Ramble On: Away from the Tourist Hordes
your way to Smichovsk´ n÷drazi. Hop on a 129, 241, 243 or
255 bus to the Zbraslavsky N÷masti stop. After passing through
the industrial ring of lower Smichov and bumbling alongside
the dilapidated train lines for a few kilometers, you'll
land in the small, quiet quarter of Zbraslav. This is still
Prague, just out in the mysterious and expansive Prague
Congratulations, you've officially fallen off the bottom
of the map.
You'll disembark in the town square, a not-so-square convergence
of grass and tarmac bordered by all the usual shops that
any town needs in order to survive. Look across the street
at the other bus stop: That's your way out. All four lines
run all day long. Note the schedule, for while one cannot
immerse oneself in immediacy with thoughts of later lingering,
it's sometimes comforting to know how you're going to get
home at the end of the day. Now stop thinking about your
Backtrack along the incoming bus route to that manor you
saw on your way in, barely a kilometer back. Cross the bridge
and hop the guardrail, wind your way own to the water and
soak up a little peace. Ignore the old tire and instead
concentrate on the swans. Bring a book, maybe a picnic lunch
and a bottle of wine. The water here looks red, a reflection
from the red brick of the manor up the hill and on the other
side of a high wall.
Newly filled with peace, scramble back up the hill and toward
town. Turn into the gray archway at number 470/472. Head
to the right and you're now on the other side of that wall:
the grounds of the manor on which you will find two treasures.
(Or a couple dozen if you count the classical and modern
sculp- tures which pepper the land- scape.) To the right
is the Church of St. James the Older, which was built on
the grounds of the Majestic Church of the Virgin Mary of
Zbraslav, destroyed by invaders a few centuries back. In
a town lousy with beautiful churches, one more breath-taking
than the next, St. James the Older is still worth a visit.
The baroque altar...the Piazzetti painting of the Virgin's
Assumption....Peek in, toss a 10 K coin into the offering
box, and ask yourself: why is it always so much colder in
Filled with the lord's grace, head over to the National
Gallery in Prague's Collection of Asian Art located just
next door. Anyone with an interest in Asian art must view
this collection, which includes sculpture, pottery, prints,
paintings and more. You'd think there'd be a line to see
the incredible Buddhist and Hindu art and artifacts, but
there's not. It's a peaceful, contemplative museum, very
much appropriate to the works.
Filled with culture, start walking again. Get back to the
bus stop and follow its path up along Elisky Premyslovny.
Not so fast now: at the corner of Vladislava Vancury, turn
right and glance down the road. Look closely and you'll
see a head sticking up out of the bushes: a larger-than-life
bust. Walk the four blocks and get a good eye-full of the
street's namesake: Vladislav Vancury. There stands a ten-foot-tall
bust of the 1920's experimental writer and avant-garde filmmaker.
Snap a photo or two, get back to Elisky Premyslovny, turn
right and keep walking. Up the hill. Pass the post, pass
the herna - no, no, no, there are plenty of herna bars back
in Prague 1 - pass the bowling alley restaurant. When you
come to the "Bazar" on the far-right corner, stop and turn
around. Behold another peculiar statue, this one a larger-than-life
treatment of Jan Hus bound in protest, standing in a pile
of kindling, soon to meet a fiery death. The engraving says
it all: "Za Pravdu." For the truth.
Keep walking. Up. Punish your body, make it sweat. Sweat
out last night's liquor. Sweat. Keep walking. Up. Punish
your body, make it sweat. Sweat out last night's liquor.
Sweat out the drugs and let the air peel off the cloying
smoke. out the drugs and let the air peel off the cloying
smoke. Punish yourself for whatever it is you did last night.
You 'll know you're at the top when you find yourself surrounded
by panel÷ks. Frankly, there's nothing else to see up here,
but the top of any hill is always a good place to be. Head
back down. Just walk on the other side of the street; always
walk on the other side of the street when you backtrack.
If you're hungry, and if it's not Sunday, then any of the
open and inviting restaurants in the town center will do
the trick. (Sunday's offerings are pretty slim.) Consider
dining at Barabizna at Pod Spit÷lem 363, a restaurant that
claims to offer Mexican food but really only manages Chexican.
It's located back toward the bridge near the manor, but
definitely before the bridge and definitely before the ugly
hotel Tenisov÷ Hala Zbraslav on the right-hand side.
Thing is, the Chexican at Barabizna isn't bad. I don't think
they should be allowed to have a sombrero on their sign,
but then again, I have high standards for Mexican food.
The traditional nakl÷dany hermelin s cibuli a toasty (pickled
camembert with onions and toast) is fantastic and big enough
for two (49 kc), and my entr´e of "pipinos" was delicious
(115 K). Que es pipinos? Apparently, four small pieces
of chicken wrapped around a slice of pork, a chunk of non-descript
white cheese (but not cheddar, as indicated on the English
version of the menu) and a whole jalapeno pepper. They're
broiled and served with a tasty brown sauce, rice, cabbage
and cucumber slices. The rice, by the way, will unexpectedly
add another 25 K to the bill, and you should avoid the
"Mexican" offering of that rice, as it's bland and inappropriately
sweet, as if they'd colored it red with catsup.
Have a beer or two, enjoy your meal on Barabizna's outdoor
porch, and then head back to the bus stop. In fifteen minutes,
you're at Smichovsk´ n÷mesti where you can catch any number
of connections back to wherever it is you came from.
Five hours. A church, a museum, two curious statues, a good
meal and one 10╠ Gambrinus. Less than 300 Kc.