It’s cold here. Like, really cold. In fact, I don’t like this one bit! This is Prague in the depths of a cold winter spell and, to be honest, the Czech’s can keep it! Give me London drizzle any day!
The plan was to get away from it all for a few days and take in the sights, culture and history of a scenic European city. I’d played around with destinations, flights, hotels and prices on various travel websites for a few days before finally booking Prague. Now, there are countless cities I’ve yet to visit and my top ten is ever-changing. But somehow I’d chosen to visit somewhere I’d been to twice already.
The trouble is, I cannot recall ever stepping foot there before. The first time I went was back in 1997 when I was 17 years old. It was a school trip but, to be quite honest, I was too young to appreciate it. The second time was for a friend’s stag do a couple of years ago. Needless to say, if you told me I went to Miami, I’d have believed you because I simply cannot remember one thing about the trip.
The Charles Bridge
So this was my chance to finally absorb the wonders of this fascinating city armed, of course, with my camera. I spent the week prior to flying out, trawling the likes of 500px (quite simply the best photography on the internet) for inspiration and ideas regarding photography. I always like to compile a shortlist of photos I want to take before embarking on any photography outing. I made my list, freshly-formatted my 64gb worth of memory cards, and boarded the plane.
So, how many photos did I come back with? 250? Nope, not even close. 400? Pah! You’re miles off. I’ll save you the trouble and just tell you. It was 52.
I had planned to come back to the UK with my memory cards packed with creative and unique shots of the city and its fabulous architecture. But there was a severe hurdle hindering that wish. It was -16C and I was frozen to the bone the entire time! I have to admit this did limit my enthusiasm for taking my camera bag off my back, routing around for lenses, removing my gloves, composing the shot and then putting it away until the next photo opportunity arose. Pathetic I know.
A panorama of the City
But let’s ignore my feeble attempts to battle what most Eastern Europeans might see as a normal winter, and turn our attention back to Prague. If you haven’t been, just go. Take your other half, or just go alone and tell the wife you’ve got a business trip.
On the first night, my girlfriend and I left our apartment at about 9pm to locate a nice restaurant for a romantic dinner. As we stepped outside in to the cobbled backstreets, a fresh layer of snow was falling. It turned the city silent. The orange glow of the street lights made the snow-covered alleys and streets look comforting and cosy. We walked a few blocks before settling on a quaint-looking French restaurant. Peering through the tiny windows revealed candlelit couples, sharing elegantly-prepared food, sipping on dark red wine. The scene was too inviting to pass, especially when you consider it was also 40 degrees celcius warmer in there!
A couple of hours of romantic chat, food and drink and you’re suddenly reminded why these city breaks are so popular. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?
The following morning, we decided to make use of the only full day available to us. So we awoke early, wrapped up in our six layers of clothing and three pairs of socks, and stepped outside. Our first stop, Prague Castle.
From there, we wandered round the mesmerising city streets, taking in the Old Jewish Cemetery, the world-famous Astronomical Clock and, of course, numerous cafes (where I embarrassingly discovered than lemon juice and milk do not mix well together in tea).
The city, its buildings and the Vltava River lend themselves to great photography. You really don’t need to hunt and scout for photo opportunities. You could stay routed to one spot and easily come away with a dozen different, yet impressive shots. I can’t imagine Prague looking any more impressive than it does in winter.
Sunset over Prague
The following day, it was time to pack and head home. I wish we’d stayed for a few days longer. I wish it wasn’t so damn cold. I wish I’d taken more photos. But, despite this, I landed in London content that I’d finally taken the time to appreciate the wonderful city of Prague. Would I go back a fourth time? Definitely!
Now, where’s that top ten list?
Author – Oliver Pohlmann