Prague has inexplicably remained on my bucket list European cities for over a decade. During that time the Czech capital has gone from being a something of a destination for the more intrepid explorer to the 6th most visited city in Europe. Even though the Czech Republic retains its original currency rather than the Euro, the country is no longer a cheap holiday location, although less expensive than most western European countries.
On my recent trip, I had made no plans past landing in Prague where I expected to spend a few days shooting the landmarks and some street photography. From there I had vague thoughts about travelling to parts of the UK such as Ireland and Wales for landscapes.
But first, a few impressions of Prague. The layout reminded me a bit of Paris. Instead of the Seine, you have the Vltava river winding S-like through the city which is crossed by numerous bridges. The famous Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is rightly popular as it is perhaps one of the most beautiful in the world. Apart from being itself physically splendid, it links up two of the best perspectives of the city from either end : Prague castle and the Old Town. Shooting in the evening is difficult due to the number of tourists so most of my sunrises were spent here, hoping for foggy conditions (which never eventuated).
In spite of the many touristy shops in the centre, I found Prague to be a strikingly elegant and romantic city. I could imagine spending a great deal of time exploring the city in more depth like I did with Paris. But it was time to move on and I commenced looking at flights to Dublin, Edinburgh and London. However, a Czech local suggested to me why not stay in the country and see some of the small towns and national parks? After a bit of research we singled out a few places to visit, although I remained unconvinced about the potential for landscape photography.
To cut a long story short, there’s a lot more to the Czech Republic than just Prague and I ended up spending my entire trip in the country. Most visitors combine their visit to the capital with a trip to the fairy tale town of Cesky Krumlov. Ignore the cheesy souvenir shops and it really is a very charming town with a medieval look to it. However from my brief explorations, I believe that there are many more interesting off-the-beaten-track locations to discover.
The big surprise was that I managed to come back with a handful of portfolio-worthy landscape images which will be released in due course. While there are no seascapes to shoot in Czech, being a land-locked country, there are beautiful forests and mountains. Even though I arrived after the peak, the autumn colour was among the most impressive I’ve seen anywhere. I’ll finish with an image showing features of the typical Czech wilderness in Bohemian Swiss, beech trees, luminous mossy banks, cascading rivers and limestone canyons. I didn’t even manage to visit Moravia, eastern half of the country, known for its wine regions and rolling hills. That will have to wait for my return trip.