Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prague, Part I - Vítejte!

Vítejte! Welcome! 


Prague is my new favorite place on the planet.

Everyone I spoke to prior to this trip who had been to Prague  would have a moment of reverence; perhaps a hand to the chest and an intake of breath, or maybe a very slow eye-blink with a deep sigh; and then breathe out, "You are going to love. Prague."

I've never been somewhere in my life that such a collective of people not only enjoyed a place, but seemed, in fact, to love it on some insanely deep level. In fact, I had sort of made up  my mind to be as critical of Prague as possible, to seek out why it is that people love this damn city so much. Was it worth the hype? The moment of reverence?


When I arrived at the airport, The Gentleman had gotten in a couple of hours before and was already sampling the variety of dark beers at a cafe in the airport. This is what happens in an eXtreme Long Distance Relationship (XLDR) when you travel to places together from opposite sides of the globe: one or the other of you is going to arrive massively early, or late, or have a headache of a layover. The Gentleman had all three on this trip, so I got off scott-free. Such is life.

We took a taxi to the hotel from the airport. We'd been warned that taxis are horrendously expensive and that you're prone to rip-offs by taxis that aren't legit. We had no such problem. We simply got into the taxi queue at the airport, took the first one that was available, and enjoyed a (compared to Baltimore standards) fairly cheap ride from the airport around a bunch of turns and past a bunch of hills and stuff to the hotel (about $20, including tip). This was one of the most expensive parts of the trip to Prague. Not kidding.

While we did a number of exciting and awesome things in Prague, we spent a good amount of time just walking around. And why wouldn't you? Prague is extremely pedestrian-friendly, with cafes lining pedestrian-only areas, markets, and wide sidewalks. We wound up never using the kitschy streetcars or any other form of transportation, other than the riverboat cruise we did on New Years Eve, but that is a story for another time.

Prague was virtually unharmed by World War II (although communism won out, but we'll get into that later) leaving it as a sort of time capsule in Eastern Europe. They didn't have to rebuild anything, and the fact that it's known as The City of 1,000 Spires is fairly self-explanatory. It's witnessed Nazi armies and the Velvet Revolution, but bombs stayed far away from the historic structures and the overall cityscape has been maintained beautifully.

And so, for this episode of our Prague tour, introduce yourself to my new favorite city, the gem of Eastern Europe. Vítejte!

Was that a lame intro? It sounded terribly Rick-Steeves-ish to me. Crap. Have I gone down that road? I hope not. Apologies all around. That really was a Public Television introduction, wasn't it? 

The truth is, we ate a metric crap ton of sausage, drank a lot of beer and absinthe, went to a bunch of museums (including the Sex Machines museum, so don't get too excited that we're all cultured and whatnot), and walked around a city that is truly beautiful.

That's a much better intro, no?



Stay tuned. Food, museums, drinks, and some terribly touristy activities that you MUST take part in are coming up.

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