Heading off to the old town, we passed by another historical monument, the St. Michael’s gate, that acted as an entrance to the city. Dating back to nearly the 13th century, the gates at the time were the only way of entering the city walls. The smallest amongst the four gates of the city, the gate was named after St. Michael and the Church that stood in front of it.
The old town was as in many cases, like taking a step back in time. Narrow lanes, old style shops, merging with the brand new fast food joints and burgers, combined with brick layered streets, one could simply walk these lanes for hours. The one interesting element of the old town was the market that we so much heard about. Expecting an array of shops, this one was interesting in that these were rather cart driven stalls that were all in a small place, forming an array of shops and lo behold that was the main market.
What was also interesting as we passed by the town and also in many other places were the number of fountains that we went through. Many were works of art, many as we learnt were constructed to provide a drinking water supply to the people of the city and commissioned by the Kings of the day and going back centuries. It was indeed impressive to state that most of these were still functional, with the architecture intact and an absolute blessing on a hot day, with the water ice cold.
Another beautiful city or town that we passed by, with the streets filled with gems of various kinds. Statues of kings gone long back, of war heroes, every stone / metal figure had a story to tell. Be it Napoleon standing next to a chair or another Japanese guard at the other end, each one had a history behind it. It was simply a wonder that I was able to gather the different bits and pieces that were on offer by the guide, and making me regret that I was not paying that much attention to the guide but more on the photographs, but then hey, this was a city that was a surprise every few steps.
From the cobbled streets with impressions of the castle impressed upon them to the crown images on the street showing the way to the Castle to the sandstone fountain statue of the lady with the lamb, we headed off to our next stop, Lunch !!
Lunch turned out to be an interesting twist, as it was not only at an Indian Restaurant, but it happened to be on a boat. Not a cruise, but lunch on a Hotel Boat. It was not one of those that we had grown up watching in the movies, but fairly good, with Hotel rooms on the lower level and the Lunch stateroom on the top. The weather not being too brilliant, and the boat bereft of an Air Conditioner, not one what one would call a cool lunch, but still pleasant overall. The surprise of the Lunch was the Birthday treat that the wife got (being her Birthday) and it was indeed an awesome feeling to have a cake arranged so far off from home and celebrating it with near and dear ones.
Lunch over, it was time to head of the Czech republic, Prague, where in as normal a packed itenary lay in store for us. However as luck would have it and as the saying goes, Man proposes, God disposes, we encountered one of the best traffic jams seen in a long time (per our driver, it was the worst he had ever seen in his life, and that coming from a person who did cross country driving daily). A journey that was expected to take a little over 3 hours, took nearly 7 hours to complete with the cars stuck for miles on end as far as the eyes could see. What did not help was the fact that the return road to Budapest was clean, it seemed the entire country of Hungary was joining us to Prague on our tour. And as with all major traffic jams, five and a half hours into the jam, as we reached a particular point, the jam simply disappeared as if it never existed. Oh well, such is life.
Prague in, considering the time spent on the road, not many takers for a late night, post a quick Dinner at the Indian Restaurant, which amazingly served some excellent Pasta and Jeera Aloo, the beds were the only thing in our minds as the decks were hit.
Day 4 would see the Prague tour commence…