This post is part of the ‘Go with Oh’ series. I choose to use their writing prompts to kick off this blog because their goal is so in line with my own constant travel mission: to experience local life at a grass-roots level. As I sift through past experiences in some of Europe’s greatest cities to put together my own European bucket list, I’m uncovering much about I’ve changed as a traveller and a person over the years.
When you enter a country where you don’t understand the language, things seem more foreign than going to Britain or Australia, where you’re more likely to expect similarities and be jarred by the differences.
I’m actually a bit ashamed to admit, but I rarely ever travel to countries where I don’t speak the language. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly get around on the bits and pieces of 12 or 14 languages bubbling around in my head. But there is an aspect of having no sense whatsoever of what the people around you are saying or intending that really frightens me.
Despite its beauty and my deep historical interest in the empire that created such an elegant capital, Prague is a city that has eluded me through many trips to Europe precisely because of its extreme linguistic foreignness. I know several people who have lived there happily without understanding passing conversations on the street, which is encouraging. I hope to make the trip someday and experience these five things when I do:
1. Walk across the Charles Bridge at Sunrise
I feel like whenever I see pictures of Prague, they are of this bridge and they are always enchanting. The ones just before sunrise have a look like the final scenes of the movie Anastasia, when Rasputin is trying to slay the heroine. Creepy to say the least. But when the sun comes up, everything looks majestic.
2. Get Invited to a Local’s Chaty
Somehow that headline sounds a bit dirty, but I don’t know how else to phrase it! Chatys are dwellings somewhere between a shack and an estate, depending on the person, that the city dwellers retreat to outside the city. Apparently everyone has one, and I bet that is where you really get a feel for Czech home life.
3. Tour the Artbank Museum of Young Art
I have very mixed feelings about a lot of modern art, but from what I’ve seen of the Artbank, it looks meaningful and fascination. Take the sculptures of four handguns, all as tall as a person, pointed at the gun across the way perfectly symmetrically. It looks cool, modern, and edgy and offers a world of possible interpretations, but not like a Rorschach test. The pieces are accessible to interpretation even from people who don’t know about art or the influences of the artist.
4. Visit a Czech Christmas Market
Christmas markets are sort of an obsession of mine. The warmth radiating off bratwurst turning on spits and pots of gluwein coupled with enough lanterns to light Buckingham Palace can’t help but warm you up on a frigid night in Northern European winter. I didn’t even realize they had Christmas markets in Prague until recently, but now I’m completely intrigued. How is it different from the German Markets?
5. Dance at the Prague Dancing House
It seems that every city these days (even mundane places like Minneapolis, Minnesota) has a Frank Gehry-esque or actual Frank Gehry building these days. In Prague, the photogenic mass of glass and steel is known colloquially as the Prague Dancing House because two intertwining buildings look like dancers. People don’t actually dance in it, but I think they should. Whenever I make it to Prague, I want to shoot a tango video with the Dancing Building as the backdrop.
‘Go with Oh’ is offering one lucky blogger 4 weeks of free apartment rentals in 4 of their 10 European locations, but you don’t have to be a blogger to cash in on their generocity.