Saturday, 25 April 2015

Getting Around Prague - The Metro

Prague has three metro lines - A (green), B (yellow) and C (red). The lines cross at only three stations (Můstek, Muzeum and Florenc), all of which are in the centre of the city and are actually not that far from each other. In other words if you want to change lines you have to go into the centre and then come out again, so you may find it easier to hop on a tram instead. It is also worth noting that some of the central stations are very close together and that it may be easier to walk to your destination. Metro stations, especially the interchange ones, are often large and will have several exits. It is a good idea to study a map carefully and note the roads to which the stations exit. Only a limited number of stations have lifts.

Line A goes from Depo Hostivař in the west of the city to in the Nemocnice Motel east. Some of the key stations on the line are
  • Náměstí Míru - an important interchange for trams and an area where you will find many hotels 
  • Muzeum - located at the top of Wenceslas Square next to the National Museum
  • Můstek - also located on Wenceslas Square (halfway up and at the bottom): Můstek is also useful for visiting the Old Town Square
  • Staroměstská - also for the Old Town plus the Jewish quarter
  • Malostranská - the area below the castle known as the Lesser Town or Malá Strana
  • Hradčanská - for the castle (saves the climb up from Malostranská)
  • Nadrazi Veleslavin Metro Station - for the 119 bus to the airport.
Line B goes from Černý Most in the west to Zličín in the east. Some of the key stations on the line are:
  • Černý Most, a major bus station with buses departing for Český Ráj and other areas in the north
  • Florenc, the main bus station with buses departing for Brno, and many other Czech and international destinations
  • Náměstí Republiky, for the Municipal House (Obecní dům) and the Old Town
  • Můstek, for Wenceslas Square and the Old Town
  • Národní třída, on the edge of the New Town, useful for the National Theatre and as a tram stop (the very useful number 9 tram stops there)
  • Karlovo náměstí - for tram connections and the New Town
  • Andel - bus station with buses departing for Cesky Krumlov and South and West Bohemia
  • Zličín - for the number 100 airport bus and buses to Plzen and West Bohemia
Line C goes from Letňany in the north to Haje in the south west. Some of the key stations on the line are:
  • Nádraží Holešovice - for the train station of the same name and the bus to the Zoo and Troja Palace
  • Vltavská - for the Veletrzni Palac Modern Art Museum and Holešovice
  • Florenc - the main bus station with buses departing for Brno, and many other Czech and international destinations  
  • Hlavní nádraží - the Main Train Station, also convenient for the National Museum
  • I. P. Pavlova - for the New Town and an area where you will find many hotels
  • Vyšehrad - for Vyšehrad castle and cemetery
Trains on the metro are frequent and generally of a high standard. Crowding is not as bad as on the London Tube, but it is a good idea to avoid the rush hour (3pm - 5pm). Trains do not run after midnight.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A Walk on the Palava - a photographic record

I spoke a few weeks about how lovely walking on the Palava Hills can be, especially when the Spring flowers were out. And now here is a post to prove it. I spent Saturday morning walking around the Devin Nature Trail. First I had to climb up from the plain below through woods which, as you can see above, were carpeted with wildflowers.

It's quite a steep climb. But the views from the top are spectacular.

But not as spectacular as the banks of wild dwarf irises set against yellow potentillas.

The path climbs and descends as it circuits the summit of Devin. At either end of the summit are fortifications - a medieval castle and a bronze age fort with this commanding view (below).

On the slope below the Bronze age fort I came upon a mound-shaped plant of Pheasant's Eye with its bright gold flowers. A few weeks earlier I would have seen pasque flowers in the meadows, but I felt well rewarded for the effort of climbing up Devin's slopes. 

 I am thinking of creating a walking holiday in the area. What do you think?

Friday, 17 April 2015

And she makes puppets too

My talented neighbout, Jitka, also makes classic marionettes. I have spoken before about how puppets and puppetry are an important part of Czech culture, and about how I first came to discover Czech culture through puppetry.

