Frequent traveling makes you want to do something different once in a while.
This happened when I visited Prague.
A short visit where I only had 5 hours to discover the city that is famous for its colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock.
NYC in 3D – the multiple dimensions of New York
The fact is, I had no time to prepare this trip. No time to read about all the possibilities that Prague had to offer. No list of places to visit or things to do.
Being that huge Serendipity fan, I decided to let faith guide me. While taking the metro from the outskirts of Prague into the city center I made a decision: today I will focus on people, watch what they’re doing and where they’re going. Follow them and see what happens. Both residents and tourists, no distinction. What would people in Prague teach me about the city?
Have I experienced Prague differently pointing my camera towards people rather than its historical buildings?
Of course I have! I was stunned to see how much the historic center of Prague has turned into one big touristic amusement park. Sorry to say, but when groups of tourists flock from one place to the other, guided by their temporary shepherd carrying an artificial rose on a stick or a flag, when you cannot cross a square without being asked several times whether you want to buy tickets for the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, when you cannot find a single authentic store because all is geared towards tourists, yes, then I call that an amusement park.
Don’t get me wrong, the old city of Prague is stunning! But I don’t want to only gaze at historical and monumental buildings. Watching people (locals and tourists alike) for me creates the same kind of excitement. The movement of people, their behavior, and how you connect to them explains a lot about a city. Is it easy to get a glimpse of daily life? How do locals connect with visitors/tourists? Do these two worlds merge or exist in silos? In Prague I clearly felt some kind of tension. Is the city ready for a further influx of tourists?
Prague city experience
Luckily the movement of people also took me to places that really surprised me! I saw a group of young people and decided to follow them. By accident I found the colorful John Lennon Wall, a place where people seemed to escape from the busy city center and literally felt at peace. Don’t ask about the guy with his bare upper body….he was doing some kind of video shoot 🙂
Or what about finding the Starbucks with the best view of Prague? Or this vegan restaurant with the smallest rooftop terrace ever (find both on pictures below)? Discovering a city without any preparation can be a strange adventure. You walk around fearing you miss all the good things, until you accidentally bump into some kind of hidden gem. That is when the real traveler inside of you pops up, and the tourist is gently pushed away…
Movement Under Ground
After moving above ground I continued my way in the Prague underground. This 40-year old metro is extremely efficient and I just loved the design of the stations. Every stations looks different carrying interesting names like Namesti Republiky, Krizikova, Florenc or Invalidovna. I just had to jump out at various stations and take pictures. Metro lines are actually the veins of a city. The trains that keep residents circulating in the entity they call their city. Understanding a city and its people is great fun and should be done above as well as below ground. You never know what you’ll find.
Serendipity as it is…Prague, what can I say, I love the city and I’m still so newbie even after double digit visits…nice to focus your camera on cameras 😉 Hugs
Thank you! I knew you would love that serendipity take on Prague. 🙂 Hugs back!
Great story and awesome pictures Emiel. Will be following your travels:=)
Thank you Niklas, great to have you onboard 🙂
Wat een leuke en originele benadering Emiel! En zo zie je uiteindelijk meer dan wanneer je als een kip zonder kop de highlights “af was gaan lopen”. Leuke foto’s en ditto blog!
Dank je wel Yvonne, leuk om te horen! Ik weet dat er vaak juist veel gezocht wordt op blogs met een lijstje van de mooiste highlights (of hidden gems). Steeds hoop ik dat ook een andere insteek van reisverhalen gewaardeerd wordt en gelukkig is dat zo! Thanks.
Prague is one of my all-time favorite places, and you could easily spend weeks there uncovering all the little places and historic details, but I love how you decided to focus on just one thing during your time there. I used to do that sometimes but have gotten away from being more focused. I will have to try it again 🙂
I remember your love for Prague Jenna. It can be difficult sometimes to ‘forget’ about the highlights and look for something else…but in Prague I did it where the highlights were actually nothing more than background (although some of the most beautiful ones you can imagine!). I did the same thing years ago, when I visited Milan for just a couple of hours. Here’s the link if you like. Thanks!
Such a clever way to spend so limited time you had in Prague! I’ve never been to the Czech capital, but I guess it’s one of those places which have become heavily touristed but still worth a visit. And that vegan restaurant! Oh my, what a tiny rooftop terrace it looks like! But I believe the view justifies it all.
That rooftop terrace was amazing! Yes, Prague has become heavily touristed and I am not sure if the city is ready for a further influx of tourists. Let’s wait and see. Thanks for your comment Bama!