A literary window on Prague, at Yahoo! News

This week in my “Traveling Light” column at Yahoo! News, I interview David Farley and Jessie Sholl, who co-edited Travelers’ Tales: Prague. As Czech novelist Ivan Klima writes in the introduction to the book, “I do not like stories about tourist experiences and I refuse to accept generalizations about a place, let alone people. Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded. The essays in this anthology are based mostly on encounters and experiences, sometimes life-changing and sometimes ordinary.”

In the interview, I quiz Farley and Sholl on whether or not Prague has suffered from overpopularity. They reply:

DF: Much like Venice, Prague is so bewildering and bewitching, and therefore it’s no surprise the historical center is swimming with tourists. To some degree, it has suffered — try walking across Charles Bridge on a summer afternoon, and you’ll see what I mean. But on the other hand, I think the people there are happier and that makes a difference with tourists. I’m not hearing as many people complain about the indifferent service there like I used to. In terms of avoiding the crush of tourists in Prague, I like to stroll through the center of town early in the morning when I almost have it to myself. But really, when I’m there, I usually spend a lot of time in the outer neighborhoods, where many young Czechs have retreated. Neighborhoods like Vinohrady and Zizkov, beautiful districts with 19th-century tree-lined streets, have a lot to offer, including great clubs and restaurants and a legion of old school Czech pubs you won’t find in the center anymore.

JS: Some knucklehead dreamed up the “Prague Piss-up” a few years ago; these entail cheap group flights on Ryannair or another European budget airline with accommodation usually included in the — low by Western standards — price. The “roving parties” of mostly British guys get extremely drunk on Prague’s cheap beer and rampage (always loudly, occasionally violently, and sometimes messily and publicly in regard to bodily functions) through the city. It’s a real shame. Some pubs now have signs outside saying “no stag parties.” The same thing is also happening in another favorite city of mine, Krakow, and I wish there was a way to stop it.

Full column online here.

Posted by | Comments Off on A literary window on Prague, at Yahoo! News  | April 19, 2006
Category: Travel News

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