Friday, February 23, 2007

Praha: It's Like Candy


By Meredith Degyansky









Cobblestone streets, baroque and gothic architecture, museums, restaurants, and sausage stands line the city center of Prague (actually referred to as Praha by local Europeans). One winding river – the Vltava - divides the city and more than a dozen bridges link it together, including the famous pedestrian walkway, the Charles Bridge.

On the left bank of the Vltava atop a hill sits the most well known landmark in the city, the Prague Castle. Down from the castle is the “old town”; a hilly cobble stoned neighborhood swathed with beautiful buildings and pricey Czech restaurants. Across the river is “new town” housing the rest of the museums, cathedrals, five old synagogues and other attractions. The city of Praha is indeed pleasing to the eye; it is no wonder it has become a surreal conurbation overwhelmed with fanny packs and digital cameras.

The town itself is impeccably clean. There is no graffiti on the buildings, no trash stuffed along the curbs, no cigarette butts on the ground, and no gum stuck on the sidewalks. I immediately wondered how they kept it so clean. Whose job is it to maintain Prague’s flawless beauty? When do they do it and how? It seemed as if there was a continuous flow of pedestrians on the streets at every hour. But I still felt as if I could eat off the sparkling cobblestones. Now the water closets on the other hand better be in tiptop shape since it is necessary to pay to use any of the facilities about the town. (Tip: Keep some pocket change for when you must…) After utilizing these services multiple times, I decided the twenty or so koruns was money well spent.

Tourists certainly seem to make up the vast majority of people in Prague. The only place I saw Czech natives were working in the restaurants. The rest of the time I had no trouble speaking English and finding people to speak English to. I even met about five people from my home state of Maryland. Hearing so much English made me feel like I was in the United States again rather than central Europe. The crowds of people were overwhelming. All of my pictures contain other persons taking pictures in the background. The Charles Bridge was nearly impossible to walk across in the middle of the day. Then it dawned on me that that is why the books always say to walk across it at dawn. It isn’t any more beautiful at dawn; you can just actually see something rather than the huge winter parka in front of you.

I did not meet many locals in Praha; I am sure they are hibernating in the outskirts. Do not get me wrong; it is a lovely place to visit for a long weekend. The sites are captivating and something everyone should experience, but for everyday life, it is not ideal. It did not feel real. In the words of Professor Pedro Lange, “It’s like candy.” We could lick the ground if we wanted to. And so when I returned to Budapest, I felt a sense of relief to see dog poo on the ground and graffiti on the buildings. I could walk down the street, flailing my arms without hitting anyone. Ahh, Budapest… home, sweet, home.

19 comments:

david valker said...

it is very nice as you start, with the general mood of the city, than you continue with your personnal expressions and thoughts. I really like how you used the synonims of Prague and Praha, city; town, etc. it's also nice that you dare to say you wouldn't live there, but I wouldn't end the article negatively. I know what you mean, but it lefts the reader with a negative feeling.

herman lugaro said...

Nice article, I liked your honesty comparing Budapest with Prague.

Ugo4real said...

It is good to read an article like this one because it encourages people like me to travel abroad and get a feeling what it feels like to be in a foreign land. It is a good article, and I like the way you compared the city of Prague to Budapest.

andrea said...

I did like your wirtting, this is the first article that after a short introduction is continueing with your own experience and opinion about the city. There is only one thing and I have to agree with David is your ending paragraph: it is too drastic.

Anonymous said...

David said...
This article about Praue was very descriptive and comparitive. Meredith used both a great knowledge of vocabulary and also bombarded the reader with numbers of desciptive clauses. Her ending paragraph is my favorite part, simple, honest and real.
Good job Meredith!

Miklós said...

I like it very much! You start it wonderful. Could you post more photos? I have relatives in Praha, and I spent there probably more time than you did; I don't agree your last paragraph - I want to live there. (Additional information: My favourite author is Franz Kafka.)

Phil said...

I really enjoyed reading this. U gave us a great describtion of prague, the tourists, the cleaness. I also liked the way u give your own opinion in your conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Boma...

I felt at the moment, as if i was reading shakespeare handy work. every paragragh seemed to me like a rythm, having order, brevity and also descency. I must confess, this is a good piece of writing and i encourage you to keep up the good work.

Niko said...

Nice work! I was in Prague 2 times. During my second visit i felt a little bit like you,the city is starting to look like a store window for turists not a real city.

Niko

Prague Hotels said...

There are not many places in the world, about which I can say I love them. I have to confess, that Prague is ONE of those. Prague means for me a city for just hanging out in old streets, especially in the evenings, when the street lamps light romantic through narrow streets. I have been to many cities and capitals, but Prague is special somehow - it has the typical atmosphere -block of flats everywhere, typical trams, different architecture styles and people usually mind their own business, don’t care about others, but when start to talk to someone, they are really nice.

Fred said...

Interesting article. Prague is a highly attractive and stable economic environment for a successful property investment. Taking into account the growth of property prices in recent years properties in Prague will produce a sustainable 10-20% capital gain per year as the earning capacity of the average Czech increases. There is no better time to invest in Prague property. Strong economic and demographic factors have produced what we believe to be one of the world’s best investment property opportunities.

Lucas Owens said...

I really enjoy your use of words in this article. The way you piece them together to make sentences is reminiscent of the first successful writers in human history, but so much more evolved. You wrote a very cohesive and enjoyable piece of opinion here. My one piece of criticism is that you didn't talk enough about dog poo. You started to tease the reader at the end with a brief cameo of the phrase but I would have liked to see a larger skid mark.

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