The plan was simple. Get up slightly late. Have breakfast. Pack, then check just before 11, leaving my bags at the hotel (which has a secure facility for luggage storage). This would give me roughly three and a half hours to wander round, grabbing photos, then a snack or light lunch before heading off to the airport.
The plan actually worked well with the exception of my estimation of getting back to the hotel being totally off. Those who know me appreciate and also tend to have the same attitude that it is worth wandering off the regular beaten path. This, I feel, is what makes us actually travelers, not just tourists (which we also are). So after some pictures of the mechanical Franz Kafka head, I went south towards, in to Praha 2. Everything became less busy and I started to see the buildings mix from the classic Bohemian architecture of old Prague (Praha 1) with the more grey, concrete, utilitarian buildings of the Warsaw Pack days. It was interesting to note that there were a lot of monuments, though all seemed to be to either recent or independence (post 1919) related. Any from the early 50s through to 1990 either had been removed, replaced, else we in the West have over-estimated their commonality. There were, however, a number of dry fountains in green areas with no central component and also no water so I suspect these did have Communist era fountain statues, which were removed and never replaced.
I emerged at the river, between the railway bridge and about the third or fourth road bridge south of Charles Bridge. It’s by an important obelisk, which from the date on it may actually be to mark the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1919, else the short war that followed with Hungary. By this stage I had spent an hour and a half so I started to make my way back slowly to the hotel. Reaching Narodni, I started up to realise it was 1 pm, I had actually got my maths wrong and that I should have wandered south for a further half hour or so. Still I found a small, quiet, enclosed square round the corner from the hotel – from the road you can only see a Czech art gallery – and had a coffee and rather nice cake at the Cafe McQueen.
By the time I got back to the hotel I was still about an hour ahead of schedule, but decided to head off to the airport rather than wander round an area I now knew. The train and bus travel went smoothly (once I worked out how to use the ticket machine), and so I arrived at the airport with just under 3 hours till my flight as due to leave. The one catch was check in/baggage drop was not going to open for another hour. The public side of departures at Prague airport is somewhat boring, and unlike a number of other airports I’ve been to, have no pre-security lounges I may have been able to get in to. Once open, my bag was checked in and I was through security in just a few minutes, to find the airport lounges exclusive. I’m now in the one my plane ticket gives me access to (I have Dragon Pass through my bank account which gives me access to both). It’s not that good, but it helps pass time with free drinks and snacks, plus wifi.
Next stop Heathrow.