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photos by Lara Shipley

Oy, what a lot of

March 26th, 2002 · No Comments

Oy, what a lot of updating to do… Well; I suppose the main thing I’ve learned so far is that, although Campers are generally fabulous shoes, if your itinerary involves walking the cobbled streets of Europe’s major cities for hours each day, then dancing all night… buy a pair of trainers. Especially if you’re gonna do this for several days in a row.

Anyway, Prague. I spent most of the first day there just wandering about, getting to know the city. It radiates age; occasionally Radovan would refer to some structure as having been renovated “quite recently.” Meaning, usually, in the 19th century. He even explained how Prague had started as the locus of a pair of battling tribal clans on opposite hills. Thursday night, I headed out to a place called Roxy, significantly better (by my taste) than its NYC counterpart. A public service announcement for the people of Prague, though: wearing sunglasses at night in a dimly lit club does not make you look cool. It makes you look like a witless poseur who’s listened to a few too many 80s tunes. Unless, of course, you happen to be gorgeous.

The scene was OK, though I kept trying to figure out a hard-to-place difference in the vibe between Prague and Barcelona or (to a lesser extent) Madrid. I finally decided it was a difference in friendliness. In Barcelona, at least at Moog, perfectly heterosexual males would pal around and dance with you. Here, I got the impression that the men saw you as competition, while the women were either hoping or dreading that you’d try to take them home. Not so far off from New York, come to think of it.

Friday, Radovan brought me out to an ancient (even for here) fortress, explaining both its history and, from the high vantage point over the city it provided, that of Prague’s Velvet Revolution. At first, when he said things like “that is where we marched, and there where the police clubbed us, provoking outrage” — I assumed he was speaking figuratively. “We” meaning “Czech dissidents” or “the people.” Then I did the math and realized he would have been about 16 in 89… and indeed, it turned out that he had been a student organizer at his high school. I was blown away. Overthrowing tyrranical regimes is capital-H History; not the sort of thing I imagine people I think of as my peers as participating in. I told Radovan this, and he smiled. “What history? Doesn’t that sort of thing happen every few years somewhere? Isn’t another one due any minute now?” As if on cue, there was an uproar in the next street… but it was only some drunk Spanish tourists. Due indeed. Long overdue.

Bleh, enough for now. More on Prague, and the skinny on Paris tomorrow from Madrid, where I can hook up my own laptop instead of pecking at these crackmonkey foreign keyboards with the keys all rearranged. (You’ve heard of the QWERTY keyboard? I’m on the AZERTY keyboard.) Till then, hasta!

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