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If you're like me, you enjoy not only traveling but also reading about the places you'd like to visit (either before, during or after your trip), and in some cases when you don't even visit at all!. So, as the Holiday Season approaches, I've put together a list of some great reads on Prague for the traveler on your Christmas or Hanukkah list!
Of course, travel between Europe and America is possible now and has been for some time, and I did have a few tour clients in 2021, which was great. But there have been and still are many restrictions on travel, be they Covid test requirements or multitudes of forms to fill out, not just for your destination, but for transit countries as well.
There are many fascinating facts about Prague, so it’s hard to select just ten. But here is an attempt at capturing some of the most interesting ones and hopefully a few that you didn’t know:
While rollouts of vaccinations against COVID 19 have been happening in many countries to varying degrees since the beginning of this year, it looks as though things have really turned a corner at least in the U.S. when it comes to having well over a majority of its population vaccinated in time for summer.
Other nations, for various reasons, have not had as much success, and that has included the Czech Republic. However, just this week we here are starting to turn a corner, too, when it comes to vaccines. Just today the New York Times published an article titled “E.U. Set to Let Vaccinated U.S. Tourists Visit This Summer.”
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that this summer I spent a lot more time traveling than I usually do. As a tour guide, my summers are usually spent working – a lot – so the tourist season is normally not that for me! Sadly, due to the Coronavirus, my tour business was virtually nonexistent this year, so I decided to hit the road. But the pandemic also made travel outside of one’s country a bit difficult or impossible – so I did something I hadn’t done since I first moved to Prague: I traveled around the Czech Republic.
I mentioned in my last blog post that I’ve been using my free time - resulting from (sadly) the lack of tourists - to travel around the Czech Republic. My first stop was Hluboka Chateau, next was the fairy tale-like town of Český Krumlov.
Český Krumlov is one of my favorite places – not just in the Czech Republic, but in the world. In fact, though it had been more than a decade since my last visit, I realized that this was my 11th visit to the town, and with the exception of one business trip, all were for pleasure. It’s a great weekend escape from Prague.
Located in Southern Bohemia near the Austrian border, you’ll notice an Austrian feel in Český Krumlov (Krumlau in German). With a castle that sits atop a bluff overlooking a hairpin turn in the Vltava river, sloping medieval rooftops and a Rumpelstiltskin tower, this medieval town is dripping with charm. And the views from the castle are simply stunning. No matter where you’re perched on it, each view offers a picture-perfect photo op – or plein air site for the artists among you.
Prague is almost synonymous with music. Next month, the internationally-renowned Prague Spring International Music Festival will begin, with classical concerts of all kinds being performed by soloists and orchestras from across the globe. Music fans from all over the globe will also descend on Prague, as the city takes on a festive spring atmosphere.
Prague Proms is another great musical event. This year, Branford Marsalis, the famous jazz musician, will perform a classical repertoire. The Czechs love jazz, too, even though it was forced underground - both literally and figuratively - during the communist years. Today, Prague's jazz cellars still remain, but many musicians have come out into the light, too, performing regularly on the Charles Bridge and on Old Town Square.
One of the most famous films about music, "Amadeus," was filmed here in the gray communist days. And the subject of the film, the composer Mozart, spent much time in Prague. In fact, the world premier of his opera, "Don Giovanni" took place here in the Estates Theater in 1787. Originally a private theater, this intimate space served as the Vienna Opera in "Amadeus." Mozart himself conducted the house orchestra at the Estates at his "Don Giovanni" premier, and in the same year, he played the organ at St. Nicholas Church in Mala Strana.
The Czech Republic has also produced many famous composers, such as Antonin Dvorak and Bedrich Smetana. The Dvorak and Smetana museums in Prague, respectively, are worth visiting. The Czech Philharmonic Opera, currently conducted by Jiri Belohlavek, is top quality.
In addition to great composers and performers, you can still find shops around town where old masters craft violins and other instruments by hand, though these are sadly fading away.
So, if you are a music lover, you will love Prague. And even if you can't be here during one of the big music festivals, there are concerts daily at many churches, libraries and other smaller venues around town. We offer Concierge Services to help you find great concerts and buy tickets. If you're coming to Prague and want to treat your ears, contact Exclusive Prague Tours and we can surely find something special for you to enjo
Welcome to “The Prague Blog.” In its pages I’d like to introduce you to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Though of course I might be biased, if you’ve ever visited Prague, you’ll know that my opinion is not completely without some (or a lot of) objective basis and merit. And if you’ve not yet been to Prague, I hope you’ll have the chance to visit one day and be struck by the city’s beauty, as I was the first time I visited here more than two decades ago.
Prague’s attraction doesn’t stem solely from its beauty. It has a mystery that can be felt as you wander through its winding medieval streets. And the rich history of Prague is another thing that surprises many first-time visitors. From the Old Town to the Malá Strana to the Jewish Quarter, history seems to leap from every cobblestone you tread upon.
I’m an American who has lived and worked in Prague for more than two decades. Prague’s pull on me was so strong that after my first stay for a holiday in the summer of 1990, the first summer after the Berlin Wall fell, I vowed to return – to live. And I did. It took some time and some doing, but I moved here in 1992 and never left (except for a few years in the late 1990s when I relocated to Washington, DC, during my tenure at the World Bank). I have lived, loved and experienced Prague on many levels and in its many aspects. I’ve walked her streets over and over, never tiring of seeing the same gorgeous Baroque palace multiple times or marveling at the views as I cross the 700-year-old Gothic Charles Bridge for the umpteenth time. I’ve studied Prague’s history, met her people and heard their stories and their music.
I am an American who has been living in Prague for two decades. After a long career in international finance, I left the business world to pursue other interests. I now work as a writer, mentor and guide to the city.