People ask me about my life here a lot (particularly when I’ve been as remiss as I have lately about updating this blog – sorry!), and I’ve found myself a bit at a loss. I’ve got something of a feel for Czech culture, but been unable to explain it to others, (except my favorite Czech cookies and candy, which I am an EXPERT on, but that’s a blog for another time), except to say, “Well, they’re just kind of…wacky.” It took the last two weekends, one in Vienna and one in Prague, to start to figure it out.
In Vienna, as we touristed our way around the city with a bus full of other CIEE students, we noticed how orderly and elegant everything was. We ended up at Schonnbrunn palace, where the Hapsburgs lived when they had an empire, on the only sunny day of our trip, and decided to take the tour of the inside of the palace. We paid in euros. It was expensive, a bit, and we got a pamphlet as well as an audio guide. As we walked from room to increasingly ornate room, half heartedly listening to the classical music and British accented explanations through our headsets, it all seemed so…governmental. Proper. Bombastic, even. Vienna was rightly proud of its treasures, and they were really cool, but they were damn sure we were gonna know about it. We weren’t allowed cameras or large bags, and they had signs on every painting and locks on every door.
The next weekend, my family was here, as well as my friend Erica, from Georgetown. She was here for two days, and they happened to be two of the most … alternative days of my time here in Prague. I kept taking her to legal grafitti sites and strange art exhibits, a ska show in the basement of a club with eyes on the walls, Friday night surfaces with my family and searches for the church that has a withered arm on the side. We would pass ornate, complicated gothic statues with no explanations, or huge parks and gorgeous buildings that housed eyeglasses stores or tattoo parlors. I mentioned how disarmingly grand Vienna seemed, and Erica hit the nail on the head when I described Schonnbrunn – “In Prague, there would have been a ska show in the basement.” Its true. There would have been one old guy who didn’t speak English taking five-crown pieces (about 20 cents), a rack of postcards, and some strange stickers on the side of the sign. You could have wandered about to your heart’s content and not known what anything was, and there would have been no one there. Wacky is a pretty accurate word, but I’m beginning to think things would be a lot more interesting if the Czechs ran everything.
This is a picture of my absolute favorite thing in Prague – on the side of the National Theater, this huge, ornate beautiful building, is an LED display of this woman dancing. Next to this gorgeous thing, there she is, grooving away, night and day. I have no idea why, but I think its pretty great…