OK, nothing new with this detail. Woody has kept one eye on airfares since we launched this trek. We got an amazing deal out to Spain, we wanted to make sure we capitalized on a fair deal coming back. While scoping out the options, he found a mega-bargain fare to Prague. “What the heck, let’s go to Prague!
Definitely Not In Spain
What a change! The weather, the food, the culture. In Prague, the olives do not have pits (they’re canned.) There is no language struggle, English is a natural second language (thankfully!)
The people sit down for dinner at “dinner time” (not 8:30 or later, as in Spain.) When the food comes, they eat, it gets quiet, they wrap up, and leave. In Spain, dinner lasts a few hours, it gets loud, it gets late. It seems drastically different, like “culture shock.” Well, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it is SO different.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, and what was once known as Bohemia.
Contrary to the idyllic image of a life filled with “Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and above all things, Love” (the four tenets outlined in Moulin Rouge), Bohemia was actually the opposite. It was a country of monarchy, sovereignty and restrictive rules. Bohemian lifestyle was a much later generalization, given to drifting bands of Gypsies, who allegedly came from Bohemia. From 1948 to 1989 the Czech Republic was a Communist country… nope, no nonconformists here.
The good news is, modern-day Prague is quite hip, awe inspiring, and simply a storybook destination. (Today a parliamentary system.) The house of the government is where it’s always been, and that’s just where this “storybook” begins.
I put Prague right up there with the other European biggies: London, Rome, and yes, even Paris.
Beyond the storybook draw, it is has beautiful gardens, head-scratching public art, glorious cathedrals, hundreds of spires, and is so much more affordable. Reminiscent of Austrian influence, there are several classical music venues. After all, this home of famed composer Antonín Dvořák. Or, you can listen to avant-garde electro-pop in the late-night club, Bunkr Parukarka, a repurposed nuclear war bunker. Personally, I get a little claustrophobic, so took a pass on that venue.
They Love Their Beer, They Love Their Dogs
It is clear that Czechs love their beer – they drink more beer per capita, than any other nation in the world. It’s home to the original Budweiser. Interesting tidbit: they prefer more foam to beer. We originally thought the bar tenders were being chintzy with us, we learned otherwise. The Czech Republic is extremely dog friendly. As a matter of fact, a beer with your dog is practically a national pass time. Pups are welcomed just about everywhere: public transit, any park, restaurants. For us, there is nothing more delightful than seeing a human with their beast.
Bohemian At Heart
We stayed on the Malá Strana side (little side of the river) for a few days, then the Historic District. We’ve learned the historic district is home to expats from everywhere: we met very young, teenage even, bartenders from Russia, a gal from Slovakia, and a cook from Dublin. A fellow from Pennsylvania, told us there are 20,000 American expats in this little district alone! English is the common denominator for communication. What is it that brings them to Prague? There is no one single answer, but one thing they share is the love of truth, beauty, and freedom.