Friday, 22 January 2016

Prague - Under Wintry Skies 2016

In February 2008, the New York Times published an article called "Under Wintry Skies, A City Revealed" written by Evan Rail. Things have changed a lot in eight years - many of the places mentioned no longer exist, the exchange rate of 18.29 Kc to the Dollar is ancient history (at today's bank rates a dollar now buys you 24.78 Kc!), and the days of streets devoid of tourists even in the depths of winter are long gone.

Right now, even the temperature comparisons are significantly different to his experience. We're currently experiencing much lower temperatures than traditional seasonal averages,

 with highs of -5C and lows as low as-13C. Whereas this time last year we had a couple of isolated snow days, this year we've experienced many more days and much more persistent snow.

I'm the first to admit, that Prague looks gorgeous under a snowy mantle - and my view from the tram stop, looking over the Vlatava to the castle, has been transformed into a wintry wonderland over the last couple of weeks. Walking around Prague in the snow is a different matter altogether. Snow, ice, cobblestones and marble pavements do not make the pedestrian's lot a happy one.

Sub-zero temperatures no longer seem to have quite the same effect on tourist numbers. Walking back along the Charles Bridge on Sunday was even more fraught with danger than usual. The relentless movement of people ambling across the bridge had created icy furrows down each side of the path with what appeared to be an inverted luge run down the middle. It seemed an endless trek to get back onto Smetanovo nábřeží and the safety of the Pent-Palace. It's not all bad news on the tourist front - the cold climes do seem to have caused a drop in the numbers of rowdy drinkers slopping out of Karlovy lázně at 5:00am! You rarely see rowdy Japanese tourists, and hear them even less! Unfortunately I do still hear the odd drunken Brit, but the novelty of going to Prague for stag/hen parties does seem to have worn off - at least for the time being.

In his article, Evan Rail talks about grey, overcast skies but I have to disagree there as well. The constantly changing light in the city is one of its greatest attractions for me. Rarely are the skies just grey. There are subtle pinks, mauves and blues on most days, and when the sun breaks through both the castle and the buildings around Muzeum Bedřicha Smetany shimmer like gold.

Off to a new venue tonight - The Red Rooms bar where our mate Jill is performing tonight. And off to see Paper Kites at the Rock Cafe on Tuesday. Luckily both places are within 10 minutes walk through the's dropping to -11C tonight!