Well, I felt completely recovered this morning, but Ness had now caught a cold and was feeling pretty ropey, and despite trying to convince herself otherwise, she was not really up to sightseeing today. We had some breakfast and went out to find a pharmacy for some cold cure, and a bank to get some cash. Then we split up and Ness headed back to the hotel while I went off to spend the day mooching around.
Without Ness it felt a little pointless and I felt at a loose end, and just wandered around rather aimlessly, not too bothered about specific sightseeing. I took pictures here and there, and generally made my way towards the main old town square, Staroměstské náměstí. Before I got there I turned into one of the many smaller side streets and found a secluded little courtyard along a street, with a terrace café where I settled down for a spot of diary writing (I’m several days behind again, though not so bad as I am at this moment, sat on the ferry out of Zeebrugge with nine days to catch up!) There was a small outlet that was renting out …erm… “those things you stand on, with two wheels and a stick and they go” (Segway?) I thought about it but decided to stick to the coffees and diary writing.
After having caught up a couple of days, over three or four coffees, I continued to stroll around Prague. First I took a look round Staroměstské náměstí, thick with tourists, and stalls and cafés catering to them. It had definitely become much more touristic since our previous visit in 1999, and it was already very tourist back then. (Apart from Buenos Aires) It was the only place on our travels for which we had a past reference to compare with, and it was actually not very pleasant. Prague itself was still picturesque, full of beautiful and characterful architecture, but the overwhelming touristic presence was all the more noticeable now. Anyway, Staroměstské náměstí was stunning, with the large monument to Jan Hus in one quarter, with ornate buildings around the sides, towers, churches, etc. The little streets all around the square led off in various directions. I tried to imagine how they would look on a bitter winter’s day, or late a night.
I arrived at the Karlův most, the famous Charles Bridge, an old stone bridge which spans the wide river Vltava, and which is full of religious statues, as well as tourists, craft vendors and musicians. I slowly made my way across, stopping to listen to a band and just “people watch”. At the other end of the bridge was the Malá Strana (“Lesser Quarter”) part of town and, just before the blackened stone bridge tower, the hotel we had stayed at before, U Tří Pštrosů (“At the Sign of the Three Ostriches”). It was still very much in business but there was now a new terrace on some decking and it seemed a café first and a hotel only secondarily. Still, it was a pleasant spot to stop for another drink and another bit of diary writing and people-watching. I could hear lots of American English being spoken around me.
I continued to meander around this general area for a while, looking at the amazing photographs in an open-air exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with views of the earth seen from the air. I just strolled in and out and around the little streets and tried to get some good shots. I stopped to ask a photography question from a Chinese guy at a shop. I saw him with all the equipment and laboriously taking a close-up of an enamel cup and saucer so figured he knew about photography. I spotted a restaurant at a square where we had had a meal on our first visit, and which I had imagined/remembered as being in Seville or Barcelona or something (just goes to show why keeping a diary is useful). By now it was mid- to late-afternoon and I slowly made my way back across the bridge and then followed a slightly different route back towards the wide shopping street/square.
We had texted each other a couple of times already by now. Mama called me, just as I was getting close to the hotel, about our visit to Brussels and whether we would be stopping off on our way back to the UK, etc. Then I headed to the room and found Ness still feeling yuck, and we stayed in that night, neither of us in the mood or bothered about going out for something – there would be another day tomorrow.