Impressions from a long weekend

Discussion in 'Travel Tips & Advice' started by steveb, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. steveb

    steveb Member

    Three friends and I spent 96 hours in Prague over the long weekend 1.3. - 4.3.2007 and here are some of my thoughts while they're still fresh.

    It wasn't my first visit. I was there in 1979 at the tender age of 26 with another workmate. We were both employed by the Helsinki Cable Television Company and our head of programming managed to pull a few strings and arranged a visit to the headquarters of Czech tv. It must have been quite a surprise for the staff of the Paříž hotel when an official ČST Tatra pulled up outside and the chauffeur announced to the receptionist that the ride for the two young Finnish lads had arrived. We toured the studios, admired the technology, learned a few secrets about tv technology behind the Iron Curtain which surprised us and otherwise sat in the conference room being bombarded with questions about our little company and cable technology. Lots of excellent coffee and delicious cakes.

    Apart from that, we saw the city as it was then without garish advertising. My impressions were of a slightly depressed, friendly but cautious people who were happy to see that visitors from Finland were enjoying themselves. We "did" the Old Town, the Castle area, travelled the beautiful new shiny metro from end to end and had the time of our lives in the evenings. An unforgettable evening in U Fleků watching and listening to citizens of the DDR and BRD arguing with each other about who has the better lifestyle. I also took one of the best photographs of my life in Starometske namesti, and I've taken many thousands since then.

    This time our little group stayed in Kobylisy and was very grateful for the new Metro extension. We also used the trams a lot and I was very impressed by the new technology to display the stops along the routes inside the cars. Prague has an amazingly extensive streetcar network which seems to run on time. Lucky city in that respect.

    This time we also "did" the Old Town but not Josefov, and travelled as far as Cerny Most and Chardov for the shopping centres. We travelled to Andel twice by Metro and I had what must be the most tender beef I have ever had the great pleasure of eating in the Mexican restaurant on the corner of Nádrazni and Bozdechova. Another superb meal in superb surroundings in "Donate" restaurant at Újezd 31. Other things which attracted my attention were the increase in tags and graffiti (none of it world class) and the lack of litter. The streets, trams and Metro were all surprising clear of all kinds of rubbish - even immediately after the morning rush hour there were no free newspapers clogging the floors.

    It was a joy to be able to find CDs by established Czech artistes so easily available. I bought 2 - collections by Hana Hegerová and Lenka Filipová whose music was occasionally but rarely featured on Finnish radio back in the early 1980s. And now I can listen to the lovely Czech language again when I want to! I know a few words and noticed I was picking up more during the stay. I can even pronounce Ř. But unfortunately I don't understand enough to be able to hold even a basic conversation which is a great shame because I noticed that nowadays Czechs are far less reserved and cautious in the presence of foreigners and I would have loved to chat. I would have liked to ask about the 2002 floods and the 2004 EU membership but I'll just have to read about that from old press articles.

    The group of four decided that we must return to Prague before long but first we need to see Amsterdam, Barcelona and Bucharest. So I'll see you again in about 2010. Děkuje!

    By the way, the photos which I took are for a short time on the web at
  2. wissy

    wissy Well-Known Member

    Hey Steveb,
    Great photos. They brought back great memories for me. Thanks for sharing. :D
  3. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    Hi Steve !

    Thanks for sharing !

    It's wonderful ! It recalled my memories to the sunny days on "Zlata ulice" ...and the woman voice in Metro: " Ukoncete vystup a nastup, dvere se zaviraji, pristi prestavka...Hradcanskaaa...."

    Well done ! :D
  4. steveb

    steveb Member

    The Metro announcement has been updated a little - now they say "Please"! But it spoils the rhythm!

    Ukončete, prosím, výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají. Příští stanice...

    "Stop" has changed to "station" too.

    I noticed the damage the flood did to the beautiful white marble in the metro - turned it brown and splotchy. I hope it'll be renewed some time. The colored aluminum (coloured aluminium!) tiles still look like new.
  5. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I was wrong, the exactly word must be stanice 8) They updated only prosim...8)

    The Prague's Metro system was great impession to me. It's more beautiful and cleaner than Berlin's and Parisian :D.

    And what about Finland ? I have some Finish friends here, they always tell me about the pure water from the lakes that you can drink instantly. It's so amazing ! But they also tell me they prefer the life in Vietnam more because there is too quiet, too "peace" :D

    Oh youth ! :lol:
  6. cechofil

    cechofil Well-Known Member

    Another BIG thanks to you steveb for sharing the incredible photos you took. It made me very wistful for Prague :cry: especially around this time of year. Wish I were going there THIS spring... It was almost like retracing my steps there just by looking at your pictures, though.
    BTW, what kind of camera do you use and how strong is the zoom lens? I am shopping for a new one and want that kind of detail. Of course, you also have a great talent for photography and it is obviously not just your equipment. Thanks again for the narrative and the beautiful Praha pics!
  7. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Steveb photos are just beautiful. You have keen eye for interesting detail. I never thought to take picture of the sidewalk and they are beautiful.
    Some of your pictures are outright stunning - such a delight! Thank you.
  8. bibi

    bibi Member

    I'll be there in 2 months. Hurrah!
  9. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Bring your digital camera Bibi. There is "picture" on every step.
    Take advantage of this Forum and read as much as you can. It will help you to enjoy your stay more that expensive travel agency tour.
  10. bibi

    bibi Member

    I hate to tell you this, but I am an expensive travel agency tour guide. I'll be there 6 times this year. Once a month....just like last year.

    We encourage independent tourism once in the city, but supply the people with information about the country, the people, the food, the language, all the sites, the scams, the public transportation system, and how to make the most of their time in each city.

    In other words, we're not all bad.
  11. steveb

    steveb Member

    Sorry for the double post...
  12. steveb

    steveb Member

    Just for the fun of it, I dug out all my old negatives of my first visit to Prague in 1979 and stuck them on the web so my travel companions could see them. Maybe you'd like to see them too!

    Dekuje for your kind comments on my more recent ones.
  13. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Steveb, I LOVE IT. Thank you so much for sharing. I was born there (long time ago), but first time we went back was in 1984. I have to find that photo album.

    For those who didn't experience it then:

    Prague was always beautiful, however during these years when all realestate was owned by government, it was not well taken care of. It was shabby and grey. Now, after privatization, buildings are restored and painted in pastel colours.

    Tourism was very limited in those years. Some people from "West" were actually afraid :shock: to go to Communist country and as traveller, you were considered "brave".

    Charles bridge was just "ordinary" bridge. You see only locals there - they were not sightseeing, just went about their business.

    Wenceslaw Sq. /Vaclavske nam. had street cars running through and again you see only locals. For some reason, I remember it as more interesting than now. There used to be lots of "automats" - eating places where you picked up your food at the counter and eat standing at high tables. The most popular food to have this way was "chlebicky" - many different kinds of little open sandwiches. You can hardly see them now (and they are expensive) as it is something what doesn't last fresh long and todays shops are there for business - not owned by government where "profit" was foreign word. Way back, you could have one of those sandwiches for 1 Kc (my favourite crab/mayo salad sendw.). Gulash and dumplings and beer for 10 Kc in regular tavern.

    Thank you again, Steveb. It was fun to look for details on your photos.

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