After our refreshment we went inside the main gate that opened up into a spectacular courtyard overshadowed by the soaring towers of St Vitus’ Cathedral, which looking up it was framed against a big blue sky and the gargoyles peered out menacingly from the stonework.
We walked around the outside of the Cathedral and came across a wedding party having photographs taken but we were not sure if it was a genuine celebration or just a photo shoot, no-one seemed especially happy so I was inclined to the latter.
We paid to go into an area of the castle called Golden Lane, which was a street of artisan’s houses that had predictably been transformed into craft shops for the tourists. But here was an interesting exhibition of medieval armour and dress and a particularly unpleasant collection of torture equipment and entrance to a restored watchtower. Around the exterior of the castle there was an attractive garden walk underneath the high castle walls and with especially good views over the whole of the city.
It was hot and we had been on our feet for a long time so we stopped to rest and admire the Cathedral for a short while before we moved on and went inside. It was a very good Cathedral and for a while we successfully joined onto the end of a guided tour to take advantage of the guide’s informative narrative. We went down into the crypt that housed some royal tombs but we didn’t tackle the spiral staircase to the top of the tower because we simply could not face another.
Leaving the Cathedral and the castle we agreed that we liked this part of the city more than the others and we passed out of the gates and past a trio of musicians performing traditional Czech music and we listened for a while but hurried on before the collection hat came out.
At the Charles Bridge we discovered a nice pavement bar underneath the arches and stopped for a beer in the sunshine. The bar was part of a hotel and inside there was an interesting feature; the stonework of the original Judith Bridge, (which preceded the Charles Bridge on this site) passed through reception, which completely denied access to all but the able bodied. I was intrigued about the lack of commitment to equality and diversity and this confirmed my view that it is only in Britain that we are compelled to comply with the plethora of European Union regulations.
Rested and refreshed we returned for the meal that we had promised ourselves at the restaurant that was permanently full. At five o’clock it was empty and we presented ourselves for our meal but were forced to reconsider and leave because the temperature inside was several degrees above what would be regarded as comfortable and the late afternoon ambiance in the restaurant was stuffy and oppressive, which wasn’t helped by an abundance of candles and no natural ventilation.
Instead we went back to the Nerudova, which was an interesting street full of baroque architecture that was home to a number of Embassy buildings. We choose to eat at a restaurant recommended by our hotel receptionist at the house of the three little fiddles, so named because it was previously the home of a family of violin makers about three hundred years ago or so.
We were the only diners, which made me feel a little self-conscious and the food took some time to come. We decided that this was either because the chef hadn’t turned up for work on time or the food would be very good. Happily it was the latter and after what seemed an age we enjoyed our best meal of the week, the food was excellent and there was an attention to detail that had been lacking elsewhere. Suitably impressed we paid our bill, left an appropriate tip and returned to the hotel for our luggage and our prearranged taxi to the airport.
What an experience that turned out to be. An unmarked vehicle arrived and we loaded our luggage in the boot and then the driver took us away from the city on a completely unexpected route.
After a few miles driving through the suburbs we both began to feel uneasy, I was certain that we were being abducted and I think Kim thought so too. I had read about these things and I was beginning to contemplate my last days on earth spent in a basement cellar being force-fed frankfurters and cabbage before being routinely frogmarched to an ATM to clear out my bank account. I was contemplating trying to secretly destroy my cards and send a text message to anyone back home informing them of my plight but then we saw signs for the airport and I started to relax.
There had been no reason to worry and the driver drove us directly to the airport and the departure terminal. We took our bags, thanked him and I realised that I needed the bar!