New way to see old Prague
Chalkmarks Prague

I’M starting to wobble.

I’m in the Czech Republic but it’s not their famous beer that’s to blame.

I’m on a Segway tour of Prague.

Despite looking slightly ridiculous, it is the best way to explore lesser-known parts of the capital tucked away down the narrow cobbled alleyways.

There was a breathless moment when I first stepped on to this madcap machine. I held the steering column tight and jerked slightly forward.

After a few nervous test rides with our guide we had lift off and within ten minutes our group was revving along happily as we reached Letná Park for a panoramic view of this City of Spires.

A golden age came to Prague when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire during the 14th century.

This 25-hectare green, urban space has picnic tables, playgrounds, landscaped areas and other parts left as unmaintained woodland.

The best part though are the numerous historic landmarks laid out below

St Vitus Cathedral, which took six centuries to finish, dominates the skyline with its shadowy towers and piercing steeples. There’s also Prague Castle and Charles Bridge – two of the cities main attractions.

Eager to see more our team of riders pushed on passing the floating bars and the beer gardens such as U Pinkasů, U Malvaze and U Černého vola on the riverbanks.

At 5mph we sailed single file into the simmering afternoon through the shady streets making the birds fly out of the trees as we went.

It felt like we were digging around an old chest from the Middle Ages finding monuments, towers, ornate lampposts, and statues surprised to find that so much is intact to this day.

The city centre is formed of the Old Town – the original town of Prague – the confusingly named New Town but built 600 years ago and the Lesser District – the settlement around the 1,000-year-old castle.

A golden age came to Prague when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire during the 14th century.

Eager to see more our team of riders pushed on passing the floating bars and the beer gardens such as U Pinkasů, U Malvaze and U Černého vola on the riverbanks.

At 5mph we sailed single file into the simmering afternoon through the shady streets making the birds fly out of the trees as we went.

In the golden candle light, I ordered another beer. It was heaven!

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Baku in the (old) USSR

The ambition was to create the most beautiful city in the world and it certainly tops the bill with the Vltava River splitting the city down the middle.

It took us three hours to complete the tour after which I sought out another leisurely activity – that’s eating and drinking.

I wolfed down a sweet pastry Trdelník from the Old Town Square but these treats can be picked up from street sellers and bakeries around the city centre.

It’s similar to a doughnut with a dusting of sugar that’s been wrapped and baked around a stick.

I stayed at the Park Inn hotel, a converted 1907 building with an art deco façade. Once inside though it’s modern and business-like with white walls, dark wooden panelling and comfy leather sofas.

My room was light, bright and spotless – simply furnished with a wooden table, red chair and bed.

And back downstairs there’s also a bar and restaurant serving an international menu with a few Czech specialities including dumplings and potato pancakes.

If you’re planning on being out and about, it’s conveniently located close to the river and the tram.

That evening I headed to the Staropramen brewery for a tasting of some good old Czech lager. Just like their Gothic and baroque relics, this beer is a source of national pride.

Established in 1869, the brick factory is an iconic landmark, built with enough space for a malting floor for barley sprouting, a brew house, boiler room, engine room, a yard and basements filled with refrigerators.

Located on the banks of the Vltava, the Staropramen – meaning Old Spring – visitor centre is lit up at night with golden spotlights.

For more than a century, they have been making the pale draught larger Pilsen, which is claimed to have inspired two thirds of all the world’s beer.

At the end of the tour that traced the history of the company, a spiral staircase led us to the bar below for a tasting of their smooth yet crisp premium, non-filtered, garnet and dark brews.

Needless to say I bought quite a few souvenirs as you can’t find their speciality lagers in supermarkets at home.

The next day I treated myself to a full English breakfast at the hotel from the vast buffet that included cheeses, cold meats and porridge.

After a strong coffee I set on off on a four-hour drive following the Vltava – meaning wild river – into South Bohemia to the handsome yet overlooked city Český Krumlov.

Leaving the crowded capital behind, I drove through deep wooded forests, valleys and tall cliffs.

Soon appearing from the hills came a mini-Prague with the lofty tower Church of St Vitus.

I checked in at the Hotel Růže once a former Jesuit dormitory from the 16th century with its original arches and tapestries.

The simple life of the monks has been left far behind as the hotel is fitted with an indoor swimming pool, sauna and fitness centre.

The character and ambience of the past remains though with the dark wooden floors, antique furniture and heavy beds. Outside the window was a view of the red rooftops and stone streets of the city centre.

This time I didn’t climb on to a two-wheeled contraption to get around the tiny, narrow streets thick with souvenir shops, taverns and restaurants close to the water.

Having fallen into disrepair during the communist era of Czechoslovakia, restoration work has put this small town on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites alongside Prague.

It’s difficult to find such impressive architecture in any European city but here it is in the countryside with Český Krumlov castle showing off its Gothic and Baroque architecture.

In keeping with its 13th century history, the tradition of keeping brown bears inside the dry moat continues. Legend has it that the four bears were given to the Rosenberg family in the 17 century and more importantly they must remain forever.

As the evening drew in, I had another beast to feed – hunger.

Much of Czech food is hearty with pork or beef dishes served with boiled dumplings, potatoes or bread to soak up the thick, rich sauces.

You’re likely encounter the speciality garlic soup – a very potent broth but said to be a good hangover cure.

I settled in at the underground Katakomby Grill Restaurant entered through a narrow entrance and down some winding stairs, which then opened up, into a warm cavernous dinning room.

After the soup, I chose the dumplings and pork knuckle. It was food to drink to so in keeping with Czech tradition, I drained a beer.

In the golden candle light, I ordered another. It was more like heaven.

Book it

Hotel Park Inn Prague 
Hotel Růže (Český Krumlov)
Brewery Staropramen
Prague Segway Tour for three hours
For more information visit https://www.czechtourism.com

Chalkmarks makes Czech press

  • Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic in the western region known as Bohemia

  • The city centre is formed of the Old Town – the original town of Prague – the confusingly named New Town but built 600 years ago and the Lesser District – the settlement around the 1,000-year-old castle

  • St Vitus Cathedral, which took six centuries to finish, dominates the skyline with its shadowy towers and piercing steeples. There’s also Prague Castle and Charles Bridge – two of the cities main attractions

  • A golden age came to Prague when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire during the 14th century

  • Prague is the home to Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar, and Staropramen, which means Old Spring – it was established in 1869 and is located on the banks of the Vltava

  • Letná Park is a 25-hectare green, urban space that has picnic tables, playgrounds, landscaped areas and woodland

  • Czech food is hearty with pork or beef dishes served with boiled dumplings, potatoes or bread to soak up the thick, rich sauces

  • You’re likely encounter the speciality garlic soup – a very potent broth but said to be a good hangover cure

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