Now that I’ve been home two weeks, I’ve unpacked, washed clothes and thought about my two months in Prague. It’s time to spell out the Top 10 Things I Will Miss about that city. Then I’ll deal with the Top 10 Things I Will Not Miss and finally Lessons Learned from my travels. In between I may stick in a few visuals I love but didn’t post and some other random thoughts. But for now, here’s what I know I will miss…in no particular order (because every time I try to rank them, I change my mind!).
10. Public transportation. It was a standing joke with my friend Olena, one of the students who visited Kent State in 2014. She was amazed how limited our system is in Kent, Ohio, and I was more than a little concerned about getting around on trams, buses and the metro in Prague.
Silly me. Once I had that průkaz (card) that allowed me to ride anything and everything, I was set. Prague’s system is clean, efficient, easy-to-understand and on time. I took it to the zoo, the ice cream festival, the airport, the outlet mall and any place I couldn’t walk in a half hour. The next stop always flashed on a digital sign on the tram or subway, letting me know where I was. And while I couldn’t exactly translate all the words from the digital voice on the subway, I was pretty sure it meant, “Please step away from the doors. The train is about to start.”
9. History everywhere. There’s nothing like a trip to just about any place in Europe to make someone from the United States feel like a child when it comes to history. Prague has the mixed blessing of not being destroyed by bombs in World War II — because the Nazis were just allowed to walk right in, thanks to the Munich Pact.
That had many bad results, but it did save places like St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle, a site that started with Romanesque rotunda in 925, which became a basilica in 1060, and then a Gothic cathedral in 1344, which was finally finished in 1929. Or St. George’s Basilica, the oldest surviving church building in Prague Castle, dating back to 920 (above).
8. Music of all kinds. Whether it’s the blind accordion player on Charles Bridge or a string concert in a Gothic cathedral, Prague has music everywhere. Much of it is free, though tossing a 50 Kč-coin into an open violin case is expected from anyone who stops to listen. Unfortunately, actual concerts rarely allow photography, so this is a sampling of what is simply in the streets (or on Charles Bridge).
The rest of the Top 10 will follow shortly.