Showing posts from June, 2012

Transportation woes

I tutor in various parts of Prague, and have developed a basic knowledge of the Metro and trams that serve the city (I'm not an expert like Stephanie, but I usually manage). But I am discovering that the transportation system has its quirks, and that summertime brings out the quirks in a big way.

For example, every week I go to Prague 6 to tutor two young Korean girls. I live in Prague 2, on the other side of the river. There are two basic ways to get to the girls' home: Tram 22, switch to Tram 20, or Metro A to Device and Tram 20 or 26 to their stop. However, they are extending Metro A and are diggin up the tram tracks, so one day, when I was on Tram 20, it suddenly went to Podbaba instead of Sidliste Cerveny Vrch. How did I know this was happening? An unintelligible voice came over the loudspeaker, saying in rapid Czech, "XX..???&&&Podbaba...$$$//" From this, I guessed that they were changing something, as Tram 20 does NOT go to Podbaba. Ever. So I ask…

Just under the surface

Prague is an old city, even by European standards. The Celts (those ubiquitous European nomads--you can't travel around Europe without tripping over a Celtic settelement) inhabited the Vltava River valley many centuries ago. Slavs wandered in from the East in the 6th century, were overrun by Germanic tribes, and so can get a good overview of these times on Wikipedia, which is not very reliable, but in this case, that doesn't matter, as all this is prehistory anyway! Prehistory means it wasn't written down, so it's an educated guess based on artifacts and logical deductions to fill the hstorical gaps.

Prague as a "modern" city started life about 11 centuries ago as a fortified settlement high on a bluff overlooking the Vltava River, a Central European trade route. There was first a wooden palisade surrounding wooden buildings--sort of a "wild West" on the Vltava. It all burned down, as wooden bulidings are wont to do when you heat with open…

Prague through the year, told by trees

Prague has a personality for every season. One way to trace the change of seasons is through the trees. Autumn is gorgeous, with crisp, dry air and flaming leaves.

Winter is grey, gloomy and wet--misty rain and clouds, with occasional snow. The BBC weather services calls this "white sky." On rare days, the sky is blue with some wispy white clouds. It's definitely stay-indoors weather.

Spring is like spring everywhere-- volatile, flirtatious and extreme. It's hard to know how to dress for the day, but an umbrella is always good.

Summer, though, is something else. The city gets mellow, revealing its true character of a collection of villages surrounding the King's palaces. You only have to look around to see that medieval Prague still lives, just under the metropolitan surface.
In summer, people throw off their clothes (sometimes literally), dance, sing and make merry into the night. Czechs love "the nature" and get out of town on any excuse, to climb ro…