I have been granted as the custodian of Vanny on my last day here at the Veeam 100 Summit in Prague. This bird is very much part of the 100 and has been handed around the Vanguard members for last few years and could possibly be the most travelled soft toy in the world at this point.
When Vanguards meet up it is the current custodian's responsibility to pass this bird on from one Vanguard to the next.
I can't want to show him some of New Zealand. As a father of three children he has been warned it is a busy household... and he may get "borrowed" from time to time.
I had a day between the end of the summit and flying home so what better way than to throw on the running shoes and go explore - we did a full circuit around old town on both sides of the river. Here is our journey.
The first 5km
Starting on the Štefanik Bridge we headed north up into Letnà Park - this provided expansive views of Old Town the surrounding areas, from the top we headed west toward Prague Castle.
The panorama below was taken from the site of the Prague Metronome which is actually pretty interesting.
An enormous monument to former soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, used to stand here.
It was demolished in 1963 and remained vacant until 1991 when artist Vrarislav Novak was commissioned and the Metronome was erected.
We continued on, and then came across quite and interesting monument.
This was a monument dedicated to Julius Zeyer located in the park known as Chotkovy sady, Zeyer, who died in 1901 was a Czech prose writer, playwright and poet.
Continuing on to the west we keep passing through this beautiful park in autumn we see views of the Prague Castle area in the distance, not far now.
As we approach the Prague Castle area it is busy and there is security to enter. This seems normal. The line moved smoothly and a few minutes later Vanny and myself were in.
Shortly after this photo there was an influx of vehicles and more of a police presence and an array of incoming vehicles.
As it happens it was Independent Czechoslovak State Day which commemorates the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak state in 1918. It became apparent there was going to be an event on (which i saw broadcast later this night on TV) as there were many live television trucks scattered about within the complex.
Walking around in the complex it is hard not to be taken back with scale and beauty this place.
Out the other side we head towards the river once more and you a presented with a breathtaking view across the city, especially on such a nice day. Below us here is the Charles Bridge which we will run down to shortly.
5km - 15km
Running down the hill and dodging large groups of people coming up to the castle complex we weave our way through to Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the river. Much like modern construction projects..... it took a while. Construction started in 1357 and finished 45 years later. Given this bridge is around 515 metres long this meant they completed around 11.5m/year.
Here is a view up the side, this is one of the most popular parts of the city it seems - it always has thousands of people on it except early morning when I jogged over it so pro tip: Go early if you want a better view, you can see from the couple of additional shots below it gives you a very nice vantage point of the river and both sides.
Back the way we came and behind us to the ~west is the Petřín Garden area, loads of walking tracks up to the top of the hill where there is an observatory and my original plan of going up the Petřín Lookout Tower.
This was not to be, we got to the top and there was a huge line probably due in part to the public holiday, it was a good run up anyway.
At this point we were about 10km in so opted to run back out the other side of the garden and down the hill toward the river - we eventually made our way down to the rail bridge which has a walkway on it and is the last chance (for a while) to cross back to the other side.
The run along the river is very nice
As we crossed the rail bridge it is hard to ignore the Basilica on top of the hill, so we ran kept running away from old town along the river.
15km to 18km
Running up there it became apparent that this was not just some Basilica on the top of a hill... it was an entire fortified royal headquarters dating back to the 11th century.
Vyšehrad which was established late in the 10th century which apparently was gfull of life in the Middle Ages. The first Czech King Vratislav II was the primary reason for this and he ruled from 1061-1092.
The below image was one on the walls before the entrance so you can get an idea of the scale of the "small" walls.
As you move through the main entrance you immediately come across this circular looking building.
I was intrigued and thankfully all of the signage is in dual language and is known as The rotunda of St Martin.
They have dated it back to being built around the second half of the 11th century. What is amazing is that there is a cannonball embedded in the façade thanks to the Prussian rampage in 1757.
The rotunda is now a religious building by Vyšehrad ecclesiastical chapter.
Following on from here it is so vast there is an entire village inside the massive walls. This included main roads, garden walks and an array of other buildings which were also had their own walls. Inception anyone?
Moving toward the Basilica which is almost right at the end of the peninsula that this occupies you walk into it's own walled courtyard to reveal what is quite possibly the most impressive graveyard ever - around the perimeter are the larger family crypts (i assume?) and occupying the rest are lots of graves dating mostly back into the ~1800's right through to recently from the ones I happened to glance at.
You can get tickets into the Basilica - as I was a bit sweaty by this time I thought against it, nabbed a shot through the window though, impressive.
Moving right out toward the edge of the peninsula is a small vineyard and some other buildings which have commanding views out both direction of the river.
18km - 24km
The next top I had been looking at that hill on the northern part above old town all week. There was a forest surrounding the narrow tall building at the top, naturally i had to get there.
The way there was mostly an urban adventure making it through streets and other buildings like the railway station.
This was a good chance to pick the pack up and get some km's out of the way too.
24km - 27km
Up another short climb and you get there, clearly this is not ancient but it clearly celebrates something.
This "hill" is known as Vítkov Hill which was the site of a famous battle during the Hussite wars in the 15th century where the Hussites defeated Crusader troops.
Now though there is a gigantic bronze statue of Jan Zizka of Trocnov (~1360 – 11 October 1424).
Zizka was a military leader and is now a Czech national hero, hence the statue!
No matter what side you walk out the expansive views across all beautiful and we can even see everywhere we have just ran.
Time to head back, we run down the hill and a short run we are back at the river containing nice wide paths for bikes and walkers/runners to share. Hard not to grab a few extra shots.
The finish line is in site, you know what though at this point I am rather hungry. Not planned this way but the start point is just down the road from my favourite eatery of the trip.
Naše maso butchery.
This place does a mean cheeseburger (yes, i know, not very "Czech") - what better way that to grab a beer and cheeseburger to replenish the stores.
There you have it. 27km and 460m of vert. Not a bad outing to finish off the #Veeam100Summit
If I end up back here I might need to try plan a different route while still including some of the hot spots, yes, that includes Naše maso ...
FYI, birds eye view (see what i did there) of our route