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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Day 4: The Touristy Thing

Hradcany Castle

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to myself on a Monday-Friday schedule once I start teaching, so today I went into Staré Mesto (Old Town) and some other interesting spots.

Prague Spring Display

August 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the infamous Prague Spring, so labeled because in the spring of 1968 the Prague intelligensia encouraged each other and thus the people to proceed towards a softer form of communism, one that allowed free expression of artistic and individual tastes. At first, the reformist Dubcek government went along, but as the small-beer freedoms turned to protests demanding for democracy (more of less), the Russians decided that the Czech government wasn’t able to ratchet back what they had started. So on August 21, 1968, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague to crush the “rebellion.”

Wenceslaus Square

This month the city celebrated that anniversary with television retrospectives, government symposia, exhibits around the city (and country, actually including Slovakia as it was part of the country back then, and its capital city, Bratislava, saw its own Soviet Invasion), and a special exhibit at the National Museum (which stands atop Wenceslaus Square, an icon of Czech nationalism). The Museum is an apt place to hold an exhibit, as it is itself an exhibit, because you can still see bullet holes in the facade where Soviet tanks shot .50 caliber bullets into the building. I suppose they thought the “Rocks & Minerals” exhibit was going to come to life and throw themselves at the tanks.

St James School

Namesti Miru is a big square just south of Wenceslaus Square. Its centerpiece is a big Gothic Church, surrounded by tram stops, and a few nice sidewalk cafés one can sit for a beer or coffee. Namesti Miru is also the site of St James Language Center, where I start work in two days. The pink building in which the school is housed can’t be missed, so my quick commute from Suchdol can be made through the haze of morning.


Prague Astronomical Clock

Old Town Square has several sites worth mentioning, the most important for this entry is the astronomical clock’s ascension toward Virgo’s zodiac sign. The clock has been in continuous movement since 1410. Its specialty is the moveable King figure opposite the embodiment of Death. The metaphor: time is your enemy, King-dude, so don’t fuck up your responsibilities towards the people. Tourists gather each hour to watch this spectacle. I grabbed a pistacio gelato and oggled college girls in short-shorts.

Prague Shopping Arcade

Prague has lots of shopping, just as you’ll find in every city around the world. What you won’t find everywhere is the abundance of arcade-style malls that you come upon in central Prague … sort of like picking gum off your shoe, but with a gold coin stuck on the end. Most of these arcades cater to tourists these days, but you’ll still find the odd boutique that has some quality stuff.

Metro stop Namesti Miru

The subway system is clean, well lit, and fastly functional. People are mostly polite, and the automated voice giving stops is loud and clear. I note all of this as contrast to such places as Chicago, London, New York, and Paris. Though they function, you’d better know when you need to get off the train, or else you’re going for a ride.

Food Cornucopia

Home-sweet-apartment is coming along, and there’s nothing better to have waiting for you at the end of the day than food, wine, and a nice place to sit for some music and read a good book. And, of course, when Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” comes on the iPod, you just have to reach for the wine (see the Buckcherry x-rated version of this video).

Suchdol Bedroom

1 Comment »

  ClaireMargaret wrote @ August 28th, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Love the plant, a smaller version of the one from “our” Jen.

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