World Travel Wednesday: Prague

I am back to blogging today with a renewed dedication to posting regularly. I’ve missed about a week. Life happened, and I had to go deal with some personal issues. But everything is great now, so hopefully I won’t be missing posting that much again any time soon. Today’s travel topic is one of my all-time favorite places on earth: Prague, Czech Republic. I would love to go back there one day. It’s so beautiful, historic, culturally interesting. I love the way the Czech language sounds — like skiing. I know that is a strange thing to say, but to me it sounds like skiing. Or maybe ice skating. Something fast, icy, and slippery.

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Located on the Vltava River, Prague has been the political, cultural, and economic center of the Czech state for more than 1100 years. The city proper is home to more than 1.2 million people.

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Old Town Square dates back to the 12th century and is surrounded by beautiful architecture. In the center of the square is a statue of Jan Hus, whose religious teachings influenced the Moravians (local Winston-Salem connection). Hus was considered a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church, and he was excommunicated and burned at the stake for his beliefs in 1415. I find it significant that Jan Hus is still considered a national hero in the Czech Republic. They are in general a very strong-willed, philosophical, and strongly principled people who believe fervently in freedom and individuality. I find that I am particularly drawn to people who could be described that way, and maybe that’s one reason I felt so at home there. The country only gained independence as recently as 1993, and joined the European Union in 2004. I love how they continue to overcome centuries of oppression.

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There is also a really awesome multi-dialed astronomical clock from 1410 in Old Town Square. It is supposed to display the current state of the universe, a concept I find endlessly fascinating. I’ll tell you a huge secret here: one day I’m going to write a book about this clock and its history. The clockmaker’s eyes were gouged out to prevent him from making a second one for another country, and he died while touching it. After which it remained unrepairable for many years. In addition to all the dials and scientific information it reports, it’s a thing of beauty and a true work of art. One of my favorite elements is four figures flanking it which represent four things that were most despised at the time of its construction: vanity, greed, death, and infidelity. The thing has been shot up by the Germans and repaired countless times…and it is still ticking, 600 years later. How’s that for inspiring?

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One of the most beautiful sights in Prague is the Charles Bridge. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700. During the night Charles Bridge is a quiet, serene, foggy, mystical place. But during the day it’s full of painters, kiosks, and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.

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If you make it to Prague, be sure to take a bus to the countryside one day. My friend Stepan’s family has a summer house in the village of Predborice, which is very small and rural and actually reminds me of the landscape of the North Carolina foothills with fewer trees. This is the region of Bohemia, which I had to visit because of my affinity for “bohemians” of all sorts. This is where the best beer in the world has been made since the 1100’s. Yes, it’s only my opinion. But the Czechs know what they are doing with the beer brewing. They have the highest per capita beer consumption of any country in the world. That’s right folks, the Czechs drink more beer than the Germans. My theory is that it’s because theirs is so much tastier. The Czechs invented pilsners and a type of beer called budweiser that is now better known as a brand which has nothing to do with the beer it’s named after. In Predborice, we walked beside a cow down a dirt road, to a bar that was a former schoolhouse with blackboards still on the walls. It was dark and cool and ancient. And the pilsner was hands down the best beer I’ve ever tasted. Ah, good memories.

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1 Comment

  1. guideontravel said,

    February 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    You have spend your holidays very nicely….In your list every place is great attraction…….I really like to be visit these places….Traveling during the holidays is always interesting. I also having some good information about India travel…..


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