Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Europe Diary - Prague and the Czech Countryside

It's the acid drum and base beats rocking in the middle of the crowded main drag, right next to the New Town Hall and Christmas market, as if that makes total sense.  Then you follow the sound and find street musicians, with ddidgeridoos, and the smell of a joint burning from somewhere nearby.  Seems like it goes hand and hand with the music.  Freezing winter night, drops of light rain, thai massage parlors, cobblestone, acid drum and base, burning pot, delicious cuisine, boiled spiced wine.  It's just cool, colorful and funky.  Exactly the kind of place I belong.

Potato pancakes and who knows...

Our hotel was cool and funky too, although it smelled like mildew and the TV didn't work.  But that's ok, we didn't go to Prague to watch TV.

We went to walk around, and spend money.  Lots of money.  How did we spend so much money just walking around?  I don't know.  Must be the damn currency conversion.

It becomes clear the city's not afraid to create and recreate it's own identity. Modern Prague is really like a melting pot of historic structures: Bohemian, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Novo, Cubist.  Sometimes one style overlaid atop another, like a painting hidden beneath the new overcoat.  It's not unusual to find buildings in the old town with Gothic interiors, Baroque exteriors, and Roman basements.

Among the playground of art history, a generation of awake Czech flourish with paintbrushes in their hands and freedom in their hearts.

As you drive into the city, you pass a series of large new buildings, a huge shopping mall, and more new eco-buildings with living plant walls and large glass windows.  Each baring the sign of some international tech mogul: IBM, Apple, Google, HP, etc.  They are like billboards announcing the new Prague, ready to dance in the free world.

We only had 24hours in Prague, not enough time to make even a small dent in the city.  But we did leave our mark.

At one of the bridges in Kampa Island, we left a padlock.  Mari scratched our initials in with a key.  Then we held the keys in our hands and together dropped them in the water.  I felt really nervous doing this.  It means that if we ever want to unlock it, we're going to have to scuba dive down and fish them out.

These statues move.  Their butts and torsos windshield wipe at different speeds.  That's the Kafka museum.

Then there's the drive through the Czech countryside, which turned out to be as good as Prague itself.  I found a pink church, and Mari found a communist era car.

This old building is in the process of being renovated as an eco friendly wine gallery, featuring local wine vendors from the region. 

It was really cold outside.

Even though it was so overcast, cold, and some buildings loosing their cement, you could taste an aura of transformation in the air.  Nothing depressing about the countryside, just beautiful and enduring.

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