Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prague in my rear view Mirror

I am feeling a little better and have tried to get back to enjoying New York and mentally reviewing our trip to Europe. I found this blog almost finished and ready to publish. I suppose I was waiting for a better wifi and forgot that I had started it. Although close to a week late it is an impression of Praha at the time.
We are on the way home from Prague, Praha, with a stop in Dusseldorf before boarding a plane to JFK. We had a great time and it was definitely a great place to celebrate a major wedding anniversary. There is a great charm in a place that considers the 700 year old part of the city the New town.
However, it was over run with tourists, and we were told that this isn't even the busy season. One person said that at the peak of the season people can wait for 45 minutes just to walk across the Charles Bridge, which is a major attraction. In my opinion it was too crowded when we walked across when we were there.
Now I am more comfortable with capitalism than my son when it comes to cashing in on an attraction, but I do think that the Pragians have taken commercialization to a extreme. At the Prague Castle, which is a major attraction and still the seat of government, there is a section of the original village behind the protected wall. There is a fee to get on the Castle grounds and there is an additional charge to go through the village. These are very small houses with door ways that are five and a half feet tall. It is charming to see a village almost a thousand years old still standing, but they have turned the small houses into souvenir shops hocking all the usual stuff one can find all over Prague. Basically you pay a fee to visit a hybrid medieval mall.
One other observation. I did not think that the people were very friendly. The usual custom, when ripping off tourist, is to smile while you are doing it. No warm and fuzzy here, in fact if you could get a clerk or waiter to actually speak at all it was an accomplishment. Those who did seem friendly also did not look local. The standard for tipping is 10%. Perhaps if they would be more out going they could up that a few percentages points.
Nonetheless we had a great time and it was indeed beautiful and quaint. Unlike Positano, Italy where I would return to anytime I could, I am not sure Prague would be on my repeat list. The bucket list yes.
As you were,

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