Tram city

Malá Strana [Lesser Quarter], Prague, Czech Republic

When I first visited Prague I had a flashback moment in the taxi from the airport.

My antennae twitch when I see tram-tracks, not only because my parents taught me to read (in block capitals) and count (in Gills Sans) by means of the trams running past our house in the late 1940s, but also because whenever we left Sheffield by road or rail our return was always marked by a competition to see who could first see a cream-and-blue Sheffield tram or bus.  And there were, in my early childhood, rather more trams than buses on the streets.

So when I first spotted a red-and-cream Prague tram (or trams – they mostly seem to run as attached pairs), I had a flashback to 1968, when the Crich tramway museum hit the national headlines because an antique Prague tram, with its minders, narrowly escaped the Soviet army arriving to extinguish Alexander Dubček’s Prague Spring:

Prague is in fact a tram city, rather like Melbourne.  Most major streets have tram-tracks and there are services twenty-four hours a day.  A twenty-four-hour travel pass costs the equivalent of just over £3.

From my hotel near the metro-station I P Pavolva (named after a Russian physiologist), I found the 22 tram invaluable.  It crosses the river, threads its way through the Old Town (passing at one point through a tiny arch you would think twice about driving a bus through) and climbs hairpin bends up Chotkova to the level of the Castle (and returns with suitable caution down the slippery slope).

But I also made a point, as I do still with London buses, of hopping on and off at random simply to see the city unfold before me.

By that means I learnt my way round Prague without a guidebook, and found some remarkable and unexpected places.

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