Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Europe 2015 Day 3 - Of Prague Farmers' Market & Cycling

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Europe 2015 Day 3 - Of Prague Farmers' Market & Cycling
Prague, Czech Republic - 26th September 2015
It's our third day in Prague; after yesterday's busy day, today we took things easy and went to a lovely  market. No we did not buy a pig, but we did see much of how their markets were like. The pace picked up again for me in the evening when I took a break from the gang and went cycling.

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Map showing our travel for the day.

After a simple breakfast at the apartment, we were out; taking a train over to the Naplavka Farmer's Market. Those wanting to head there do note that Google Maps will show this market being away from the river. The one we went to was at the Vltava riverside, just off from the Narodni Station.
It's a good place for a market, the river exudes some calm over the busy hustle-bustle of the market - not to say the market was a noisy place. It was in fact a colourful place with friendly traders.

The colours start subtly with this wild mushrooms, some as large as a palm.

To some reddish fish meat at the fishmonger's. That fish there was huge, staring blankly at my thumbs up; pity as soon it will be on somebody's plater, part of a delicious meal.

To the strong red of these whopper sausages.

And then subtle browns of these wild honey. Peeping over these bottles, one can see tents on the other side of the Vltava, is there another market there?

Back to vivid colours of these sausages and kebab over a grille. I wonder how, kebabs did come to the Czech Republic. Was it during the time when the Mongols swept over Central Asia and into Eastern Europe, bringing some of the Oriental culture, architecture and food over?

This is one colourful platter of seafood. It's a huge one, now the thing is I did not see any table where on can sit down and finish this off, so probably this must be for take-way.

The sights and smell of the market got to us, we ordered some anchovies to eat as we walked along. These were the larger anchovies, pan-fried so that they were slightly crispy. Add a twist of lemon... and Wah..Lah.... we were now part of this market scene.

We were not the only ones attracted by the market scents, this huge Great Dane came walking calmly and casually through the crowd, pulling in curious stares from all around.

Did I mention earlier that the vendors were friendly; yes they were and some of them were pretty too!

That vendor was not the only pretty thing at the market; in the river were these swans, swimming gracefully and adding to the beautiful atmosphere of the place...

The market stretches for almost a kilometre, ending somewhere near the Zeleznici Railway Bridge. By coincident, I met this lady doing some cycling there.... made me "zelez" as I would have love to cycle here (this lady must have been a fairy in pink, as later my cycling wish was indeed granted!).

As we were leaving, a band assembled at the exit (entrance too, as it was the same point), the colour and cheerfulness of the place stirred in me and I did an impromptu dance (see top-most photo).
Nearby, at road level, is this building called the Dancing House; it is suppose to portray Ginger Rogers (on the left) in a swirling skirt as she danced with Fred Astaire. As you can notice, the dancing mood in me still lingered on, haha....

All that walking sure had us hungry. On the train journey back, Lynn had searched the net and found a authentic Czech restaurant called Mlejnice located in Kozna in Prague 1. With just a simple Prague town map as a guide, we bumbled along weaving through narrow lanes and somehow managed to find the place. But the frontage of the place looked different from what was shown on the internet search. Looking up, a small sign said "Mlejnice", yup this is the restaurant. Only on entering did we find out that this was a different branch located at Zatecka.... lucky us.... lucky bumbling us!

Mlejnice serves good Czech food, among the food we had was this pan-fried cod which was simply done and simply fresh...

... and this goulash that came served in a large bun. It was a variety that had thicker puree, tasting much better than the one we had in U Flecku a few days earlier.
The food in the place was authentic and it was very good too... Mlejnice was indeed nice!

The nice food and perhaps the earlier dancing mood must have caught on.Happy as a lark, Sally stood on a chair and did a quick jig.

Well, our morning's tour is over. Time to head back to the apartment, have a short rest before the evening's program. On the way back I took a photo with this charming old man, a street musician playing romantic ballads on his accordion.

In the evening I took a break from my travelling companions and went over to City Bike's shop to join a cycling tour.

As it turned out, two other cyclists did not turn up for the tour and it became a private tour for lucky me! Alex the cycling tour guide took me on a off-the-beaten track ride, going to places that not tourists seldom visit.
We started on a easy ride around Old Town Prague and then graduated to a tough climb (more like pushing our bikes) up the slope to get to Letna Park. which is situated on a hill near the Lesser Quarter. Puff... puff... puff...

The huffing and puffing was worth it, as Letna Park is a nice place to cycle in, and from one end of the park there is a beautiful bird's eye view of Prague.

We then went whooshing down the slopes and curves of Chotkova Street, where the historical trams still operate and headed to see these pissing men called the "Pissing Fountain" done by David Černý at the Kafka Museum compound.
If seeing two men peeing is not strange enough, one can send a SMS to the fountain and the men will write it out with their "pee".

A short hop away was this "Narrowest Street", I just had to trying walking through. This street is so narrow that it's only one person wide. There is a nice cafe at the top and traffic lights control the direction of traffic. The light turned green and I walked through; now I can claim having walked through the narrowest street. At 30cm at the widest point, perhaps it's the narrowest in the world.

Next was a vividly coloured wall mural. The wall even has a name, the "Lennon Wall". Graffiti artists drew this mural with Lenon's face there, probably as a play on the word Lenin. The city authorities had it white-washed but the following day it was back! Initially it was a place for locals to write their dissatisfaction using lyrics from the Beatles' song, now it's more graffiti by tourist leaving their names there.

Are these "Yellow Penguins" heading for the Antarctic or heading for the pub?

Back to a more sober note, a bronze statue of a Buddhist monk, Sri Chinmoy, praying beside the Vltava River. It's called the "Statue of Harmony".

We crossed over the Vltava and are now riding along the river banks at Naplavka. Yup, we were here this morning but now without the market stalls it looked bare but just the nice place to take a stroll or cycle on.

A last stop at Hlavni mesto to view a kinetic sculpture by David Černý  - a rotating head of Franz Kafka. The head is made up of slices which rotates at different speed and directions, every once a while they will align to form a proper head. The photo above shows the head almost at proper alignment. For a video of the head click here.
(... click here to see more of Prague Cycling)

While I was biking around, my travelling compatriots went to watch an opera. I had expected them to be back later but was most surprised to see them at the apartment when I got back. Apparently they found the opera boring and scooted out during the mid-show break. Sigh... perhaps we will get to see a good opera when we get over to Vienna later in our tour.
Anyway all of us will sleep well as we have an interesting day ahead when we head for the medieval town of Český Krumlov.

(For more photos of the day Click Here)

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