Tuesday, March 12, 2002

If it ain't Baroque...

Prague, Czech Republic
Woke up around 7am, didn’t feel like getting out of bed until 9. The shower has hot water. I think today will be spent walking/touring the Old and New Town areas, and the Jewish Quarter. Tomorrow I’ll cross the Vltava and see the castle and the Little Quarter. I went up to Mustek to get my 3-day Metro pass, and had to wait about 15 minutes for the cashier to come back. I strolled into the Old Town, cashed about $60USD at a bank.
I hit the Staromestske Namesti about 11 am, only to find it cluttered with what look like fairground booths. It kind of takes away from the impressiveness of the square. Just before noon, I picked up another klobasy, only to find I’ve either been getting progressively worse made ones, or had my fill of them. I caught the show at the astronomical clock at noon, not really photographic, just impressive because it was made and perfected by 1572.

There is a country music station in Prague that played Czech covers of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walking, CCR’s Lookin’ out my Backdoor, Day-Oh, Alan Jackson’s Chatahoochee, Joan Baez’s Where have all the Flowers Gone, and Eric Clapton’s Lay Down Sally. That and techno seem to dominate the charts.

I walked all around the Old Town, then up to the Jewish Quarter. Where my camera went nuts. I had used about 11 shots, and it refused to turn off. I bought a new battery, something sounded weird in the zoom mechanism. So I tried to rewind it using the button. I heard it moving inside, and after a minute or so I thought that I had it rewound. Nope. All the film was just sitting there. While I opened it in the darkest hallway I could find, I expect it’s ruined. With any luck, the next roll will work out.
The picture that broke my camera
I strolled around the Jewish Quarter, then headed down to the Karluv Most, the main bridge you see in photos of Prague.


Wouldn’t you know it, there is some kind of production crew blocking one end, cluttering up one side, and prohibiting access to the other. One of my pet peeves: people* relaxing in front of places they know are prime tourist photo spots. My overall impression of Prague is that it’s quite nice, but the sunshine and blue skies take a little away from the “Romantic” feeling that the city is supposed to have.

Took a break around 3pm to enjoy the warm sun, cool breeze, the river, and a Pilsner Urquell.
Having accomplished everything on my list, I set about confirming my train info. I took the Metro to Wenceslas Square, a poor description of the 750m by 60m public space in front of the National Museum. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a flyer for a Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Dvorak concert “on the stairs” of the National Museum. What that means, I’m not sure. But I bought a ticket around 4:15 and the concert starts at 6, so I’m on my way to the train station. My train info is correct-that should save me a little time on Wednesday. I meandered to the Metro Station and took it to the Muzeum stop. Still 15 minutes before doors open, so I search for food. While I told myself no fast food this trip, I’ll let it go since I’ll be getting McDonald’s in a former Socialist country. The BBQ sauce tastes different.

The concert on the steps is just that. I sat on a cushion on the grand staircase while a violin, cello, and piano played on the landing. The first couple of pieces I was working up the nerve to take a photo (no flash), and I only adjusted the zoom during applause. When I finally took the photo, I felt like the noise from the auto-advance was ripping thru the piece, but no one nearby took notice. The concert took about an hour, after which I went back to Staromestske Namesti to see it at night. Looks kind of like a Disney World attraction. I walked down to the Karluv Most, again for the same reasons. Having run out of film, I caught a tram back to my apartment, around 9pm. I wrote up some postcards to mail tomorrow. Then watched the English news broadcast and went to sleep.

*: Ugly and unstylish people who make it look like a trailer park, you know, the ones you really wish weren't in the background of your otherwise beautiful pictures.

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