A great city whose glory touches the stars …
13. 07. 2018
13. 07. 2018
I am twelve years old, with great expectation of cutting the schnitzel on the bus, and my grandmother opens a little nervous plum brandy. We are going to Prague! For the first time in a real, big world where all the famous singers, actors, and just people have what they mean. Do they know at first glance that I'm from Moravia? What if we lose? And can grandmother ride a subway?
I can’t remember all the details but I do remember being thrilled about Prague during my first visit until today – the majestic Hradčany and the historical palaces, all the big-city hustle and bustle, the performance in the National Theater, the first French fries at the McDonald's, and the signs on buildings in foreign languages. "I will live in Prague one day," I said resolutely at that time. "I won’t stay the whole life in a small town, that stereotype and boredom. I'll go to concerts, speak English and dress up like everyone on TV. I'll go to cafes and I'll just live freely!"
After a few years when I visited a number of world capitals in Europe, Asia and Australia, I love Prague all the same. Although life there is not as idyllic as it seemed then. Like a "Non-Praguer", I can still look at Prague with the eyes of tourists and I know well what the most beautiful is there. Do you want to know it too?
Stories and fairytales
The history of each country is concentrated in the story of the capital. The Prague one is ancient, surrounded by fables and legends. When you immerse in the stories of the old Czech legends or mysterious Jewish mythology, you can discover a different dimension when strolling through Prague. For example: there is a statue of Bruncvík at the end of Charles Bridge. Until I read the story of a knight and his tamed lion that had become a Czech state symbol, I almost did not notice it! According to the legend, Bruncvík's sword reappears on Charles Bridge when hard times fall upon Bohemia. (So it seems so far good, doesn’t it? ☺) I like to go to Vyšehrad or to the gardens of Petřín, which reminds me of the story of Princess Libuše who sent for King Přemysl and foretold the town a glittering future, in front of whose "threshold" kings and lords would worship. "I can see a great city whose glory will touch the stars..." What if she really was a prophetess?
A morning walk through Staré Město (Old Town)
In the last couple of years, the number of tourists in Prague has so increased that even a Moravian can see it. So if I can recommend something, it's an early morning walk. The best is to get up early – at seven – at the weekend. The city is almost empty, some of the first bakeries are open, and when I break off a hot donut on my way through the streets of the Old Town and collect some great pictures, I feel better in Prague. A little like a trip. Have you ever noticed that there is one more city one floor above? Try to keep looking up and look for house signs or tiny details you would miss if you were in a hurry or in the full streets. Do you know where the plaque of Egon Erwin Kisch or the deer with a cross on its head is? On which house there is a frog or two men carrying a grape of wine in the house sign?
My friend Hana bought a ship in Prague. She called it Lady Jane, she docked in Holešovice, and when we were barbecuing at the pier, feeding swans and got out of the cabin in the morning, I felt like I was in the south of Europe. And at that time I learnt another – "nautical" – level of Prague. You can go by ship from Podolí to Prague and the Vltava valley is so beautiful! And when I want to recall the way of life in the south of Europe, I go for a stroll along the riverside and finish it at one of the restaurants along the bank, overlooking the Vltava river or the Hradčany panorama.
The phenomenon of a Czech pub
Whilst the Italians, Spaniards or the French sit around at cafes, the Czech tradition dictates to go for a beer! Our beer culture has definitely a lot to offer, we are proud of it and we can compete with the Irish and Scottish pubs with sovereignty. You can have beer and head cheese with onion, pickled sausage or sausages with horseradish “stylishly” at 'better-class' pubs in Strahov or Hradčanské Square and there are hundreds of mini-breweries in Prague and Central Bohemia. I prefer to take friends from abroad to the U Tygra, to the Strahov Monastery or to the Lokál. And what we really like in the pubs is the good old Czech Kofola. While back in communist Czechoslovakia, caffeine for its production was extracted from soot of the only Prague coffee roasting plant, fortunately, nowadays the Kofo syrup is produced from natural ingredients. And it tastes great!
Moravia in Prague
Prague is full of people from all over the world and regions of our country. The Praguers call them "transplanted Praguers". We transplanted Praguers then associate in the communities of which the Moravians are closest to my heart. Participating in one of the unforgettable traditional events which can usually only be visited occasionally in Moravian Slovakia is real experience for the body and the spirit! Visitors of Prague can also watch the traditional ride of the kings, which belongs to the UNESCO heritage, on Charles Bridge; I would recommend the more courageous to go to the Folklórní mejdlo on the Národní street, and those with a romantic soul have to visit the reverberations of the Horňácké festivities in Kampa…