I stayed in Prague for a week in March, right in the city on the border of the old and new town districts, crazy all-night trams below my hotel window, crazy friendly people, crazy alcohol and crazy spooky places... sounds like my kinda place... so I booked it and went with my camera gear and a big wad of Czech Crowns - sod the Euro.. ( not a fan ). I did a hell of a lot of walking, thinking, drinking, eating and taking photographs of the fantastic sites Prague has to offer.. but one place on my bucket list had to be the Ossuary at Sedlec. After a few days of negotiating the magnificent train station I had a tip-off from a guy in an absinthe bar that I could get a fancy bus and take in Sedlec AND St Barbara's Cathedral in Kutna Hora down the road and be home by tea time so I took his advice and booked myself on a bus which meant a ridiculous walk to the pick up point after meeting up with like-minded travellers in the Old Town Square ( which I loved - particular shout out to the Black Angel who served me a mind-blowing Don Papa rum cocktail one evening and Oliva Verde - great Italian Restaurant ) - enough.... nearly 90 minutes of endless dual carriageway through hunting country, deer, wolves.. everything.... I hit Sedlec and walked up a small lane, past the mandatory gift shop adorned with skulls of every description - I knew I was close. Sedlec is a sleepy little place, like a forgotten backwater of it's close neighbour: Kutna Hora, people undoubtedly come here for the bone church as they call it, which has stood for hundreds and hundreds of years. When you arrive, it's nothing spectacular.. it was sadly falling down and being propped up by the sort of support that just wouldn't get passed a building inspector in the UK. Once you go through the entrance door on the side however.. it's a completely different story.. ink black... down a few steps.. and you are faces with thousands.. thousands of human bones in all manner of sculptural displays.. skulls adorn every niche and every corner.. piles of bones behind wire fences... a magnificent central piece with hanging skulls made into lanterns.. wow... I loved it here.. I could hardly contain my excitemet. IF ONLY I could have gotten a provate visit on my own without the 30 or so extra tourists clicking away on automatic cameras and wondering why the flash wouldn't pick anything up... this is the age of ( sadly ) the phone and digital but setting up a MF camera on a big tripod would have been no mean feat. so I resorted to my trusty Canon 5 series... great in low light. An hour flew by and the bus was waiting to take us to Kutna Hora where I spent a while in St Barbaras Cathedral in the high, very high balconies amongst the gargoyles and golden cherubs before tucking into a damn fine Czech beer and a meal at one of the local hostelries in Kutna Hora.... So.. I was back in time for tea.
In the wek I got to walk across Charles Bridge a million times through throngs of Japanese tourists, meander through the Stare Mesto district, catch a puppet showing of Don Giovanni at the Marionette Theatre which was extremely funny, try the local beer and melt away in bliss in an Absinthiere down an old Prague backstreet at 13 quid a shot talking ghosts and politics to the barman until I slipped back to my hotel. Prague is intoxicating, I got to see so much, and I haven't mentioned the very moving Jewish Cemetery with graves going back to the 15th century.. another time... goodbye Prague, and goodbye Czech Republik.