Posted by: David Stewart | November 7, 2011

Use cash or credit, they don’t take Czechs

View from Duplex Club in Prague

Prague is a fantastic city to visit. When I visited in 2008, I came away with the impression that Prague is a little like Paris, only cheaper and with less "attitude". The Czech people seem quite happy to have tourists visits, even those who don’t necessarily deal with the tourist trade.

 Dinner with Yocto team members and families, PragueThis impression still holds in 2011, and given the various economic and social issues troubling Europe, it might be an even better choice. The cost of food and lodging is reasonable, there is a wonderful public transit system, and the spirit of the place on the streets is positive. And the currency is the Czech Crown, not the Euro.

The thing which really amazed me was how many tourists were in the typical tourist areas, like some of the streets in the Old Quarter. After all, October in Europe is not necessarily a high season for vacationers. At some points, I wondered aloud to my friends, "Recession? What recession?"

Fortunately, even though one street might be jammed with people, the next street over might be completely empty. In this respect, the old city is like Venice. A lot of people complain that Venice is jammed with tourists, but just a block away you can have a totally empty street populated just with kids playing soccer.

Koen's fish, Klasterni Pivovar Strahov, Prague

 

Food in Prague is hearty, with plenty of meats and starches. It’s a good accompaniment to the beer. Even though the human race has been making beer for millennia, the Czechs are credited with the invention of modern beer making. And the Czech people seem committed to ensuring the ongoing popularity of the beverage by being the top consumers of beer per capita. To paraphrase one tour guide, Czech women like their husbands to drink beer and eat well so they will get a belly and not stray.

After I came home, I spoke with my friend Tom Houser who told me he visited Prague in the 1990s, just after the Velvet Revolution which overturned the Soviet dominated government. What an amazing contrast – from a country shaking off the slumber of Soviet control to a country today jammed with tourists and freedom.

And here’s irony for you: The Velvet Revolution was marked when Vaclav Havel stood on the balcony of  the Hotel Europa and addressed the hundreds of thousands of his countrymen in Wenceslas Square. Today, in the building just next to Hotel Europa on the Square, we celebrated a party in a tony multi-level nightclub called "Duplex." There’s some history for you.

More photos of my recent Czech trip in my Flickr set.

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