the last day without rain during my stay in Prague. Consequently, I thought it would be a good day to do mostly outdoor activities. These included a boat tour, a visit to Old Town Hall, a visit to a park, and some meandering.

Prague Boat Tour

The company that provided the boat tour called it “Prague Venice.” Sorry. I’ve been to Venice. You’re no Venice.

The cruise was enjoyable nonetheless.

As it turned out, the boat was completely enclosed, except for the gangway. Consequently, the pictures below were shot through a window, with the resultant reflections and other distortions. It also meant that I didn’t really have to do it on a nice day.

The 45-minute tour did

  • A misshapen figure-eight on the Vltava River, with the crossover under Charles Bridge.
  • A very brief cruise up the Čertovka Canal until the boat had to turn around because a waterwheel made it to narrow for a boat our size.
  • And then downstream a bit on the Vltava before turning back.

The tour provided disposable earbuds to listen to a recorded commentary in the language of my choice. Every once in a while, the ship’s captain (the only staff member onboard) added his own comments, solely in English. Sometimes he spoke in the gaps in the taped commentary. Other times he spoke over it.

Often he added additional information. Sometimes, however, he repeated what the recorded commentary told me.

The captain also showed some photographs, such as one of the water level during the great flood of 2002 and another of the iced-over river one winter some unknown (to me) years ago. The Vltava doesn’t ice over any more. It stopped when they built dams on the river. The water released from the damns remains a few degrees above freezing throughout the winter, hence the lack of sufficient ice to freeze over completely.

Old Town Hall

If you bothered to read my introductory paragraph you might be asking yourself, “The Old Town Hall? I thought he was going to do only outdoor activities on what’s supposed to be his last clement day in Prague? Why the heck did the old fool waste it going to the Old Town Hall?”

Old fool? That’s terribly rude of you. True though they may be, you should keep those thoughts to yourself.

The reason I went today is one of the primary attractions of Prague’s Old Town Hall is supposedly the astronomical clock mounted on one of its walls. On the outside of one of its walls. See? That’s why.

For the life of me, looking at the clock, I couldn’t tell what time it was. However, the attraction of the clock is that every hour it puts on a show.

Prague Old Town Hall Clock
Prague Old Town Hall Clock

People seem to line up from just after one show until the next top-of-the-hour. I didn’t. Instead, I got there less than 15 minutes before noon and stood behind a bunch of people. The clock was mounted high enough on the wall that, even though I’m not full adult height, I got a good view.

The show consisted of bells peeling for a couple of minutes and some figures scrolling past the two small windows near the top. You can barely see the two windows in the picture to the right. They’re just below the arch. So you can imagine how small the figures were.

I was going to take a video of the show, but you’d barely be able to make out any movement on the video. What’s more, I thought it was totally unimpressive. I don’t know why people lined up for it and the tour books regarded it as a highlight. Maybe I’m jaded, but, ho hum.

For me, the highlights of the Old Town Hall were its interiors and the views from its towers. The views included birds-eye perspectives of the buildings around the square, along with vistas of the surrounding area.

Take a look at the following pictures, first of the views from the tower, then of the interiors of the Old Town Hall. They’re way better than the clock. Am I right?

Vyšehrad Park

A walk in a park seemed appropriate on a gorgeous day like today. Vyšehrad Park is a biggish park on top of a hill, a fair walk from central Prague.

It’s a well-treed, grassy park that is good for relaxing on a sunny day.

But, wait. There’s more!

Vyšehrad used to be a fortress. I took in some amazing views from the tops of its bluffs and during a walk on its ramparts. Views like these:

But, wait. There’s still more.

In Vyšehrad there is a smallish, neo-Gothic church, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Too bad they didn’t include Mary. It would have been more folksy. And ahead of its time.

Compared to major Gothic churches In Europe, it was underwhelming, but handsome. (Have I ever mentioned that I totally suck at describing such things?)

Here are some pictures.

But, wait. There’s, well, you know.

Beside the Basilica of Saints Peter, Paul and not Mary, is the National Cemetery. Notable people were buried there. Notable to Czechs, less so to me. With one exception.

The famous Czech composer Antonín Leopold Dvořák was buried there. I saw his grave. And I have the picture to prove it.

Grave of Antonín Leopold Dvořák

But, you know the drill.

I also saw an 11th-century Romanesque rotunda (the Rotunda of St. Martin), statues of mythical figures, a small art gallery housing exactly 10 paintings done by one modern local artist (no photo below), and the Vyšehrad Gothic Cellar, which housed archaeological artifacts.


In addition to the above, I also did considerable meandering through Prague to get from one destination to another. Here are some photos from along the way.

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