Le splendide voyage

Reflections on exploration & travel

Welcome to Central Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

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One day, I was visiting a Czech colleague and she asked: “This is your first time in Prague, isn’t it?” I replied:”Yes, this is my first time in Eastern Europe.”  During my childhood, anywhere east of the iron curtain and within the Soviet bloc (even after it was dismantled) was considered east.  Nevertheless, Prague lies just above the “western” Austria and also has borders with Bavaria, Germany. Certainly, throughout the centuries, these nations belonged to powerful empires!  Hence, as we continued our conversation, my friend began a detailed geography lesson.  She opened an historical atlas which displayed the multiple regional configurations during the course of time.  She ended with a generous smile and said:”Welcome! As you can see, you are now in Central Europe!” Duly noted!

When visiting Prague it is important to keep in mind the numerous touristic attractions that are available such as: Old Town Square with the astronomical clock, Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle, an array of beautiful churches, a cruise & brunch on the river, haut couture shopping at Parizska Street, or shopping along Na příkopě and ending at the modern Palladium shopping center. At Na příkopě, the latest movies in English can be seen at the Palace Cinemas Slovanský Dům. The tour would not be complete without sampling traditional Czech cuisine at the “Bredovsky dvur” restaurant, on Politickych veznu.  A true bohemian taste is offered throughout their menu, such as their appetizing fare of pork and duck with stewed cabbage, potatoes pancakes, and sauce. All of these spaces are small introductions to the assorted flavors of Prague and will leave a pleasant still-life imprint of the trip. However, if time constrains are unimportant, then walking unhurriedly through the streets of Prague will bring a broader historical and cultural awareness.

Prague rests on seven hills or perhaps nine depending on the contributor of the information. They are: Hradčany, Vítkov, (Opyš), Větrov, Skalka, (Emauzy), Vyšehrad, Karlov and Petřín.  The significance of this information is that from each elevation a different side of Prague is revealed.  The same is true for the architectural influences converging at every square and street corner.  Blocks of graceful structures and styles adorn the city: the Romanesque style can be seen in some of the Basilicas, the Charles Bridge and main battlements are Gothic, the baroque style can be identified at Troja Castle and Saint Nicolas Church, and the neo-Renaissance style shapes the National Theater. Still, there are a few unattractive and utilitarian buildings which the locals may refer when giving directions as “…it is near that dark soviet looking building.” Nonetheless, other buildings are unique and project an unexpected diversion from the norm as seen in the postmodern creation, the Dancing House (1996), with towers nicknamed “Fred & Ginger,” designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic, and the most colorful Synagogue in Prague, the Jubilee Synagogue,  built in pseudo-Moresque style in 1906.  

While embracing the reminiscences of several eras with judicious elegance, Prague, the city of a thousand spears, will enchant the traveler through its arches, passages, and architectural landscape making it impossible to think of future commitments, at least for the moment.

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