Prague: the jewel in Europe’s crown

16 Oct


On my way to school this morning looking out of the tram window, I was once again reminded how beautiful autumn is. The trees have just started to change colour to golden orange, yellows and reds among the green. Truly a photographer’s inspiration.
Almost ten years ago this was the sight that greeted me on arriving in Prague. South Africa has it’s beauty too but we don’t have as distinct seasons as Europe. In all the years in Prague, I never eased to be impressed by the change.
Yet I digress. Why Prague? When I finished my CELTA course. A course to enable me to teach English as a foreign language, in SA it was difficult to find a job in western Europe because of not coming from an EU member state. One of my classmates suggested the CR which at that time was still not an EU member. Well needing a job and not having reason not to, I applied for a post in Prague. I was interviewed and accepted. I my made decision straight away without really thinking it through. It was only at the stop over in Zurich did I pause and think: ‘What am I doing?’ Well with a job and contract and half a world away from home,it was too late to go back so two hours later I landed on Czech soil for the first time in my life.
I clearly remember walking through the airport and not being able to read anything. Actually I was not even sure that I could pronounce any of the words. Czech doesn’t have the same respect for vowels as English does :). E.g. ‘zmrzlina’ which means ice-cream has five consonants before a vowel. I was slightly horrified as to how I was going to communicate. Of course I hadn’t thought about the language problem in my excitement to move.
After being collected at the airport I was dropped off at my flat in ‘rural’ Prague, given a few metro tickets and a map and told to turn up at school on the following Monday, four days away.
I was nervous to explore too much in case I got lost and I had arrived with an awful cold. A couple of days later my room mate and future colleague and friend arrived from the States. She had been to Prague a few time before so knew her way around and I followed.
Up until now all I had seen were buildings in my neighbourhood. Tall buildings with loads of apartments, called ‘panelaky’, the shopping centre and the school. This was not my vision of Prague. I could have been in any modern city not a city steeped in history and culture.
My friend decided it was a sacrilege that I hadn’t yet visited the Old Town and yes it was. So that weekend we caught the metro to Old Town square. This was also my first trip on a metro. I have traveled in Europe before but always caught taxis or walked. However, stifling my slight claustrophobia, I went underground to catch my fist metro. I still would rather travel by tram, but am fine in the metro now.
I remember we got off at the station Museum in the center and walked down Vaclavske namesti -Wenchless square. It has beautiful rows of historical buildings on either side dating back to before SA was even discovered by Jan van Riebeeck in the 17th century. The square is a mixture of old architecture and bright neon advertising boards. At night it transforms in a playground of underground clubs and seedier adventures.
We pushed our way through throngs of people down the square to the bottom, followed the road, as it narrowed, bottle necked, to the right, and opened to the one of the most beautiful sights, in my opinion in Prague. Old Town square. As one pushes through the narrow street for the first time, the sight before you is totally unexpected. The Astronomical Clock is the first thing you see, then to right the square opens up surrounded by well maintained buildings, the old town tall, tower and the spires of Tyn Church rising heavenward. The sight only to be rivaled at night with the lights and dark sky.
Later, sitting atop one of the hotels sipping wine (where my profile pic was taken), looking out at the city of 100 spires, it hit me, I was living in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe!

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7 Responses to “Prague: the jewel in Europe’s crown”

  1. Colin Acland October 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    WOW what a fantastic description if i did that it would be about 5 lines hahaha Can see which one of us is the writer

    • annepetzer October 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      thank you Colin and thanks for visiting the blog.

  2. Charlotte Holley October 17, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Nice post, Anne. Makes me want to visit your city!

    • annepetzer October 17, 2011 at 6:32 am #

      Thanks Charlotte, please come. I am a great tour guide :). The next one or two posts will be about Prague as well. A

      • Charlotte Holley October 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

        I’d love to . . . someday when I have the time and the money both at the same time!

  3. Katrin Miller October 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Excellent description – one of my friends calls Prague “stupidly beautiful” and he’s absolutely right. Loved to see that your first day was pretty similar to mine – I remember ending up in that flat in the middle of panelak centre with a metro ticket in the middle of winter and thinking “how am I ever going to make it to next week …”

    • Anne October 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      Probably find all of us at school had the same experience. You arrived in winter ouch. Autumn was bad enough for this African 😛

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