By the way on the north edge of the omega-shaped landform is a park called Stromovka park, check it out here: > This will come in handy later.
Let's have a look at the picture. Scroll it so the kayakers are in front of you and the little dog is to the right of the frame. What a lovely dog, so happy to be alive. Now look off to the back left area. Kindly visible-ize a strange hovering concrete shape behind the yellow buoy. This is the control tower for a dam on whose edge it sits. So you see, to these kayakers, the world really is flat. I'm trying to convince you that the sun is setting over the edge of the world but now you already know it's only a dam, plus there are trees in the distance so my plan is shot. You'll see a few more of these dams and control towers along the river if you keep riding north. They're a stark concrete contrast to the idyllic little river villas you're otherwise amidst.
But follow the line of the dam over to the right and you'll see a concrete spit making a sort of exit lane by the right bank. This is where the kayakers have their obstacle course. The dam sets them up with water releases and this wall makes a pressure stream to play with. There are gates hanging over a set of man-made rapids including whirlpools, drops, whitewater, and stacks of car tires pushing up standing waves. Nothing but fun!
Let's keep moving about our sunset landscape. See that white curved line on the bike path there? That makes a little driveway around a mounded bunker, you can see its grassy slope. If you go for a visit, definitely take a look at the bunker. Think of being in there defending the dam against pirate kayakers out for blood and booty. It's majestic.
What else have we got here? Spin around about ninety degrees and get a look at that red brick building with the green gate. This is part of Charles University's athletic department. The white building to its right has an outdoor climbing wall. Just over the parked cars you can see an outward-sloping cliff face with a little window-notch way up top. Top roping encouraged! And of course, they have a pub there, half liters for under 20Kc in case you're not sudsed enough from the river.
Now if you scroll so that the parked bikes are in front and the water is to the right side of the screen, you will be looking at the road back to Prague. The river will be flowing toward you here. Put in and you'll be going North, after just a few hundred meters you'll be at the zoo, also at the bridge over to Stromovka park. It's much quicker to get here via that bridge than by the bike path around the loop, in my opinion. But what do I know? I'm just a dripping mutt.
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, has long attracted artists and wandering spirits, although it was originally inhabited by prehistoric fish. Their inland sea filled the basin contained by the Tatras and Carpathian mountains, but when it eventually dried up they were forced to yield the terrain to dinosaurs, wooly mammoths and Neanderthals. In human times the Celtic tribes came to reside here, leaving remains dating back to the 4th Century B.C. Their tribal name, Boii, gives the root of the word "Bohemia". The three separate territories of Bohemia, Silesia and Moravia now make up the modern Czech Republic, which split from Slovakia in the 1993 "Velvet Divorce." Thanks to its enigmatic founder, the city of Prague derives a magnetic appeal for visionaries, scientists and astronomers. The historical figure credited with the launch of Prague is Princess Libuse, a visionary prophet and warrior who once stood atop the hill at Vysehrad and made the prophecy as follows, "I see a vast city, whose glory will touch the stars!" This indeed came to pass after she took Otokar Premysl to be her husband and King, launching the Premyslid dynasty, and leaving it to rule for the first four hundred years of Czech history. When the last Premyslid king, Wenceslas III, died without producing a male heir, the fourteen year-old John of Luxembourg came to take the throne of the Czech lands. Hot-headed John died in battle, but his diplomatic son Charles IV inherited the throne and, through keen multi-lingual savvy, managed to both keep it and earn the title "Father of the Czech Nation." Charles IV was the first of the Holy Roman Emperors here; he ruled during the height of Prague's elegance and splendour. This is the man to know if you want to understand Prague's layout. He sponsored the construction of such landmarks as the Charles Bridge, the Hunger Wall and St. Vitus' Cathedral, as well as personally designing the neighborhood called New Town (Nove Mesto) which has for its center Karlovo Namesti or Charles Square. The city displays every branch of architecture across the last thousand years, including Cubism, a style which you will be hard-pressed to find applied to buildings anywhere else in the world. Beyond the stunning visual makeup of the city, there is a wealth of nightlife and entertainment, beginning with the legendary concert halls including the Rudolfinum, National Theater, Estates Theater and the Municipal House. After investigating the Castle and Bridge, which are the most heavily-trafficked tourist areas, take a look around Zizkov and Letna, two of the cooler neighborhoods for bars and restaurants. However quiet it may seem after ten PM, Prague is alive and throbbing in an endless array of basement bars, pubs, clubs, discos and pool halls waiting to be discovered by the intrepid subterranean adventurer. To get an idea of what lies in store, check out the panoramas for Chateau and Palac Akropolis and when you're out and about, make sure you look for the stairs down to the cellar. Apart from shopping, eating, drinking and wearing out your digital camera, delve into the rich green carpet of Prague's parks, many of which lie only walking-minutes from the city center.Text by Steve Smith.