Prague: Where I realized I have a heavy trigger finger
Prague is a stunning city caught between old and new, east and west, and a rich old history while trying to make waves in the modern world. I loved it, for so many reasons. I am honestly a closeted history nerd. I will never spout out dates for you, numbers were never my thing. But I will gladly pull out random history fun-facts when I panic and don't know what to say. Also at parties, or when I am driving past a historic site, or just because I am bored. So Prague was perfect for me to fill up my fact bank with some new little factoids. I also love the beautiful picturesque city landscape. Four days was just enough to see all of the sights but not nearly enough to fully immerse myself in the culture.
Of course I couldn't let a second go by without capturing it all. Not even kidding, I took about 1,293 images in four days. Thats about 13 images per hour, assuming I never slept. I never approached digital photography with a weariness to only photograph the important things, not in the way I approach film photography. With film I plan, I decided what each roll will be for and what I want to capture for each frame. I never take a photo just for the sake of taking the photo. With digital on the other hand, I always assumed what if I didn't take the photograph, would I regret it, would I need it later on. What if in a few weeks someone asks me for a photo of a random door in Prague that looked unique and cool. So I shoot away, filling up memory cards with the thought that maybe they will all be useful. I can always delete them later and it would be like it never happened.
Now I am not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary, I always prefer to have more images and struggle to edit them down than having just the right amount. It becomes a challenge, and by it being a challenge I am in a way saying I am proud of my work. Not in a bragging sense. I don't think I will ever be good enough to publicly boast my images. But proud that I captured that moment, that I feel like my images have all the basic qualities that make a good image. That maybe it will be something that someone will want to see.
I might just really like my images because I loved Prague. We had perfect weather the entire time. There were never too many tourist crowding around invading my personal bubble. So I let my trigger finger loose and took enough photos that no one else ever has to visit the city. I can give you a photographic tour of the city.
Well it took nearly 4 edits to break down the images to only the best and from there I want to show them all off. But alas I will restrict myself even further for this blog post. Under each image will be my random commentary about why I took the image, history facts, and general thoughts on Prague. Feedback would be wonderful, having other eyes help me narrow down my work even further is always welcomed.
But first, a general overview of Prague to get everyone on the same page. Prague sits at bend in the river in the very heart of the Czech Republic. It's about a 4.5 hour drive from Munich. Originally a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, there are many similarities to old germanic cities like Vienna. Then the land was held by the Russians after the World Wars creating the Soviet bubble that preserved the historic architecture of Old Town. The Czech Republic only recently gained independence (at the fall of the Soviet Union, 1993). They joined the European Union in 2004 but do not use the Euro, however, the Euro is widely accepted everywhere in the city at a distorted exchange rate. Overall, the Czech Koruna is only worth about 0.036 Euros or 4 American cents. This totally threw me off the first night when a dinner for two was almost 900 Korunas (about $38). The language was impossible for me. Nothing sounded like it was spelt and nothing was consistent. The street car said "Next stop" about four different ways. So Czech is off the table for me to learn anytime soon. Luckily, English is a common thread amongst all tourist hotspots, so we got by well enough.
The Astronomical clock tower was one of the first things we saw our first night in Prague. Our hotel was right in Old Town Square and once we were all settled we walked out just in time to hear the clock chime the hour. The actual hour song and dance wasn't the most impressive one I have ever seen. What makes this clock so wonderful is the fact that it has remained virtually untouched since the Middle Ages. The mechanics are all the same with minor restorations. The mix between science and religion was also quite interesting to me. At the top of the hour the 12 apostles all lean out the window, followed by the roster crowing, a sign that all that you wish for will be given to you. The clock face shows four ways of telling time, Central European (how we tell time today), Babylonian, Old Bohemian, and Star Time.
We went up the clock tower for our first of many panoramic views of Prague. There were at least four other occasions in which we were able to look out over all of Old Town.
Prague has become purely a tourist city, meaning they cater to the masses in all aspects. And it is easy to get caught up and think this is the only side of the city left. There were tons of Beer and Abstinence museums. Souvenir shops were one in the same and there were four on every corner. Street artist and hustlers flocked Old Town Square at all hours of the day. Not to say that these are all bad things, I just prefer the authentic traditional side of culture. But street performers are always great to photograph.
Statues get ready for the day by ensuring they have a fresh coat of shine and a quick cigarette.
"I can also sing the traditional Opera, you like to hear?"
The street cars were a little frustrating for me. There was never a clear map showing exactly where the stop was. What I needed was a street map with the tram stops map on top. After a few mistakes and heading a little too far in the wrong direction twice, I figured it out. Grandma was always a good sport about it. She couldn't figure it out any better than I could. My problem is I hate asking for directions. I can stop people and ask them their name and information for photographs but I refuse to ask for help to get somewhere. So when Grandma would suggest we ask someone for help I of course refused, usually just to make things worse. But doesn't it feel better to find what you are looking for by yourself?
Grandma in the Petrin funicular.
The easiest way to get to the top of Petrin hill is by using the funicular. Now every tourist I ran into in line and every tour guide book I read made it sound like the funicular was this totally unique thing. Here I am thinking well it must be like the Pittsburgh Incline, it's not really that big a deal. But I was so wrong. The funicular was at a much greater incline and covered a far greater distance, while making a stop midway as well. It was impressive and a little frightening looking down.
At the top of funicular is the Petrin tower, modeled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but on a much smaller scale. There is an elevator available for the sick and elderly. They had the door opened so I thought this was going to be an easy ride up. But I didn't realize it was for the woman with a boot behind me. I was fully prepared to walk up before but after seeing that an elevator was possible and then being denied had me a little heartbroken. Regardless, I climbed all 299 steps without managing to loose my breath.
What was breath taking, however, was the views from the top of the tower. Without and smog, clouds or bad weather, I was able to see all of Prague and beyond. Above is the Charles bridge, on of the most famous of the hundred+ bridges of Prague. Below is where the Vltava river curves to create the point of Old Town.
The views throughout Prague were entirely stunning. That is it for this blog post. There will be a Prague part two blog post tomorrow, featuring Art, Architecture and Religion. Let me know what you all think!
Sunset on Zatecka street.
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Wow. The red roofs really pop in these pictures. Love them all
I am psyched that you chose to record your trip in this manner, for us all to read. I think you have done a great job, and the photographs are stunning!
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