Hey check it out - for once, the picture with this blog is one that I actually took! I caught the moon rising over the river just at dusk.
Have you heard anything about Prague? Everyone says it's great, but I never heard why until I got there. It's like one of those places that's famous just for being famous. And, to be sure, this place has more tourists per square kilometer than anywhere we've been so far, except maybe Venice. They clog the streets, fill the cafes, and force the entire local populace to learn English, German and Italian... Rebecca and I barely got to use any of our Czech phrases at all. On the plus side, if you're ever lost, all you have to do is find a river of tourists, meld in and you'll flow to some main square or other.
Once you get past all that, the city does have quite a bit to offer... really cool medieval architecture for one. The castles, cathedrals and bridges are all gothic, with dark, foreboding towers, and the main plazas and streets are made of heavy stone. They all kind of loom over you and create a gloomy, rainy feeling that I really enjoy.
There are also a lot of unique cultural opportunities, which were hit or miss. Hit: the locally famous Spejbl Hurvinek puppet show, which every Prague native remembers fondly from childhood. Indeed, when Rebecca and I caught the last show of the season, we were the only people in the audience older than 10 or younger than 40. But never mind, it was professionally done, really cute, and quite funny (although since it was all in Czech, I'm sure we missed some of the jokes). Another hit: sipping a slow beer and catching a bluegrass band, of all things, at a tiny club downtown. Miss: the so-called Blacklight theater. True, it is kind of a cool concept to dress your actors up in glowing suits, add in glowing ladders, glowing waves and glowing mathematical abstractions. But after a while, you realize that all the blacklight in the world can't hide the fact that theyre just rehashing some nauseatingly cheesy "modern dance" moves from the 80s. And glowing.
But probably what I will remember most is not Prague itself, but the kind of people that it attracts. The most fun that I had was playing board games in the basement lounge of our hostel, meeting various Australians, Canadians and Seattlians. There was the crazy club we went to one night, which was a maze of mechanical interiors, with gears, car seats and creepy machines. Like one of Terry Gilliam's nightmares. And there was the place down the street to get fancy Italian pasta dishes for really cheap, and the night we improvised bean-and-pepper fajitas in the hostel kitchen, and... you get the idea.
Rebecca and I ended Prague in a great way, too. The two of us took the tram to a quiet street a few blocks up from the river, climbed a tower perhaps four flights, and came to a magical tearoom. We have been to several teahouses since then, but it's still the most comfortable one I've been in. Lofts, pillows, little tables, a bookshelf, even a sitar/ singer combo showed up. It was a great way to while away a rainy afternoon.
Was I sad to leave? More like relieved. It was a good place, but I'm ready for a little peace and quiet.