20 April, 2006
I have been travelling past few weeks - a weekend trip to a place called St. Ives and then a longer weekend trip to Prague. Here is a picture from Prague. Prague, in some ways, is like a older, cooler version of Paris. The picture here, for instance, has the Presidential palace in the backdrop (I am not sure of the correct name, but it is a palace and the Czech preseident stays in it). The foreground is the Vltava river, which meanders through the city and has to be crossed a few times no matter where one is headed. The ride from the airport into the city is a ride of architectural variations - in period, structure,design,colour. The Airport is a slick building, complete with granite floors and expensive stores. It fades into long facades of Soviet looking flats (you will know when you see them) and then the old city suddenly bursts into view. The old city has spires and churches and grottos and various other constructions which are quite medieval in appearance. I have read quite a few stories about kingdoms and castles and revolts and the true heir laying low before staking a claim by ringing the church bell and if any one was making a movie on any such story, Prague would be a very custom built locale to shoot such a movie. The other thing which struck me in Prague was the way the Czech were promoting their country - "Hope you have a good time in the Czech Republic" came second only to "Give me a Pilsner!" as the most commonly spoken English phrase. (By the way, I had two Pilsner breakfasts but thats another story) Back in India, it is easy to find instances where one laughs at tourists when they are taken for a ride. If they were stupid enough to come to India, then they should also bear the consequences. In Prague, it did not matter if I was shopping, taking a hair cut (1/4th of UK prices, but language issues can lead to unpredictable results), drinking beer, meeting friends of my Czech friend, it was a concern which bordered on an obsession - I won't be surprised if this country which is the size of Haryana earns about the same from tourism as India does.
The next post will be about St. Ives, which in my opinion, is one of the most underrated beaches in Europe (which is again is a good thing)