Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Life in Prague

Since schoolwork has been winding down recently and the weather in Prague is finally getting nice, I have had some time to really enjoy this city I've been living in for the past several months--and I love it.  There are so many streets to explore, so many parks to have picnics and see great views of the city, so many restaurants to try, so many theaters and concert halls to visit--I don't know if I'll be able to fit it all in before it's time to leave.
One of my favorite areas within Prague is Mala Strana.  There are tons of interesting little shops, small parks, and cute little cafes in this area.  It seems a little calmer than Old Town right across the river, and it's a nice place to just wander around.  During our first couple weeks here, I found an awesome new and used bookstore in this area in which I bought the book I'm currently reading, Atlas Shrugged.  The entrance to the famous Charles Bridge is in the heart of Mala Strana.  In fact, there are two ways to access the bridge from this side of the river: the end of the bridge and the staircase, on which a few action scenes of Mission Impossible were filmed.  Nearby, tucked in a courtyard, I found an interesting modern fountain of two men peeing.  I heard that you can text your name to a certain number and these statues will write it in the water.  
Not far from the Charles Bridge is Kampa Island and another one of the coolest parts of Mala Strana: the Lennon Wall.  Since the 1980's, people have been painting John Lennon and Beatles-inspired graffiti on this once-ordinary historical wall.  People are constantly adding to the wall, and the original portrait of John Lennon has long since been covered up, but you can still find pictures and postcards of what it originally looked like.  In the late 80's, the wall caused an uprising of hundreds of students against security police on the Charles Bridge.  Their movement later became known as Lennonism; today, the wall represents youth ideals such as peace, hope, and love.
Another one of my favorite places to visit lately has been Petrin Hill.  On Petrin Hill stands a lookout tower which strongly resembles the Eiffel Tower.  I have yet to climb its 299 steps, but I hear there are some great views of the city.  There are several places in the park with great views, and since the park is so big, the views are all very different.
Here is the view from the funicular ride up to the top of the park.  I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I just love all of the orange roofs and colorful buildings.  It's such a contrast from most of the cities in Europe, and I think this is one of the unique characteristics that makes the city so beautiful.  
From further down the river in the park, there are some good views of the newer parts of Prague, including the Dancing House by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry.
Petrin Park also stretches over to reach Prague Castle, so there are also some unique views of the castle that you can't see anywhere else in the city.  Petrin Park has so many different areas, from the grassy parts which are great for a picnic, to the restaurants, to the areas great for reading, to the hiking and biking trails, and the hidden surprises tucked into the hillsides, like abandoned houses and secret buildings--it would take days to see the entire park.   
Besides just wandering around the city and enjoying the parks last week, we also went to see a soccer game!  We headed over to Sparta Stadium to see the Czech Republic play Scotland.  There are several Scottish students studying here at CVUT, so they invited us to come, and we ended up sitting in the Scottish fan section.  It was pretty funny to see and hear their cheering methods with many of them decked out in kilts or Scottish flag capes and all singing Scottish songs and selections from The Sound of Music--especially in comparison to the extremely reserved (and silent) Czech fans.  The game itself wasn't too exciting; nothing really happened until the last 10 minutes.  But, in the end the Czech Republic won 3:1, and our Scottish friends were not too happy.  

I've posted a few more pictures of Prague from the last few days, so click here to check them out!

1 comment:

reinkebarb said...

Heather - I hope you have totally enjoyed your stay in Prague, which is nearing its end and then you'll be back in the good ole USA. Are you ready to come home? Enjoy this time with your parents and Lori as you travel Europe together. What fun - wish I was there! Barb Reinke