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Published: August 23rd 2007
Lagging Behind in Prague “Too-Much-Travel-Itis” Sets In Again
Our time in Prague is proof that Kel and I go through periods of laziness which cause us to lag behind even our own expectations of what we should accomplish in a given place. Laziness may not be the right word, its more a tiredness of travel.
Throughout the trip we have had ups and downs, times we’ve felt invigorated and times we are just plain sick of the grind. Initially these highs and lows were much higher and much lower than they are now. When we were excited it was almost a manic excitement and, vice versa, when we were sick of travels, the lows were really depressing. These highs and lows didn’t come very often but when they did they were a complete roller coaster ride.
Today we get highs and lows much more frequently but they are much less impactful. The sine wave of our emotions has become much closer to a straight line than it used to be, but we still have those times when we just can’t get motivated. Prague happened to be one of these times that motivation was
nearly impossible to find. Another Pedi-Cab Ride Which Points Out Our Folly
As you’ve seen in the last few blogs, we’ve been on our way to a full fledged trend in our activities. With the plethora of Pedi-Cabs available we have gotten slightly addicted to starting our time off in a city with a ride/tour which gets us acquainted with a town. This seems like a very smart idea at first. We get to see all of the important sights, pick out the ones we think are important to return to, and then plan the rest of our stay. What a great way to plan out a stay in a city, right?
Wrong!! We’ve actually found that we become less motivated due to this seemingly wise course of action. Since we have already seen all the important things in town, usually in about an hour, we end up thinking that we don’t need to get out and actively see things. Of course, this laziness stems from more than a pedi-cab ride. It is more a symptom of the fact that the last ten days or so have been a period of “too-much-travel-itis” (see above for
A couple of days after our pedi tour of Prague, we both looked at each other and said, “something is wrong.” After a brief discussion we agreed that the pedi-cab ride is an enabler and one that needs to be stopped. Thus, no more pedi-cab tours when we first arrive in town. We will discover what a town has to offer the old fashioned way . . . . wandering around like so many other tourists. Is Prague Really As Great As People Say?
It is easy to think that Prague is a fairy tale land of cheap beers, amazing sights, and streets made from candy whenever you talk to the average person who’s been there. Upon mentioning the word Prague, all other conversation ceases as the person across from you proceeds to expound on the virtues that Prague has to offer. Surprisingly, whenever you look back on these conversations, you find very little actual substance to the praise that had been issued. I can’t remember any specific comments about Prague that led me to believe that it was the greatest city in the world. Instead, it seems that you become brainwashed like some
poor sap stuck in Orwell’s 1984 into believing that you must drop everything and immediately get on a plane heading to the Czech Republic. I really think that it’s merely the quantity of praise that you hear that leads you to a final summation of greatness.
So, now that I’ve been there what do I think now? Well, Prague is a pretty cool place. First let me extol the virtues of Prague for you and then I’ll give you my negative list as well. It’s always good to have a balanced perspective. The Goods
Prague is definitely a heavy hitter when it comes to sights. Much like some of Europe’s other major tourist destinations the sights are numerous and worth a look. With Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, a superb Old Town Square complete with a very cool Astronomical Clock, and one of, if not the best, Old Jewish Quarters in Europe, Prague is definitely a place with lots to see.
Since Prague is not yet on the Euro, things are a bit cheaper here than they are in some parts of Europe. Beer is always the cheapest way to go in places like Prague.
Love the Strange Statues
Prague is full of strange art which is stashed everywhere. This one was pretty wacky!
If you are big into beer, the first pilsner in the world comes from this area (Pilsner Urquell), thus good beer abounds.
While it’s a bit of a stretch to say that this is a positive, Prague has a well developed tourist industry. Almost everyone in the country speaks English, menus are very often in English and people seem willing to help if you need assistance. All of these things add up to making Prague a pretty cool place to visit and make it definitely a place to add to any “must see” list of places to visit. The Bads
Prague definitely has its flaws but in fairness any place has its weaknesses. I don’t want to sound like I’m really against Prague in any way. It truly is a great place, so take this list for what its worth.
