Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Buzz


Once the little secret of adventurous travelers, Prague has become the tourist destination. There are swarms of tourists, many from France, Italy and Germany. It's reached that point were the large majority of visitors are middle aged. The city is relatively safe and easy.

This has knocked it out of the running for Favorite City[1] in my book.

I had been warned, about five years ago, that it's almost too late to experience the Best Kept Secret that was Prague. I was told then that it was the time to go. I just didn't really take the chance to go until now. A bit too late, in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I still think Prague has a lot going for it. The architecture is incredible. I've never seen churches so bright and airy, nor with so much gilded sculpture. Prague Castle is absolutely huge; it's in the Guinness Book of World Records. The main cathedral, St. Vitus, rivals any other cathedral in size and beauty. Inside there are stain glass from many of the great Czech artists from the early 20th century.

As public transportation goes, Prague has a great system. Three underground lines, a myriad of street-level trams, and an extensive bus system. The narrow streets of the Old and New Towns require extensive use of a system like this - parking is just not an option for those who work in these areas.

Like Glasgow, there is an amazing amount of music here. Unlike Glasgow, the majority of it is classical. Most, if not all, of the churches have daily classical concerts. There are a large number of theatres in town with opera performances. In addition, they like their jazz here. Any bar downtown not into dance-beats or classical is a jazz bar. If you overhear anyone listening to music (particularly the bathroom attendants) they are listening to Billie Holiday or Benny Goodman.

The tourists have still been a bit of a problem for me. Perhaps it is because it is starting to become The Season. May is almost here, and with it brings the tourists. At least they're not the student tourists. I'm glad to missing all of the American backpackers, out to burn up a little time and money between graduation and Real Life.

Perhaps Prague is another city to visit in the depth of winter...

[1] The Top 5 list, currently, is as follows:

1. Paris, France
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina
3. San Francisco, California, USA
4. Babb, Montana, USA - I could live at the Cattle Baron Supper Club.
5. Istanbul, Turkey

Some where just below that is Minneapolis. I wouldn't live there if I didn't think it was so damn good.

And it's not like some of these cities are difficult, or hard to manage, or lack tourists. Take Paris, for example. It's very easy to navigate and full of tourists. Yet, there just a sort of je-ne-sais-quoi...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, all of those middle aged tourist walking around with their Rick Steves books under their arms. My My...