Ernie goes to the Charles Bridge and Malá Strana (Dec 2019)

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Charles Bridge Views

A visit to Prague is incomplete without a walk across the celebrated Charles Bridge, a medieval bridge crossing the Vltava belatedly named after the king, and Holy Roman Emperor, at the time of its construction, Charles IV. That’s not to say that it would be an enjoyable visit, necessarily, but the thing about tourists is we have a habit of gathering around tourist sites in large numbers. If you have more flexibility in your timing, probably early morning or later at night are better times to appreciate the stone bridge and its thirty statues (and get that perfect crowd-less Instagram shot). We did not have this flexibility, so into the mid-morning crowds we went.

I’m not sure how one is to enjoy a bridge exactly, though. You can certainly use it to look at things from the bridge, and there were indeed some pretty views of the surrounding city on both banks of the river. There were also souvenir vendors and entertainers scattered along the bridge’s length, and Ashley did buy some very pretty earrings from one of the makeshift jewellery stalls. For the bridge itself though, it was not so easy to take in, what with the bundled up masses shuffling across the brick pavement from riverbank to riverbank. You don’t really see the bridge, not quite – just the people on it, if that makes sense. On one of our last days in Prague, however, we took another river crossing at just the right hour, and something golden settled on the river and its bridges. The Mánes Bridge is one bridge downriver from the Charles, with a fraction of the crowd, and from that distance the Charles Bridge was indeed quite a pretty sight. Anyway, here are some photos on, from, and of said bridge.

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Malá Strana and the Lennon Wall

Prague’s lesser town, so named for its location across the river from the larger city centre, stands at the other end of the Charles Bridge. I can’t say that much more about it because, to be honest, we didn’t do that much research into Malá Strana – we assumed we’d be spending most of our time in the old town area, so we only had a few things highlighted for this part of Prague. The original Lennon Wall was one of them, though, and it was the first place we headed to once we crossed over to this side of the Vltava. Originally used to express anti-government views during the days of Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, the wall has since been used as a free canvas for many global and international issues, and spawned copies across the world.

One of the more famous instances is in Hong Kong, where a Lennon wall was created during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution protests and then once again last year during the Anti-Extradition Bill protests. Several Lennon walls popped up around the city, in fact, with volunteer teams maintaining the sites in the face of repeated government and police-led dismantling efforts. As the protests died down, in no small part due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has ravaged much of the region, these walls have disappeared one by one, though I’m sure we’ll see these murals of defiance and free expression pop up again should the Hong Kong public wish it so.

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Almost the End

Okay so I’ll wrap up my final thoughts and photo series on Prague soon. The city really is lovely and it is low-key one of my favourite cities to just walk around in, even if everybody else on planet earth feels the same (and has decided to visit at the same time as me). I hope my photos so far have conveyed a little bit of that, crowds and all. Also because I’ve got a few more to share in the final Prague post – a bit of Christmas cheer, a castle on a hill, and a bird’s eye view of the city, taken at great expense to our family’s emotional reserves.

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