Monday, July 4, 2016

Our Prague Commute in 2016

In a blogpost I wrote five years ago for the Irreal Cafe, I attempted to describe Prague as I experienced it when Greg and I first lived here for an extended period of time in 1995. We were staying in Braník that year, and because I didn’t want to take a bus ride to the subway every time I wanted to go to the city center to an art galerie or café, I learned the rather circuitous route to the nearest tram stop. On the way home I would walk “past the brewery, over the tracks, up the hill, up the steep steps, up another hill, around the bend, past the barking dogs, and so on,” and of course the way to the tram stop when I was on my way out was the reverse of that. In 1995 the trams I relied on went only a little ways past the Braník stop, but in the intervening years, the tram lines have been extended out to Sídliště Modřany. It is this tram stop that we have used extensively during our Prague stay this year, and my way to the city center has had its own flavor and specific landmarks, just as it did in 1995. Of course my choice is more complex than it needs to be, and most people choose to use the subway because it's much faster. But I like to see as much of the world around me as I can when I travel, and trams (and walks) are the best way to do that.

Because it’s nearly three kilometers to the tram stop from our panelák in Libuš, I usually take a bus to Sídliště Libuš, then walk about 1.5 kilometers from there to the tram.
View of the bus from the bus stop at Sídliště Libuš;
photo by G.S. Evans
My almost daily walk has made it possible for me to see what's happening in the natural world. There are always wildflowers growing along the way (though mowers cut them down every few weeks, which makes way for the new crop), and though traffic goes by on the road at a pretty fast clip, I can still hear birdsong and see land snails on a rainy day.
Bumblebee on blueweed
Nearby there is also the Modřanská rokle nature preserve where we have gone for a few walks. It's interesting to note that, though the nature preserve here is well kept, the variety of birds and butterflies I see is less diverse than my sightings on Petrin Hill.
At Modřanská rokle nature preserve
There are also a few interesting sights along the way like the tower from an old weather observatory and the fire station where we sometimes see trucks heading out on emergency calls.
Weather observatory tower; photo by G.S. Evans
Once I get to the tram stop, I'm lucky that I always get a seat because I get on at the beginning of the line. Prague public transit is clean and efficient, but it's especially nice to have your pick of seats.
Lots of tram seats at the beginning of the line;
photo by G.S. Evans
From the tram windows we see the many panelaks and other features of Sídliště Modřany. Then we begin to see the Vltava and all the people who use the riverbank as a place to ride bicycles, to push baby carriages, to walk dogs, or just to stroll. At the Přístaviště stop you can get off and take a walk in the Branické Skály preserve with its rock outcrops and small playground.
Branické Skály rock outcrop behind the Církev 
Českobratrská Evangelická; photo by G.S. Evans

Well-used bouncing horse at the
Branické Skály play area
Another place to get off and see small pleasant sights is the Výtoň stop with its squat clock tower and river views.
Clock tower at the Výtoň stop
A river view near the Výtoň stop
I've posted frequently on this blog about areas in Prague that are heavily touristed. My time in Libuš this year has given me a chance to see parts of the city I haven't seen for a long time -- or have never had a chance to see. I also think our lifestyle here, with its small flat in a panelák and heavy reliance on public transit, has helped me get in touch with how so many people live in Prague.

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