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Walking Prague

Prague, the invincible city. We set off to explore it knowing only that to understand its past would require time incommensurate with the amount of time we'd be there. And so it was, the three of us wandering the cobbled streets through Hussite, Baroque, Renaissance, Communist, and Art Nouveau influences, trying to piece it all together. We rode street cars and underground metros, walked the Hradçany and the Malá Strana, and retired evenings to a lovely hotel on a wooded street behind the magnificent Náměstí Míru church.

The Czechs are without a doubt the most friendly and welcoming people I've met in the past decades. We found them sharply dressed, good natured, and kindhearted. We never set foot in a street car without some person leaping immediately to his or her feet, offering a seat to the tourist family traveling with an 11-month old baby. We bought some baby clothes in a little shop not far from our hotel, from a woman who insisted on giving Valentina a gift as well; and even the ticket collector on the street car took the time to give us a smile and wish us well in his city. Lots of other cultures, including my own, could take lessons in hospitality from the Czechs. Continue reading "Walking Prague"

Ceský Krumlov

Czesky Krumlov

Its name betrayed the simplicity of the place, but not its elegance: Český Krumlov, the "Czech bend in the river." There in the 13th century the local village erected a husky tower from which the garrison could survey the watercourse and hillsides below. From roadside where our bus from Prague delivered us, the tower - cylindrical, drawn to a flag-bearing point over a porticoed walkway apt for crossbow-bearing archers - dominated the horizon.

But the tower's prominence receded immediately as we approached the village and the river drew into view. A dramatic oxbow bend made permanent by the human settlement that fortified its banks, the river (headwaters of the Vltava/Moldau) poured forth from the wooded foothills of the Šumava mountains, nearly touching its own shoulder blades here before hustling north to the plains and eventually through Prague. Within the confines of the switchback lay a cobbled village of whitewashed buildings, tiled roofs, and arched, timber bridges. Continue reading "Ceský Krumlov"