I’ll Take The Stairs: Story in Photos

Our (temporary) apartment in Prague is just off Old Town Square, in a narrow alley with large wooden doors on either end. After midnight, the doors are locked and the alley disappears from view, while we sleep four floors above the cobblestones.

Radiating out from the square are the streets that lead to Prague’s other delights: the Charles Bridge and beyond to the castle, side streets that lead to a busy avenue called Národní that’s packed with people and lined with workaday shops that keep a city humming, and Pařížská Street, the center of upscale shopping with boutiques from Cartier, Dior, Prada, Ferragamo, and more.

Pařížská isalso the direct route to Letna Park, or more accurately, the stairs that lead up to Letna Park, a.k.a., one of my favorite workout spots in Prague.  On Monday morning, in beautifully gray and chilly weather, I suited up in running tights, heart rate monitor, and iPod for some torture on the 190 stairs that lead to the giant metronome on the hill. That spot used to be darkened by a statue of Stalin, but in 1962, the statue was (hooray!) destroyed. (You might recall my “Burn in Hell, Stalin” WOD from 2011.)

I’ll Take The Stairs WOD
5:00 warmup up walk down Pařížská Street

2 rounds:
11 bench dips
11/leg step ups
11 pushups

1X run up 190 Letna stairs (approx. 1:45) / recover 2:00
4X sprint up monument stairs (approx. :30) / recover 1:30
1X run up 190 Letna stairs (approx. 1:45) / recover 2:00
5 bonus pushups
AMRAP: Remember to look at the view

Here are some snaps of my Letna Park gym. (And a pro tip, from me to you, because I love you: Beer, Becherovka, schnitzel, and dumplings are, perhaps, not the best training fuel)…

I felt wildly under-dressed on Pařížská Street (in my “Embrace the Suck” t-shirt from CrossFit Estes Park)  when I saw the chic mannequin and doll in this Dior window (not to mention the stylish men and women walking out of the boutiques with shopping bags. “Pay no attention to my heavy breathing and CrossFit t-shirt!”


Look at how chic the doll is!dior2

Here’s the bench where I burned out my triceps and did some prisoner step-ups to remind my legs they can lift stuff.


The stairs! The beginning of the 190 stairs.


The metronome at the top!


And the sneakers. These always make me curious… Hey, sneaker throwers! Did you walk home barefoot? Did you bring an extra pair of sneaks just in case? Friends, if you’ve ever tossed your sneakers over a wire, please lay down some knowledge in comments.


These are the stairs I used for my :30 sprints…


And in between, during my huff-and-puff recovery, I tried to remember to look at the view…



Back in Old Town Square, I paused to hold a thought for poor Jan Hus, burned at the stake for heresy when he tried to reform the church.


The end.

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  • Ahhh, I love Prague. Was there for only a few days, back in 1995, but would love to go back. Lovely and amazing city!

  • Tonya says:

    I went to Prague in February 2011, was freezing but beautiful! I however did not see the sneakers. Sounds like a great workout!

  • Reid Boehm says:

    Your pictures of Prague are beautiful. I have an idea about the sneakers. When I lived in Baltimore someone told me that people did that for someone they loved that died. I that they usually did it close to where they died (in this case- street violence). I do not know if that is the case in Prague though. It is fascinating if it meant the same thing halfway around the world. 🙂

  • Laurie LLew says:

    My college (Coe College ’85) had what was creatively known as “The Shoe Tree” on campus right outside one of the men’s dorms. I think it started as a prank and then just continued for years. Alas, the last time I was on campus, the Shoe Tree was no more. Enjoy your hard earned vacation!
    PS – Well Fed is wonderful!
    PPS – I can’t wait for Well Fed 2!!

  • Rachel says:

    Yay! I’ll be going to Prague this September. Maybe I can try this WOD out while I’m there. Heck yea 🙂

  • Tasha says:

    Considering the # of sneaker pairs, it just looks like a tradition, but usually that indicates that there’s a drug dealer nearby!

  • Betty says:

    Thanks for sharing. I know very little about Prague, so your description and photos were great. Keep up the good work!

  • Laura B says:

    In the US, in inner-city areas it means drugs are available nearby. Hopefully, it means something much different overseas. 🙂

  • Deana says:

    Hey, Petřín hill must be beautiful now, with all the blossoms? Have you been there? That used to be my preferred challenge of a workout, but it may be too tame for you. I would do that, and then stop by Bohemia Bagel! Ah, the good old days of wheat.

  • Lydia says:

    I’m with Tasha…do they know the American meaning of sneakers slung over a wire? The image of that at a monument is an amusing contradiction/bit of cognitive dissonance.

  • Susan says:

    Even in Kentucky, the sneakers over the wires are a sign of drug activity in the area. (My husband is a retired cop.)

  • Lisa D. says:

    My husband and I spent a few days in Prague in Aug 2008. I bought the most beautiful garnet ring there (that was later stolen in a home burglary in 2011). I think I need to return to repurchase it!

    Enjoy the view during your workouts. Maybe you need a new shirt that says Embrace the Absinthe? 😉

  • JennieLynn says:

    In all my visits to Prague – my favorite city – I’ve yet to make it to the metronome. I’ll have to put it on the list for next time, but no drug deal. 🙂

  • Sallie says:

    OH! The view! Worth every huff and puff I imagine…

  • Jennifer says:

    Take the stairs to the top of the astronomical clock tower. Then pose for a picture with one of the cute trumpet players. I love Prague!

  • NJ Paleo says:

    Beautiful! Great place for a workout! I would have loved to see the faces of the people who beheld your magnificent “Embrace the Suck” t-shirt!

  • Dena Maddie says:

    I love how you made a workout out of a monument. It’s so hard to have discipline on holiday! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  • Kristin says:

    Melissa – according to one blog I found… Letna Park is a big skater hang out (or used to be). Apparently, it is tradition for skaters to throw their damaged shoes over the wire like that.

  • Heidi says:

    Lovely pics!

  • dane says:

    in the US Army Infantry, an old tradition is to paint your combat boots blue and toss them up on power lines. this happens when the individual gets out of the Army, sort of like a way of saying “goodbye.”

  • Lisa says:

    Melissa J- So where are you now in 2016? I am belatedly enjoying your Prague posts… hoping all is well with you!!