Food here is not very good. Even at the more expensive restaurants, heavy Germanic food abounds. The staple here is meat in thick brown sauce which could make even the thinnest person into a fatty. There is nothing healthy about eating here and due to the HUGE tourist industry, most food is of the cheap
and not incredibly good variety.
This last point leads me to an obvious reason why Prague isn’t great like it once was. The main reason people loved this town was because it was an undiscovered land that was free from tourists and hassle. That, my friends, has changed. Nothing in Prague can be accomplished without a crowd. Given our time at some of Europe’s biggest and best sights, I was overwhelmed at the crowds. The Charles Bridge is packed so tightly with fellow tourists that you are practically touching people the whole trip down its length. There is no peak hour either, at 2pm it is crowded and it is equally crowded at midnight. Crowds are definitely a bummer and Prague is one of the most crowded places I’ve been in a long time.
In a similar vein to the last point, Prague is no longer the cheap paradise it was a decade ago. While the exchange rate between Czech Kc and US dollars is still pretty favorable (about 20 to 1), businesses have just jacked up the prices. In no restaurant did we pay less than 5 dollars for a bottle of water and meals were never
very cheap. Frankly there are much cheaper food options in Rome, Berlin or Paris because these are cities that thrive on more than tourist dollars while Prague is a one trick pony. Conclusions
Prague truly is a good place to visit and has some great sights and history but make sure you have an even and balanced perspective of what you will be getting into, especially if you go in super busy summer. This is no longer the land of candy filled streets and cheap beer, it has become a tourist mecca which can try anyone’s patience. If you have hit some of the other big European places and are looking for another place to go, consider Prague, but just be aware of the fact that there is more to any place than the glowing praise which you may get from some people. A Pleasant Three Days of Sights and Relaxation
The remainder of our stay was very low key. We chose to take it easy and see only a few things each day while we were around. Some people could do Prague efficiently in less than three full days. We definitely
gave ourselves some wiggle room so that we wouldn’t have to run through the sights quickly.
The first day we spent in Prague consisted of a trip up to Prague Castle. This conglomerate of churches and buildings overlooks Prague from is highest hill on the west of the Vltava River. The crown jewel (if you’ll excuse the pun) of this area is St. Vitus Cathedral with its colorful stained glass. Unfortunately while in the cathedral it started raining buckets of rain. Most people stayed inside to wait the rain out while Kel and I went out and played in the rain like fools (a puddle or two was even jumped in . . . yes, by Kel!). Sometimes it can be fun to act like kids!
Our second full day was spent seeing the Jewish Quarter. This area is one of the best examples of Jewish life in Europe prior to WWII. Prague had a special status in the Third Reich as a place where Jews were allowed to collect treasures and horde them. In Hitler’s grand plan he figured this area would make a great museum someday to show items of the “extinct Jewish peoples”. Because of
his sadistic plan the synagogues in the area and the very ancient Jewish cemetery, Stary idovskỳ Hřbitov, were left almost completely untouched during the war.
If you are at all interested in the lives of Jews throughout antiquity this area is a must see. Each of the four synagogues has pieces of the Czech Jewish history going all the way back to the 10th century. Considering the number of pogroms and attempts to push Jews from the area, it is amazing to see how much of a contribution the community played in creating kingdoms and greatness of the Czech peoples.
Our final day in Prague was by far our laziest. We did walk around town a bit because the weather was better than it had been in our whole time there but we didn’t do anything sight seeing wise. We did get our laundry done which was AWESOME!! Laundry is such a great thing. Kel spent a bunch of time doing future travel planning and I relaxed.
Well, hope things are great back home in the good ole US of A. We miss you all and are counting down the time till we see you all again.
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