Prague, 20 Years Later.

In May 2009 we returned to Prague.  It is such a beautiful City I wanted to add this photo gallery taken in 2009 with a better digital camera, along with a letter for that week.

May 3, 2009

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague reminds what it’s like to live in a tourist town, except this time I was not a Sitka townie, I was a tourist, one of “them.”

Saturday the Charles Bridge was worse than the worst cruise ship day in Sitka.  People packed bastion to bastion, walking, busking, or trying to sell stuff: all while a group of construction workers made repairs.  To make traffic move more smoothly, I suppose, someone put Jersey strip down the middle of this pedestrian only bridge.  Jersey strip is the concrete abutment with the flanged bottom used to make divided highways.  I have never seen it used to create a duel carriageway pedestrian bridge before.  I think it made the situation worse.

Prague is where this series of letters started.  Suzi and brought the boys to witness the elections here in 1990 and I was so moved by the who sweep of the day I sat down with a yellow legal pad and wrote the first of this series, which went to three people.  I also tucked copies away for the boys to read later.  That night I decided that I had to be part of this whole process of transition and Suzi and I started a discussion that has shaped the last 19 years of our lives.  So for a lot of personal reasons Prague is special for us, and will always be.  So we enjoyed ourselves despite becoming part of the Prague’s golden tourist horde.  We took time to reflect, remember and be together.  It’s the closest I get to doing romantic. We enjoyed glorious spring weather, blossoms and walks along the river and through old streets, taking in the architectural cornucopia that is Prague. In 1990 I wrote that Prague was a quartz geode, a crystal heart surrounded by gray stone.  The suburbs are a little less gray but the crystal heart sparkles all the more.

The memory of that spring in 1990 lives in Prague despite the hardships of the transition.  2009 is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and most of Central Europe is celebrating between May first and November.  There was a concert May 1 commemorating the fall of the wall, playing the songs by the dissident artists that made up the velvet revolution.  It looked very much like the program of a concert we attended in 1990 and which was the climax to Tom Stoppard’s play “Rock and Roll.”  We tried to get tickets but it was sold out.  Good for them.

We missed the concert but there is some great busking in Prague.  We especially enjoyed a jazz band that we watched for two days running in the old town square.  These guys were old enough to remember both the Velvet Revolution, and the Prague Spring a generation before.  It was a pleasure watching them play music that had been banned in their youth, jazz, on a sunny afternoon.

A group of college students have installed a huge piece of street art called Cirkus Totality, presenting a view of history from “those who were not yet born when communism ended.”   One of the artists admitted he was actually 3 during the velvet revolution.  Their take on Cirkus Totality (Totalitarianism), did not come from experience but was as learned from parents or from school.  It is hard to realize that a whole generation has passed since I started writing these letters.

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