Prague

So we eventually had to say goodbye to Edinburgh, my new favorite city (sorry Kyoto, it was nice while it lasted, but you’ve been so… distant). We had a great time while we were there, and can’t wait to go back, maybe in the summer when there are a four times the number of hours in the day.

Prague is a city defined by its river, and its bridges.  In a way, it reminds me a little bit of Portland.  But sunny.
Prague is a city defined by its river, and its bridges. In a way, it reminds me a little bit of Portland. But sunny.

Now we’re on to our next stop, Prague.

Charles Bridge, viewed from the waterfromt
Charles Bridge, viewed from the waterfront

This post has been very hard to write, mostly because it’s been so difficult for me to wrap my head around this city. Prague is interesting and complex. In many ways it is unbelievably beautiful; straddling the Vltava River, Prague’s many bridges carry streetcars and pedestrians at a constant rate. Its neighborhoods hearken far back into its history, remaining untouched by more recent eras of ugly architecture.

Prague has several canals that branch off of the river, and many of the buildings display their heritage as former mills and factories thanks to the old waterwheels that still spin with the current
Prague has several canals that branch off of the river, and many of the buildings display their heritage as former mills and factories thanks to the old waterwheels that still spin with the current

It’s easy to forget the Czech Republic has only been the Czech Republic since 1989. Prague has been the capitol of Bohemia since the beginning of memory, and the central parts of town reflect that in their almost medieval feel. However, The trappings of former Communism still show.

I am oddly fascinated by all the old streetcars rattling by
I am oddly fascinated by all the old streetcars rattling by

The streetcars that rattle by every few minutes look old and tired, but have a certain kind of antique quaintness to them. The city is gritty and grafittied like much of Sicily, but the people I encounter look stone-faced and resigned, almost unfeeling. They lack the flamboyance and vibrant joie de vivre of the Sicilians. In many ways Prague feels like a very serious city. It’s as if it has lost its soul and has yet to find it again.

During the day, it's a whimsical display of businessmen floating in to work.  At night, I realized that nearly-unseen feet dangling above your head in the dark is unbelievably creepy.
During the day, it’s a whimsical display of businessmen floating in to work. At night, I realized that nearly-unseen feet dangling above your head in the dark is unbelievably creepy.

Another interesting twist is the pervasiveness of sex shops, clubs, and other “personal” services. I thought massages for the two of us might be nice since we’d been spending so much time on our feet; I wasn’t mentally prepared to have such a difficult time booking one that didn’t include a little something extra. Sex tourism is alive and well here.

The Charles Bridge is a very popular tourist spot, and I can see why
The Charles Bridge is a very popular tourist spot. It’s best visited in the morning before all the touristici are about.
Old Town Square, home of the Christmas Market, and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn
Old Town Square, home of the Christmas Market, and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn

Despite the surprises, I’m excited to explore Prague more, because I feel like a lot of real life is hidden from view. I hope our few days here will be enough time. At least it will be sunny while we’re here; that should give us the best chance for a second, closer look at this magnificent old city.

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