Thursday, 1 November 2018

Pleasures And Pain In Prague... Part 1

A few years ago, after the loss of someone very close to me, I decided that I wanted to travel a little more and see some of the world.  I started in Berlin - all the way back in 2014. It seems longer ago - such is the eddying passage of time.  I was drawn not just by the city, but by the German Fetish Ball that is held there every spring.  What a great way, I thought, to see the fantastic cities of Europe and throw in a fetish event, too.  A bit of culture and a bit of kink.

I had such a, well, ball at Berlin and the German Fetish Ball that I went back there the following year.  After that I made it to Essen in 2016 (OK, not such a great city but a fantastic fetish event nonetheless) and then to Hamburg... er, twice - in 2017 and again earlier this year.  My grandiose plans to see the best of Europe were being foiled by the great German fetish parties that I wanted to revisit.

This year, however, I wanted to do something different.  Prague.  City Of A Thousand Spires.  I'd always wanted to see the fabled glory of the Old Town, Wenceslas Square (oh, but how I'd come to regret that in time).  The fact there was the Prague Fetish Weekend was, of course a bonus.  It was a bit of a difficult decision - Munich, another city on my list, was holding its own fetish weekend courtesy of Avantgardista on the same weekend... but those thousand spires were calling.

So, one Wednesday in the middle of October I headed to Manchester airport to begin my Prague adventure.  The flight was uneventful if remarkably uncomfortable - something else I was to regret a little later.  I honestly don't think I've ever flown in a plane with such hard, unforgiving and painful seats.  They were worthy of an S&M dungeon.  We finally touched down in Prague at 4.30pm local time and a lovely autumnal evening was beckoning.  I grabbed my bags from the carousel (flying fetish means never just having hand-luggage) and headed out to find a taxi.

Now, being a comprehensive-schooled child of the 1980s my language skills are... not good.  German, largely phonetic and with many sounds and word structures similar to English, can be understood to a point.  Czech?  Forget it.  I'd had the foresight to print out the address of my holiday apartment and handed it to my non-English speaking driver.  He read out the address (sounding nothing like I imagined it would), fiddled with his in-car navigation system, and set off.

Taxi drivers.  Don't you love 'em?  Sometimes found bumbling along motorways at 50mph, other times doing three-point turns in the middle of busy roads holding everyone else up ("It's allowed - I'm working"), double-parking outside peoples' houses waiting for their customers causing traffic jams, or doing 50mph through crowded city centres and 30mph limits.

My taxi driver was of the latter variety.  Somewhat, in fact like this...


Claude Lelouch's 'Rendezvous' - the legendary mad dash through Paris in a Mercedes, only mine was courtesy of a short taxi driver blasting through the busy streets of Prague at rush hour in a screaming Skoda Octavia.  At one point I glimpsed the speedometer - nearly 100kmh.  On a busy dual carriageway.  On the inside lane, undertaking other cars.  No, the outside lane, overtaking other cars.  No, the inside lane again, no the, er, squeezing between two cars bit... no, the inside lane... Then onto narrow streets as we approached the old town, still slipstreaming past other drivers and getting a racing line on corners cutting off other drivers that Senna in his prime would have been proud of.  "At least," I thought, "I'll get to the apartment in good time," as I clung on to the seatbelt as the tyres howled around another corner, undertaking two slow cars and just missing a tram.  And we would have made great time, if not for a colossal traffic jam over the Štefánikův most bridge.  We ground to a halt.  The minutes ticked by... which was a worry as I'd arranged to be met at the apartment by 6.30pm at the latest.  Not only that, but I had no food for breakfast, and knew that the shop I needed to get to closed at 7.00pm and was twenty minutes' walk from the apartment.

Finally the traffic cleared and 'Rendezvous 2' began.  A few quick mad-dashes between traffic lights (each treated like a Grand Prix start) and at 6.30pm we arrived at the apartment.  I had thrown my bags in the apartment, signed the holiday form and collected the keys off the owner in seconds, it seemed, and was now ready to head out to my next destination.  Now it was a 'Rendezvous' of my own, only a little slower than my Skoda speedtrip through the city.  I managed to run the 1.3km down through Wenceslas Square, (in heeled boots, if you please) squeezing though crowds of tourists and sightseers, just making my shop in time.  It was a rather slower walk back with my shopping in hand.

My first impressions were great.  The majestic buildings of Wenceslas Square in the muted glow of evening were magical and breath-taking... or was I just short of breath after my shop-bound sprint?

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Wenceslas Square, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Narodni Museum, Prague.
OK, my mood may have been helped by a bit of a sugar-rush courtesy of...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - pleasures in Prague.
...but in reality there was no mistaking the stunning architechture of the beautiful old town.  Back in my apartment, things were also impressive...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - apartment bedroom, Prague.
Time to hit the welcoming bed for a well-deserved sleep.

Or so I wished.  What I hadn't figured up to that point was that my lovely apartment was actually in the middle of what seemed like Prague's version of the Monaco Grand Prix.  All night cars bellowed full throttle and with blaring exhausts around the two main roads that surrounded the apartment block.  And the Czechs like their loud exhausts.  And driving fast.

On Friday I awoke to a slower but no less intrusive traffic hum from the rush hour.  Oh, and another gift, courtesy of my painful Easyjet flight - a pain stretching down my left leg and lower back.  Sciatica.  Lovely.

