Sparkling in Prague
The lonely planet described Prague as the heart of central Europe. It also dedicates 60 pages to the Czech capital whereas a mere 16 pages offer Bratislava’s highlights. It’s famous for its fabulous beers, intricate architecture, and colourful history and seems to really hold something over Slovakia and Czech Republic. I certainly feel that Bratislava lives, lived and probably always will live in its shadow and many locals I’ve mentioned this to haven’t even visited it.
To describe my visit in detail would take too long and city breaks are hard to blog about, which is why Budapest never got a mention. Sorry Budapest, I loved you, but I had too much to say to blog about it. A moment by moment account of where I went and what I did would probably bore the readers who don’t enjoy my essays, so I’ll make this more of a photo blog and strongly advise you visit this fabulous capital one day. But don’t tell the Slovaks.
One of the many things people do in Prague is go to a classical concert. There is an abundance of cathedrals offering you recitals, concerts and operas at various prices, appealing to various types. We were walking down a small street past St Climent’s cathedral, when a man with a clipboard exclaimed “Hello beautiful ladies”. We exchanged looks, smiled and prepared to ignore him as time was precious and we had a long list of ‘to see’s’. “You are English aren’t you, I can tell you are English because you sparkle when you walk down the street”. Ok, so he got us on that one. Who’s not going to listen when you are told you sparkle by a stranger? He went to tell us that we looked like the type of women who loved and appreciated the arts ( of course) and that we would understand and appreciate beautiful music ( yes) and that we would love to see a beautiful chamber orchestra in the cathedral tonight. Well we were intrigued at this point, but I was doing calculations and the displayed prices were not what I wanted to pay. “You are both students aren’t you?” Not wishing to argue we both nodded and the price was cut in half (we’d just gone from 25 Euros to about 12). He went on to explain the fabulous atmosphere that would only be improved If we were to come, because the musicians “will play for you, for your radiant beauty, if you sit in the front row”. Hmm, still not sure we wanted to part with 12 euros, we continued to nod and listen. “But I know that travelling is expensive, “he says, “and Prague is beautiful, but it’s so expensive, so I sell you the tickets for 10 euros”. Hmm, more interested. We get closer to the box office and he is showing us where he will reserve our seats “because we must be near the musicians for them to play for us. I suppose we weren’t showing enough enthusiasm, so he screws up his face and says “But, I know it’s difficult being young so I will make a special deal for you, 8 euros”. Ok, we went away to “get cash”, and talk about the pro and cons, seemed like a good deal, something neither of us could afford in the UK, so why not? And I have certainly never been sold tickets by being told I sparkle. “Yes please” we announced to our friend, handing over 150 crowns each and walking away, not really sure if we’d been had, but figuring it was about the equivalent of two beers so what did we have to lose?
We arrived 30 mins early as instructed and joined a long line of hopefuls outside the cathedral. Another clever marketing ploy of course: create a long line of an expectant audience and you are bound to attract the ones that originally weren’t interested. Wondering if everyone had had special reductions to pull them in I sneaked a peak at the tickets in people’s hands and saw that they were indeed showing the original price of 350 crowns. Pretty impressed, we followed everyone in, smiled at our friend on our way in. We quickly realised that the seats at the front had been promised to everyone and sat confortable somewhere in the middle, knowing that we really had played less than half of everyone else. The concert was a mixture of classics with some local composers: Smetana and Dvorak ( “ these are our famous composers from Prague, who you must listen to”)
I truly believe that you can buy experiences and in turn, some form of happiness, and this was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Wandering around the city after the concert, deeling suitable cultured we stumbled across the Hard Rock Café. Now, not one to pass on the opportunity to eat one of the best burgers available and to have another addition to my collection, we juxtaposed our cultural evening with dinner at the HRC, complete with photos of me next to Chad Smith’s jumpsuit worn at the last RHCP gig I saw! Bonus.
Day 2 was spent wandering around Vysehrad and its gardens, having spent the previous day wandering round the old town, the downtown and Prague castle. Both days were bathed in sunshine, not rain as forecasted and laughter, good food and beer flowed freely to make a wonderful weekend, in an outstanding capital, with a fabulous friend.