Prague

Prague is, without a doubt, the most amazing city I’ve visited. With narrow cobblestone streets and a huge amount of medieval architecture, it literally has almost magic feel, especially as you move from the Old Town, across the Charles Bridge, up the hill to Prague Castle.

I went to Prague in November 1997 with a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Charles. We were there four days, I believe. Or at least that was the plan. We missed the bus to get to Kraków to get the train to Prague, so we ended up going a day later.

Prague is also a favorite city of mine because it was there that I took the best picture I’ve ever taken in my life (at right). I stood across the street from this gentleman with a Zenit camera and a 200mm lens, and I waited probably ten minutes for all the people and cars to clear out.

Some indie band once contacted me about the possibility of using that photograph as the cover to their album. Somehow, it all fell through – and I’m fairly sure that I have committed an unforgivable sin and lost the negative.



Old Town

The Old Town has a smallish market square (of course everything is small when compared to Kraków’s market square), but it is a pleasant place to start.

Views from the tower (Staromestská vež)

Charles Bridge (Karluv most)

Linking the Old Town with the Malá Strana (area just below Prague Castle) is Charles Bridge, stretching across the Vltava River.

All along the bridge are Baroque statues (first placed there in the seventeenth century, now replaced with replicas while the originals sit in museums), local artisans selling their wares (everything from pipes to paintings), musicians playing all types of music (on everything from guitars to wine glasses), and people just sitting alone, being quiet.

Charles and I crossed it a number of times, and yet it never seemed to lose its charm. I always wanted to linger a while.

(More information on its history is available at www.myczechrepublic.com)


Prague Castle from the tower at the Charles Bridge
Gargoyles atop St. Vitus Cathedral
Entertainers at Prague Castle

Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)

Founded in the ninth century, Prague Castle overlooks the Charles Bridge and literally seems to draw you to itself. In the Middle Ages, it served as the spiritual and monarchial seat; today, it serves as the “seat of the Czech president” and storehouse for some of the royal jewels.

(More information on its history is available at www.myczechrepublic.com)

Among the highlights is the fourteenth-century St. Vitus Cathedral, impressive for its immensity, and the Golden Lane (Zlatá ulicka), impressive for its dwarf-size buildings. There are gardens all around the castle, Taken all together, it makes for a fairytale feel.

Prague Castle

Of course, while there, I scribbled away in my travel notebook:

This city is filled with tourists. I’ve heard very little Czech on the street, but a lot of other languages, primarily English, German, and a lot of French. Everyone is taking pictures, and you run into a tour group every five minutes, if that infrequently. You have to wonder what the place would be like if there were fewer people. But it is nice to take pictures and not feel quite so conspicuous about it.

I thought about going to a concert – Prague is suppose to be the land of inexpensive music. If you’re here on dollars, then yes, it is quite reasonable. If you’re here on złoty, however, it’s quite a different story. The performance I was interested in was 400 Kc, which is about 40 zł. That’s only a little over $10, but for me at the moment, it’s entirely out of my price range.

A note on the photographs: they’re note exactly clear, I know, and they’re also not exactly representative of Prague. I’d just begun playing with black and white and it was the first trip I went on without any color film whatsoever. Charles had color film, and though I’ve scanned some of his excellent pictures, I can’t find the files now. It’s a shame – his night pictures werestunning.

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