On a sandy beach in the middle of a landlocked city

04-08-2004

Imagine a proper sand beach with umbrellas and deck-chairs in the centre of Prague. Although this idea might seem a bit unusual, Prague indeed now has its first sand beach right on the banks of the Vltava River. You can find it in Prague's Smichov district right next to a famous railway bridge.

Prague's sandy beach, photo: CTKPrague's sandy beach, photo: CTK Even though Prague's new beach will only open officially Thursday night, it has already been in trial use since last Saturday - with a few visitors already getting used to the idea. At first, it might have seemed a quirky impulse to bring tonnes of sand in to the middle of a landlocked town, but as Vojtech Hlavacek from the organizing company explains, Prague is not the first city in Europe to have come up with this kind of project.

"Our inspiration was the typical town beach or sand beach in the middle of Paris. I think now it is also in Berlin and in Brussels. So we are third in a capital city. The first beach in town in the Czech Republic was in Hradec Kralove, but it is a different kind of a beach. We decided to make this beach, however, now it is rather a showcase, just for the summer for a month."

So what does it take to create a Mediterranean-style beach in the middle of a Central European city?

"We decided to bring here 500 tonnes of sand. We built a small swimming pool for visitors, a tropical bar; we make also fast-food...For an active relaxation we have beach volleyball, petanque, badminton..."

The condition of the Vltava River, with regards to water pollution has perhaps slightly improved during recent years; however, it is still not so improved that you could enjoy swimming there.

"We don't recommend swimming in the river. I am not sure that the river is really clean for swimming, especially for children. We installed here a small fence to prevent the children to fall in the river, but there is a gate, so if you want to swim in the river you can, but we don't recommend it."

Sometimes, it is nice to just relax on the beach, read a book or chat with your friends. Sometimes, however, you might get a taste for different kinds of entertainment. As Vojtech Hlavacek confirms, the organisers are prepared even for this alternative:

Prague's sandy beach, photo: CTKPrague's sandy beach, photo: CTK "There are two parts of life on the beach. First part is during the day; you can relax, you can swim in the pool, you can drink and eat, you can play a beach volleyball or badminton, etc. The second part comes in the evening, when you can come for a date, you can dance, drink cocktails or play beach volleyball again. We will have parties with a DJ from a radio station twice a week; Thursday and Friday. We will also have some extra DJ events, so there will be lots of different programmes in the evenings."

The organisers claim the beach is ready to be opened for the broad public. But how about the visitors? I asked a few of those who decided to test the beach already, how they liked this idea:

"I am here for the first time. The weather has not turned out so well this time but I hope it gets better. I am here mainly for sunbathing, but they are supposed to open a swimming pool here, so I think it will be even better."

"It is nice here. It's just perfect for the kids. Of course, it is impossible to swim in the river; I don't believe it will be ever possible."

"Well I was told about it by a friend of mine. I think it's a great idea to make something like this in the centre for people."

If you're based in the city, the site is just ten minutes walk from Andel Metro station. It is open from 10am to 12pm and the entrance fee will cost you just 49 crowns.

04-08-2004