There are few cities in Europe that inspire so much visual poetry like Prague. Some will rightly argue that Cologne, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona, and Zaragoza are just a few others that will leave you spellbound with their historical significance, grandiose architecture and poignant water elements as well. Prague, however, stands out among the giants for being smaller, but no less beautiful and always shrouded in mystery regardless of the season. To me it is the gateway into a part of Eastern Europe that beckons continuous exploring of the great unknown. We tend to shy away from countries where we don’t speak the language, but that’s exactly the attraction to me as linguist and a culture vulture. There will always be a way to communicate, and these days, exploring more remote areas with the right apps on your mobile phone becomes easier.
When in Prague, take your pick among the historical buildings or the sensational views of and along the Vltava River. This time I chose not to stay in a regular hotel, pension or apartment, but opted instead for a “botel”, and Prague is full of them – old boats that have been converted into floating hotels and are stationed along the river. For shutterbugs like me who don’t like standing around in the cold with a tripod but insist on capturing the magical lights, this is the perfect solution.
The rooms are small, well, they are cabins after all, but not cramped. The cat is a bit perplexed at the entire set-up but has discovered the joys of staying on a boat because the windows offer front row seats to passing swans, ducks, seagulls and other river fowl. The walls and floors are thin though, and you can hear what is going on next door, above you and across the hall. I told myself that if I had wanted quiet and luxurious I should have booked in an old castle instead, but I wanted something completely out of the ordinary.
Word of caution about these botels though. If you arrive by train and don’t know your way around the city, a taxi will cost you a pretty penny. So I will do the same thing as in Rome: study the public transportation system the next couple of days and take that back to the station. Our accommodation may not be in the historical centre, but we are a few meters from a train, tram and underground station, and surrounded by cafes.
Interesting though the views may be during the day, there are no words to describe magical Prague by night. Winter adds a special touch to the sky and the night light, a certain crispiness to the air that is replaced by the sultry and stagnant cloak in Summer. The first evening has been cold and rainy, so the light is tricky in general, but the river and the camera decided to cooperate.
Click HERE for the article with the full set of photographs.