Prepare for Prague; your guide to the European Indoors
Tickets? Check. Passport? Check. Koruna? Czech.
David Gillick-style hat, token tricolour, and your Irish Schools team jacket from 2002 wrapped around your waist? Check.
Survival upon arrival
When you arrive at Prague airport, this is what will happen: you will walk out and see nothing of any help whatsoever, feel like a lost child in a supermarket, and you will soon be directed towards a taxi. If you’re staying in Prague city centre, do the smart thing and check out Cedaz transfer bus located in Terminal 2 and pay about 4 euro/120 koruna for the 30-minute trip straight to Náměstí Republiky( Train Station) just outside the old town or alternatively a taxi which will cost up to 700 koruna/25 euro for a 15-minute trip to the city centre.
If you are heading for the full championship in the 02 arena, the first Irishman in action is Adam McMullen, on Thursday at 5pm, for the Long Jump qualification. This should be wrapped up by 7pm, at which point you need to get yourself to the nearest tram station and pay the €4 required to get you to the cultural heart of Prague. The track is out of town but you can catch the No.3 tram and that would take you to Wenceslas Square in 6 stops, or the No.8 tram will get you to Republic Square in 4 stops; the Old Town Square is only a five-minute walk from either.
Hit the old town
The issue with Prague is that your map is essentially a guide to confusion. Stick it back in your pocket and wander. From either tram stop you will be able to see the Twin Steeples of the Church of our Lady before Tyn; head towards these and you will hit Old Town Square. If you have managed to get this far, watch the statues move on the hour at the Astronomical Clock, which only happens from 9am-9pm. It’s a big deal for visitors to Prague, but we won’t lie: it’s rather anticlimactic.
Have a beer, but beware: they’re dangerously cheap
After that stick your head in the many watering holes in the area. If it’s 120 koruna (4 euro) for a beer, you are paying too much. Get out of this square in any direction and you will find your €1 nectar of the gods. Don’t stay out too long as there will plenty of Irish action on day two. The green brigade roll into action starting with Gerard O Donnell in the 60m hurdles heats and ending with the dynamic duo of Declan Murray and Mark English in the 800m heats.
Friday, 6th March (All times local; for GMT subtract one hour)
10:32 60m H M R1 Gerard O’Donnell
11:48 400m M R1 Dara Kervick
12:20 800m W R1 Ciara Everard
12:41 800m M R1 Declan Murray, Mark English
Pop out for some lunch; an expensive meal will cost you about €9, but normally if you are paying this much you are either overpaying or it’s going to be one mighty fine lunch. Most places offer lunch for as little as €3-4. Make sure to try the local pastry Trdelník, a Sugar and Walnut-covered Grilled Pastry. Go nuts. It’s great.
The evening session, please GOD (pun entirely intended), will hopefully be a fruitful one for the Irish with the semis and final of the 60m hurdles, long jump final, 400m for men and also Paul Pollock in the men’s 3000m.
16:25 60m hurdles men’s SF Gerard O’Donnell
16:50 400m men’s SF Kervick
17:55 Long Jump M F Adam MCMullen
18:00 3000m M R1 Paul Pollock,
18:55 60m H M F Gerard O’Donnell
At this stage, we will hopefully we celebrating some excellent Irish performances and with plenty to chat about, it’s time to venture back into the old town. Follow the signposts and beg, borrow and steal your way to Charles Bridge, which is quite the sight at night.
A quick stroll across will also bring you close to the famed John Lennon wall; it’s behind a building on your left as you cross the bridge. Enjoy many tourists attempting crazed poses with selfie sticks in the bitter cold. At this stage, Gerard O Donnell and Adam McMullen, newly crowned champions of Europe will surely be partying the night away in the KARLOVY LAZNE, a crazy five-floor night club containing five different DJs and an Ice bar. Mental… according to the brochure. Stay off the Absinthe. I repeat: STAY OFF THE ABSINTHE.
Saturday, 7th March
The late start allows you to let your dancing bones recover and make your way down to O2 arena in plenty of time to see John Travers and Daniel Mooney kick off day 3 of Praha 2015.
11:50 1500m M R1 John Travers, Danny Mooney
18:00 800m W SF Ciara Everard
18:25 800m M SF Mark English, Declan Murray
19:45 3000m M F Paul Pollock
20:07 400m M Dara Kervick
Another fine day of Irish performances to whet the appetite and drag yourself and as many Athletics Ireland officials out to the old town again; this time make sure to stop at Wenceslas Square and see the looming National Museum at the very top, lit up like a Christmas tree. More of a rectangle than a standard square, it is a slightly uphill concrete corridor of shops, pubs and restaurants that seems far longer than necessary.
Saturday at the movies is an unlikely option given Hollywood’s sinful lack of soul and creativity these days, so with more cheap beverages on offer, one of the most popular spots is Roxy Nightclub. Best of luck finding it; the easiest thing to do in Prague is always just ask.
Sunday, 8th March: the grand finale
With no morning session today, this is your one chance to see Prague in the cold light of day and it’s going to be cold, with temperatures regularly below zero. Get your sorry self out of bed and go visit the largest ancient castle in the world, Prague Castle, a 9th century behemoth. It’s even bigger than the Tesco in Bettystown, I promise. Don’t even bother paying the entrance fee; just have a wander around, check out the city views, make sure to catch the changing of the guard at midday and what must be the only medievally-dressed soldiers, supplied with Aviators, march in step. After that, march yourself back to Prague’s district 8 for one last bite of athletics.
15:12 800m W F Ciara Everard
15:30 800m M F Mark English and Declan Murray
16:30 1500m M John Travers and Danny Mooney
17:55 4×400 M Team Ireland
You will see the word Bohemia regularly throughout your stay in Prague, on signposts and shops. It’s the old name for the geographical area you are now in. The name supposedly contains the tribal name Boi- plus the Germanic element haimaz, meaning ‘home’. The Boi were a tribe of Celts and hopefully this tenuous connection can give us hope of a successful sojourn in Prague.
Best of luck to all on Team Ireland and especially to JumpingTheGun’s very own Gerard O Donnell.