Prague, no longer in the sleepy winter city of Vienna, we found ourselves thrust back into high season. Evidently, during the New Year locals take trips outside the city, and I don’t blame them, during these few days the city is swamped with tourists. A variety of flags can be seen bobbing about in the crowd as tour groups play follow the leader, and we try to weave our way to a less crowded street, and not get trampled. It’s a bit of an annoyance, and detractor, but Prague is such a fabulous city, even in the crowds its hard not to love it.
I can’t fault the others who came here. And however much I roll my eyes at the mass tour groups, I’m really no different. After all, I chose to come here too, for probably very similar reasons. But still, it does take away a little bit of the experience, as its hard not to view the city as a spectacle or exhibition in a museum when so many around you are doing just that. But make your way a few blocks off the main drags and the city becomes blissfully vacant. It just takes a bit of effort. And there is a lot to love about this city. It has magnificent architecture, complete with castle perched ideally over the picturesque river that divides the city. It boasts good food and cheap, excellent beer. There is an undeniably vibrant, lively feel of the city. Plus, it just boasts a whole heck of a lot of charm.
So, what did I love most about Prague? Aside from spending two of our three dinners eating and drinking excellent fare at Lokal, I absolutely loved, the doors. Prague is filled with an abundance of absurd, over the top, and generally awesome, doors. Walk down a ally, with generally mundane doors, as they tend to be, and suddenly, a grandiose one adorned with gold plating appears. I’m not sure what fascinated me so much, perhaps it was the unexpected, or attention to detail, but whatever it was I throughly enjoyed the doors of Prague. A few examples. I think I’ll put the first one on my eventual home.
We saw the highlights. Charles bridge, Prague Castle, the Cathedrals, the John Lennon Wall, the Clock Tower. My favorite was the Dancing House, for its bizarre and interesting architecture. All of which were, as expected, beautiful and interesting, though by the end of it, we were aching for something where our guide book didn’t begin with “this Romanesque (or other style) building is emblematic of the, something, something, something.” One’s attention span, tends to wane. Or at least mine did.
A few views from around the city:
But really, we came for New Years Eve. Prague is one of the few cities in Europe that keeps their Christmas market running until New Year. And good thing too, because one definitely requires refueling with hot wine before venturing too far in the cold and crowds. Plus on New Years Eve where most restaurants charge an astronomical amount for set menues, the market provides good cheap food (and wine, and beer) for those of us not willing to shell out. The official display of fireworks, over the bridge, doesn’t occur until Jan 1st at 6pm, by which time we would be in Munich. But, local restaurants, businesses and other, random potentially intoxicated individuals put on displays all over the city. Given our proximity to the old square and market we chose to celebrate there.
It was easily one of the most interesting New Years Eve celebrations yet. As a side note, my usual celebration involves generally quite affairs, or at most, a small gathering of friends. So the big, loud crowd thing was new to me. But I loved it. It’s difficult not to absorb the energy of a celebratory crowd. Though I’m glad we were relatively sober, as the crowd could be quite forceful and erratic. At one point we were shoved hard away from the center as a group of teens had set up a rather large firework and lit it, in the middle of the crowd, the pushed everyone away. Then, as the fireworks ended and the crowd began to make its way towards the narrow lanes that extended from the square a significant bottle neck occurred. Eventually, the crowd moved, and we moved along with it, though not really by choice, resistance was futile, and falling could be potentially dangerous. But despite these incidents, we never felt unsafe. And it was quite a lot of fun. Though I don’t know which sort of New Year I prefer, I do know this year will be particularly memorable.