Prague is a gob-smackingly beautiful city. One of the best things to do as a visitor is simply wander around the centre, lose yourself in the maze of cobbled streets and admire the many pretty buildings.
The one potential problem with this plan?
A typical July in Prague, I am reliably informed, is scorching hot. Not this year. Frankly I am surprised that there is any water left in the sky given the recent relentless downpours. And then there were the terrifying storms last week which left people screaming while running for cover to dodge the lighting bolts which rained down along with the, erm, rain.
So, should you find yourself on holiday in Prague (or you’re Prague based but entertaining visitors from Blighty) and find the weather to be almost as inhospitable as a Czech checkout lady, here are some ideas for some ways to explore the city while staying dry.
1. Go to the pub.
No trip to Prague would be complete without paying a visit to a local hostelry and sampling authentic Czech beer. And then there’s the grub. Dumplings are tasty but somehow it doesn’t feel right to scoff down that kind of stomach lining, hearty fare when it’s sweltering hot outside. Use the poor weather as an excuse: indulge yourself with food that would give the health police a heart attack! If you’re a knedliky virgin, I recommend you try them at lunchtime: it will be cheaper (most pubs have a special low-price menu in the middle of the day) and your digestive system will be better prepared to deal with the onslaught of stodge.
2. If you’re teetotal, try a tea house.
Inclement weather is a good excuse to explore another Czech phenomenon: the tea house or čajovná. Don’t expect little old ladies serving scones with clotted cream though. Tea houses were established after Communism as an alternative to the smoke-filled Czech pub. They’re a place where people can get together and hang out over a hot beverage without having to face a hangover the next day. You choose from a vast menu of teas from Lapsang Souchong to first flush darjeeling. Don’t ask for milk though. Or coffee.
3. The Cinema, Czech Style.
Yes, I know you have cinemas back home. But can you sit in a deck chair? Or a vintage car? Bio Oko is a twenty-minute tram ride from tourist-tastic central Prague, but more than merits a visit. And you’ll be supporting independent cinema too: hurrah! Don’t panic: all English language films are in the original version and many others are subtitled. Check out their program here.
4. Take an Underground Tour
If it’s raining above ground, why not take an underground tour? Lots of tourists pay the 100kc to climb (or take the lift) to the top of the tower in the Old Town Hall on Staroměstské náměstí (aka Old Town Square). Few bother to pay an extra 50kc to go on a tour of the rest of the building as part of which you’re led through a maze of underground chambers and passageways, some of which are 9 metres below the square itself. You’ll be shown chambers where medieval prisoners were starved to death and the Nazis locked up their opponents. Is it worrying that I find this stuff fascinating?
5. Do what you were going to do anyway, but wearing a waterproof.
If you’re English, you’re more than used to the weather conspiring to ruin your holiday plans. Do what you would do at home if you were on a sightseeing trip and the heavens suddenly opened. Keep calm, don your kagoule, and carry on.