We woke up pretty early this morning, around 7am (6am UK time!). Knowing nothing was open in the city until later on, we sipped tea lazily in our PJs and discussed our plans for the day. First stop was the Cabbage Market in Zelny Trh, or so we thought…
It turned out the website we’d got our information from was incorrect and the market doesn’t actually run on Sundays – which we weren’t really surprised by! We decided to head down to Freedom Square or ‘Náměstí Svobody’, a short 3 minute walk from Zelny Trh square. The sun was already encouraging me to remove my jumper and it wasn’t even 10am yet! Walking parallel to the tram lines, we passed a number of small clothing shops, eateries and local supermarkets, the majority of which were still closed. The path soon opened out to the square, packed with yet more charming buildings, elaborate statues and even a giant water feature. We spotted a Starbucks and in our desperation for soya milk coffee, we made a rookie error…. On leaving Starbucks, soya lattes in hand and pockets considerably lighter, we cursed ourselves for being so silly. Two coffees and a granola bar set us back 213 Koruna – in a local cafe you can expect to pay around 30 Koruna per coffee, but the majority don’t stock soya milk. This is definitely an example of where those little sealed portions of soya milk can come in handy – I plan to get some for my trip away in August 🙂
In Freedom Square you can also find the infamous ‘Bullet’ Clock. This giant black phallic statue is supposed to represent a bullet and links to the 1645 battle of Brno in which the town fought off the Swedish army using sneaky tactics. The Swedes had said if they didn’t conquer the town by 12pm, they would abandon the fight. So, the people of Brno chimed the midday bells an hour earlier which signified the end of the battle! In honour of this, the bells chime from within the clock at 11am every day. A somewhat strange addition involves the release of a small glass ball when the bells chime. There are four slots around the bottom of the clock where you can place your hands to try and catch this ball. As there are only four holes, you’ll need to get there a bit before 11am. There were people waiting with their arms in the slots for around 15 minutes, although by the end none of them actually appeared to catch anything…
Our next stop was the Cathedral. We ended up walking past the Old Town Hall on the way and popped in to nosey at the grounds. I paid extra (60 Koruna adult/ 30 student) to walk up to the viewing deck at the top. With an unexpected onset of vertigo, I clung to the beams and gently shimmied my way around the outside, noting the magnificent views were well worth the overwhelming fear of falling to my death. The views are INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend it – especially on a sunny day. Theres also a little collection of ancient artifacts halfway up the somewhat tiresome walk to the top, although the writing was all in Czech so I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at!
We finally made it to the cathedral at midday. We accidentally ended up at the rear of the cathedral first, discovering a grassy viewing point we probably would not have got to otherwise. Along with green spaces and a view for miles, there was also a collection of walkways and seating areas and even a Greek-style archway. In trying to find the entrance, we ended up doing a full loop of the grounds, eventually coming face to face with a number of steps which finally delivered us to our destination. The cathedral was free to enter and there didn’t seem to be anyone around working there. The cathedral is surprisingly modern, with simple but stylish dangling lightbulbs that would look more at home in a shabby chic farmhouse kitchen! The decoration was beautiful, although we both noted that it probably wasn’t going to be up there with some of our favourites. Theres the option to pay to climb the viewing tower, but realising it was probably going to be very similar to the views I’d witnessed just 20 minutes previously, we both declined the opportunity.
Feeling pretty peckish after our morning adventures, we set out to find somewhere for lunch. I had created a list of vegan restaurants in the city before arriving, so we decided to find one of them – V Bistro. Unfortunately we hadn’t realised that it was May Day and as a result 80% of shops and restaurants were closed… Including V Bistro. With hunger pangs gnawing at our stomachs, we cracked yet again and went for a restaurant slap bang in the middle of Freedom Square. It wasn’t the cheapest option – I’m sure if we’d have walked for a big longer we would have found somewhere much cheaper – but it was tasty food, with vegan options, outdoor seating and prime location. Plus, expensive in Czech terms is by no means expensive in UK terms. I had a large garlic and herb pizza (no cheese) with olives, mushrooms and roast veg and mum had a large piece of chicken with prosciutto, chips and veg. We shared a jug of iced tea and the total was 492 Koruna; around £12.
Realising that all other sights we wanted to see were closed, we ended our day late afternoon and retired to our apartment. It was another chilled evening planning our imminent trip to Vienna, with yet more Czech beer – this time paired with a classic British supper of jacket potato and beans….