Driving into the Czech Republic, we stopped in Pilsen for a pilsner.
Then on to Prague, a beautiful city, with stunning architecture and artwork at every turn. The statues were designed to show the power of the Holy Roman Empire (or whoever happened to be on top at the time), and their main theme is violence and misery. Even the Biblical images are pretty dark — no “suffer the little children” stuff here.
Since 1992 the Czechs have made the switch from communism to capitalism, but they still have a few fine points to work out. For instance, the concept of “service with a smile” has not spread to every restaurant. For the most part the waiters are quick and competent, but they take your order as if they’d just as soon punch you in the nose. It’s a little jarring but nothing personal. They glare at each other too.
Prague has definitely got an edge to it. In an afternoon’s walk I noticed a Dali exhibition, a Kafka Museum (he was from here), a Ghost Museum, a Museum of Medieval Instruments of Torture and a Museum of Sex Machines. Tacky souvenir shops and strip clubs stand in the shadows of great cathedrals.
The Czech language has little in common with English, but one word I knew. The Dopyera brothers, inventors of the Dobro guitar, immigrated to the U.S. from Slovakia. In the 1930s Dobro advertising touted, “Dobro Means Good in Any Language.” In Prague I saw the word “dobrou” everywhere, from signs on the street to condiment trays in restaurants.
We had an excellent dinner in a restaurant by the Vltava River near the Charles Bridge, in a building that was once the home of the town hangman. Because of his job carrying out the will of church and state, he wasn’t allowed to vote or take communion.
It wasn’t easy finding the restaurant after Mark called from there, because there were three restaurants with the same name in the same street. The maitre d’ at the first one told us, “No, that’s not here. That’s two other places.”