|The Historic Charles Bridge (and other|
less historic rivals) over the Vlatava River
Last weekend was a national holiday here in Austria, so I did indeed cHecK out our neighbor to the north - the Czech Republic. The capital city reminded me of Disney's Fantasyland, minus the exorbitant prices and basic rules of friendly interaction, transported behind the Iron Curtain along with blue jeans, Coca-Cola and the English language in 1993.
With my American tour guide (and friend of a friend) Jesse, I visited all of the obligatory tourist attractions, including the Charles Bridge (worthwhile), the John Lennon Wall (cool idea, lame art), and Prague Castle (site of the Second Defenestration of Prague, a tragic, yet hilarious occassion in European history). Inside the castle, which is more of a district than a specific building, I found my favorite view of the city from the top of St. Vitus Cathedral. It required a exhausting hike up an enormous spiral staircase from the 14th Century, when the average staircase climber was apparently about a foot shorter than I am. My companions and I counted the number of stairs to the top and, although none of us was accurate, I was the closest with 234 out of 237 steps counted.
|The Kafka Museum was terrifying.|
As for souvenirs, I returned to Austria with a few postcards and several days worth of indigestion from greasy Czech street food. Nonetheless, my trip was affordable, educational, and exciting and I heartily recommend Prague/Praha to any European tourist.
In honor of Kafka's vision of the modern state as a terrifying bureaucratic hellhole (nowhere more accurate than Austria and Germany), my word of the day is Amtsdeutsch or "office German." It means something along the lines of "legalese," but it refers to the indecipherable language used in German applications and forms.