Monday, October 6, 2008
General Observations About Prague
Double click on this to see it in all its magnificence: it's the astonomical clock on the town hall. I really, really wanted to bring one of these home for Becky but the astonomical part on the souvenir models doesn't turn like the real thing. But that's not one of my general obserations. Here they are:
- There are way too many Russians in Prague.
- The two items you're supposed to buy in Prague are garnets and crystal. We didn't find any real bargains on either. Souvenirs, as well as garnet jewelry and crystal items, are expensive in Prague. (But that didn't stop us from buying some...)
- The sales clerks in the garnet jewelry stores (check out www.granat.eu for a co-op that mines garnets and makes jewelry with the stones) were fluent and very comfortable in Russian. They were much less so in English. I later realized that because these were women d'un certain age, they probably grew up speaking Russian, given history and all.
- Sidewalks are made up of little paving stones, about 2.5 inches square, with flat surfaces. These paving stones are pretty and much easier to walk on than the big, rounded ones we have in Belgium.
- English is most definitely the common language. I realized at some point on the trip that sales clerks and waiters and tour guides and everyone else dealing with tourists in Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary are doing so not just to deal with Americans but to deal with tourists from all over the world. We saw Asians, Frenchmen, Scandanavians, Spaniards, Brits, Canadians, Italians all using English because that's the one language everyone has. It made me feel less conspicuous as an American. We were just another couple English speakers.
- Prague is beautiful: a grande dame of city, stately in and proud of its architecture. But it's full of tourists! I can't imagine what it's like there in the summer.