Determined to experience the city, I dressed (sensibly, in my low-heeled boots - too many cobbles, hills and too far to walk today for high heels) and set off to explore.

I headed back down Wenceslas Square, busy, it seemed, at any time of the day.  In the bright clear morning it looked... a little more disappointing that my first impression the previous night.  Chain stores, chain coffee shops and chain fast-food outlets dominated.  Only when you looked up over the garish modern shops did the real delights reveal themselves.  Towards the bottom of the Square (it's not really a 'Square' as such - more like a long and very wide rectangle) I turned off the main tourist route and headed towards the river.  Ah, much more like it.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - old town, Prague.
Stunning, beautiful old buildings lined the old cobbled roads with hardly any modern additions to the architectural delights.  A quick bit of history to explain (but most will perhaps know) - unlike many other cities around Europe, Prague was of course never bombed to smithereems in the Second World War.  It was annexed early on by Hitler (part of the lebensraum ideaology) and so, by the time war officially kicked off, was under German rule.  Not a stategic target for the Allies, it was left untouched.  After the war, the Soviet Union took over, unwelcomed, in the late 1960s and things, well, just didn't change from a visual aspect.  So, Prague remains - beautiful, largely untarnished, intruiging... an eccentric one thousand year-old lady struggling to keep her decorum in the blaze and glare of modern life.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - old town, Prague.
I finally reached the river after half an hour of gentle strolling through meandering city streets.  A Pub Quiz questioned that I shamefully wouldn't have known - what river runs through Prague?  The Vltava (of course...).

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Vltava river, Prague.
In the warming early morning sunshine the views over the river were wonderful.  In the distance a cathedral towered over the city, a stunning sentinel keeping quiet guard over the city.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - view over the Vltava.
"Right," I thought, "I'm going that way."

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
I decided to head back to Tourist Central - the Charles Bridge, to cross the river.  As busy as it was, it was beautiful.  Buskers (playing superb jazz and classical pieces, not warbling crappy old Oasis songs - are you listening Manchester?) and artists lined the bridge, brightening the shadows under the glorious statues.  The views were stunning, too.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Charles Bridge, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Charles Bridge, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Charles Bridge, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Charles Brisdge, Prague.
Over on the east side of the river the tourists gradually faded, although the old part of the city remained glorious and grand.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - some spires, Prague.
I continued up a steep road, stopping only for well-deserved sustenance...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - gingerbread shop, Prague.
 ...or to take in the outstanding views as I climbed higher above the city.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort -Strahov monastery, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - view of Prague from the hill.
At the summit of the hill the streets were lined with glorious, grandiose buildings, and if it wasn't for the modern day cars parked up it would have felt .like stepping back in time.  It was certainly worth the long uphill trek.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Prague.
I headed towards the Palace and back to the crowds.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Palace entrance, Prague.
I looked for an entrance and signs for how much it would cost to go in.  I followed a few tourists past security (they check bags and jackets, like at a rock concert) and continued on, suddenly realising that I was now inside the beautiful Palace.  Free of charge.  For something like this in most cities there would be some costs involved, certainly.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - inside the Palace, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
I wandered into the cool darkness of the cathedral.  It was breathtaking.  Beautiful stained glass windows cast ethereal rainbows of light into the shadows.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
I lingered a while, enjoying the peace of the church, calming despite the throng of tourists milling around.

Outside, back in the warm October sunshine, I carried on my stroll around the Palace.  Looking at the exterior of the Cathedral I wondered if most of Prague's 'thousand spires' were here.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Palace, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - some more spires, Prague.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - cathedral, Prague.
I finally left the pleasures of the Palace and headed back down through a long walkway towards the Vltava.  I found my way back to the Charles Bridge, now heaving with tourists.  I headed straight across, taking no time to enjoy the views through the sheer mass of bodies.  Back on the west side of the river I decided a late lunch was in order, and found myself at Maitrea.

I had a lovely meal in the tranquil restaurant, sitting on a few extra cushions to ease the pain in my thigh.  I rested for a while, my legs aching from the long walk (nearly 8 miles, much of it uphill) before heading back to the apartment.  I crossed Old Town Square, busy with large groups of Chinese tourists and, er, a somewhat large Panda.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - er, giant panda, Prague.
一路到布拉格看他妈的大熊猫
I think that translates as "All the way to Prague to see a fucking Giant Panda."  Which is what I expect they were thinking.

I finally found myself back on Wenceslas Square (yet again), fought my way through the gathering crowds (yet again).

Back at the apartment I decided to use the late afternoon light for a bit of modelling.  I slipped on my PVC thigh boots that I bought in Bruges a few years ago, a wide leather belt and pulled on some long nylon gloves.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - PVC thigh boots, apartment, Prague.
All was going well until I decided to stand next to a window that overlooked the lovely Narodni museum.  A couple of quick snapshots...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - PVC thigh boots, apartment, Prague.
... and as I stepped back to the window to lower the window-blind I found myself face to face with three workmen who were re-paving the pathway outside the apartmet block.  They, in turn, found themselves face to face with a masked and naked lady baring her breasts for them.  They were more delighted with the exchange than I was, I could tell.  In my haste to close the blind I knocked one of the plant pots off the window-ledge, smashing it to pieces on the hardwood floor.  Another thing I'd come to regret, later...

I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and easing my aching legs.  There was still plenty to look forward to for the remainder of my stay in Prague.

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