Sunday, June 24, 2007
A City Of Surprises
Cyclists cross the suspension bridge over the Vltava near Troja chateau and the Prague Zoo.
I couldn't have asked for more.
I went on a ride this morning and decided I'd do a little exploring, take some different routes, ride some new trails, and hope I'd see some interesting sights along the way.
Prague didn't disappoint me.
It was another gorgeous day, sunny, temperature around 75 degrees (24 Celsius), with puffy cotton clouds glued to a powder blue sky. The sky today reminded me of my favorite painting -- Vermeer's "View of Delft," minus the darker storm cloud in the Vermeer, that is.
Looking downriver from the end of the trail near Nadrazi Holesovice.
I rode from my flat in Prague 6 through Stromovka park, to the bank of the Vltava River, near the bridge that takes cyclists and pedestrians over to the Prague Zoo and the Troja chateau. Instead of crossing, though, I headed upriver on a road and path that followed the riverbank, but which ended after a kilometer or two near the Nadrazi Holesovice train station and a tangle of tracks and industrial wasteland.
I backtracked, crossed the suspension bridge over to Troja, and then headed upriver on that side of the Vltava.
First, I watched some carpenters building a large Trojan horse, of sorts, near some stables. It appeared to me that it was going to be a cafe or something like that. (See picture below.) If that wasn't interesting enough, the carpenters were working as a boombox pounded out ... a Bach concerto.
Then, I ended up running into a kayaking competition that was taking place on a course set up in the river. There was a small crowd cheering on the kayakers. I stopped and watched and realized that these guys are incredible athletes to do what they do. You realize how much strength is involved when you see it up close like that.
Colorful kayaks await their turns in the whitewater.
I continued upriver on a nice cycling path that hugged the bank for a few kilometers and which spit me out in the Prague district of Liben, near Palmovka metro station. There are some parts of Prague that are Dead Zones, forgotten neighborhoods filled with dirty, crumbling buildings, shops that seem stuck in the 1960s or '70s, overgrown parks, and lonely streets populated it seems only by drunken bums and weirdos.
Liben is one of those places. Or at least it was today.
I followed a cycling path that pointed me towards the district of Karlin, badly damaged by the devastating floods of August 2003 but which is now making a comeback.
I soon found myself cycling into some sort of abandoned, overgrown sculpture garden. The place was spooky, cool, and depressing all at the same time. After 10 years, Prague can still surprise me. The sculptures all had a sports theme to them, including one that portrayed a peloton of cyclists. I looked around to see if I could see any evidence of what this place had been, but found none.
I cycled to Karlin, but didn't want to ride on city streets, and so headed back from whence I came.
I cycled back to the Troja chateau, past the Prague Zoo (also badly hit by the 2003 flood), and downriver to the Podbaba ferry crossing. I rode the ferry across to Podbaba, and then headed along the other side of the river to Stromovka park and home.
Distance ridden: 32 kilometers
Average speed: 15.3 kph
Maximum speed: 40.2 kph
Time on the bike: 2.02.04
Distance ridden in 2007: 930 kilometers
The lovely 17th-century Troja Chateau near the Prague Zoo on the banks of the Vltava River.
On Saturday, Daisy and I took a short ride along the usual route from Prague 6 to Sedlec, Roztoky, Unetice, and on to Statenice. We then backtracked and stopped at one of our favorite restaurants, Koliba in Roztoky, which I've written about many times in these pages and which I can't recommend enough.
We enjoyed a few glasses of wine and some shish kebab and grilled vegetables before returning home.
Distance ridden: 28 kilometers
Average speed: 16.9 kph
Maximum speed: 33.8 kph
Time on the bike: 1.38.03
Distance ridden in 2007: 962 kilometers
One of the sports sculptures in the overgrown garden near Liben.
The spires of St. Vitus Cathedral can be seen on the horizon as the summer sun sets on Prague.
A coil of rope on the ferry dock at Podbaba.
A derelict theater and restaurant seems to define the mood on the streets in the haunted neighborhood of Liben.
Daisy and I enjoyed the shish kebab at Koliba, a pretty little restaurant in Roztoky.
There are few places I'd rather be on a summer's evening than sitting at Koliba after a ride, awaiting a plate of grilled meat, sipping a beer or a glass of wine.
I passed this Trojan horse being built at some stables near the zoo. It appears as if it might become a cafe. I was impressed by the workmanship.