Monday, 8 September 2008


This has been my second visit to Prague and I've enjoyed my return - a very different experience to last time, though both trips were enjoyable in different ways. But while certain streets and sights were familiar - Prague Castle, the Old Town square, the Charles Bridge, the Jewish cemetery and, er, Tesco - I wouldn't claim to know Prague well. At all.

It's true that pretty much everywhere we've gone we've just seemed to scratch the surface, but it is especially true for Prague. If Bohemia and Moravia made it into our history classrooms it was merely as a mention in the list of Hapsburg possessions, or perhaps as the subject of the Munich Agreement. The amount that we knew about the Czech Republic - which seems almost synonymous with Prague in the English imagination - before we came here could fill, well, a short blog entry.

We're slightly more clued in now, but only slightly. We've learnt about Hussites, defenestrations and quite a bit about the Prague Spring thanks to several street displays marking the 40th anniversary of this ultimately doomed attempt to liberalise the Czechslovakian communist regime. Another helpful outdoor display alongside owls, peacocks and a wall of fake stalactites in the gardens of the Czech Senate taught us about the abdication of the last King in the Czech lands and about the last Czech King. However all these history lessons, while appreciated, always created more questions than answers; we were still no closer to understanding the Czech people or their history. Which is not surprising really, as we can't understand a word of their language and despite repeated attempts we still can't pronounce their word for "thank you": dekuji.

But we're going to have to leave it there. Tomorrow we're off to Poland, feeling slightly guilty that we're only visiting the capital of this 10 million strong nation and doing nothing to shake preconceptions of the Czech Republic as being the land of cheap beer.

It is cheap though.

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