Like Dresden, Prague has a Disneyland-ish quality to it. We think of the SoCal American counterpart as fantastical, whimsical, and totally pedestrianized, and this city seems to match those descriptions. Like Disneyland, it also has hoards of tourists. For this city’s economy, tourists are no plague for Prague.
The buildings are impeccably maintained as are the streets (at least in the old town–I haven’t seen the real world by daylight anywhere yet!). It’s best to succumb to the lovely lures of the inner city and not overly scrutinize what may be beyond just yet.
Photos, from top left, counter-clockwise:
1. Tattooed Building
2. Baroque Beauty
3. Another Baroque Beauty outside hotel
4. Town Hall and Astronomical Clock in city center
5. Stone Relief on side of building
6. Effigy decorates confluence of crooked streets; impressions of Prague in 3GS: gruesome, gnarly, and Gothic.
As for Prague being a musical city, it definitely is well endowed, with a twist. Tourists must run the gauntlet of mass advertising for concerts and performances held at virtually every available venue. Catholic and Protestant churches competed in the past for parishioners and compete today for music patronage. Like canned tours, it is impossible to avoid the bombardment of flyers and hawkers (not for sex, but…music???). I felt a bit sorry for those disinterested in music, like the feeling you get when you’re not a sports fan and everyone around you is a fanatic. What’s all the fuss about?!? It’s a different world.
Fortunately for us, I was a bit unprepared and the readily at-hand research saved my ogling-going on Google. Instead, we physically stumbled into an ideal performance at the Municipal Hall. Dvorak’s New World Symphony will be performed with 60 local musicians of the Czech orchestra for around 40 euros each. (Quantity, not quality matters here) It’s also easy to compare choices when ads are at every street corner.
We are about to go to a Prague State Opera performance of “Nabucco” tonight. Keep your fingers crossed. Although I bought tickets online, I wonder how many tourists got coerced into going to something at the last minute that they really didn’t want to see. As for performances in Dresden and Leipzig, they haven’t capitalized on music or pandered to tourists to the extent done here (unless I missed something before). Maybe by choice, or less desperation. Stay tuned….
Update: the Prague Opera did not disappoint…in fact, it fully redeemed my faith in coming here. The performers were stellar, the staging straightforward, and the kudos were appropriate to the performance (not overinflated as they are in the U.S. with standing ovations the norm rather than the exception).
*I couldn’t help but add a panoramic of the interior of the beautiful opera house here. The acoustics were the best of any house I have visited. It’s small, intimate, and perfectly balanced. Maybe it was sitting in dead center of the parterre that did it, but for $55 for best seats in the house it beats the Met hands down on acoustical quality and value.