Jitka has a workshop downstairs in her Czech farmhouse, where she designs and carves traditional wooden puppets. Unlike the puppets you tend to see in shops in Prague, hers are all individual designs and hand carved from local fruit wood. Although she will sell her creations to collectors, she is never more delighted than when her marionettes are bought to be used, as they should be, in the theatre. I am just said that my friend Hannah isn't here to check them out.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

My Talented Neighbour

Jitka lives in the large farmhouse across the road from us. As you enter the house you are surrounded by art and craftsmanship. Both she and her partner are extremely talented artists, although both would say that they are not artists but craftsmen. I would beg to differ - in both their cases I believe the boundary between craft and art is very much blurred.

Jitka can turn her hands to many things, but she certainly excels in those very Czech arts/crafts of painted eggs and puppets. To be sure you can buy painted eggs in the shops of Cesky Krumlov, but none will be as individual and delicate as Jitka's. Each takes her at least an hour to paint. Each stroke has to be applied individually as the wax dries too quickly to allow you to do more than one. I have tried to decorate a very basic egg and I cannot tell you how difficult it is. To produce eggs like this requires years of practice and talent.

Jitka has been selling her work at crafts markets and says she found herself sitting next to a woman, who is considered the mistress of Czech egg painting. To Jitka's delight and surprise the woman recognized Jitka's talent and was delighted to see the craft passing to the next generation. Sadly, although you will find dyes for egg-decorating in the local supermarket, few people will have the patience, skill or time to practice the old art as it should be done.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Changes on Prague Metro

As of today Prague has four new metro stations. The Green A line has been extended to Nemocnice Motel in the east of the city. As the Green line is the main line taken by travellers going to and from the airport, it is likely initially to cause confusion. For starters all those tourist books about Prague are suddenly out-of-date.You can download a map of the Metro and Bus stops at, however the changes are shown in the picture above (click to see a larger version).

Travellers coming from the airport will still catch the 119 bus, but it now terminates at the Nadrazi Veleslavin Metro Station and not Dejvicka. There are a number of changes to the bus services in that area and the number 2 tram has been cancelled, but these are hardly likely to impact on visitors or indeed many Prague residents.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Getting Around Prague

I've been asked to write some posts about practical issues, such as how do I get around, when the only car I can use at the moment is a hire one. The answer is the excellent public transport system here, Let's start with Prague.

The first thing to say is that it makes no sense to have a car in Prague, unless possibly if you live in the outskirts. The public transport system is really good and cheap.

First there is the metro system - the equivalent if London's tube but with only three colour-coded lines - red, yellow and green. Then there are the trams - there are more of these and they have the added advantage of taking you past a load of interesting sights. I am, as you will have gathered, a fan of Prague's trams. And finally there are buses, which you tend to see in Prague suburbs. If you are a visitor to the city you may only use a bus going to the airport or Prague Zoo.

I plan to talk about each of these modes of transport in dedicated blog posts, so for this post let us focus on getting around generally on the Prague Public Transport System. The first thing to say is the system is integrated - you buy one ticket for all forms of transport. The  basic ticket currently costs 32kc and allows you up to 90 minutes travel, during which you can jump on and off trams, metro trains and buses and combinations thereof. If you only want to make a short (max 30 minute) journey you can opt for a 24kc ticket.

The key thing to note is that the timer starts when you validate your ticket at the beginning of the journey. You will find yellow validation machines as you enter the metro station or train. On one end of the ticket you will find a blank space with arrows, slide this end into the machine face up until you hear the machine stamp the ticket. You must do this or face being fined. There are plenty of ticket inspectors working Prague's public transport and they don't care that you aren't a local, quite the opposite.

So where do you buy tickets? You will find ticket vending machines in metro stations and at the main tram stops (but not all of the latter). You need coins for the machines. To buy more than one ticket press the button as many times as you want tickets. You can also buy tickets in some newsagents and at various information centres, including the one in the arrivals lounge at the airport. It is a good idea to buy multiple tickets from these centres, as you will not make yourself popular with Prague commuters if you spend ages fumbling coins into the automatic machines.

If you don't see your fellow passengers validating tickets, it is because they very sensibly have bought a season ticket. There are tourist tickets available for 24 hrs and 72 hrs (110kc and 310kc). The next ticket up is the monthly season, but at 550kc if you are staying for a week it is still worth getting.

The Prague Transport System has an excellent website - the English version is here:

The website offers maps and other information, up-to-date news of any works and diversions and an online journey planner.


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