99 words about Prague, Ms Girlova style

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charles bridge postcard

charles bridge postcard reverse

 

Cobblestones.  Clocks on every lamppost. Trams.  Thick snow or strong sunshine. The Castle is really a cathedral. Spires. Gruff-faced folk demand the right change. Ankle-snapping dogs – never on a lead. Crazy coloured panelaks the size of Lego bricks. Endless escalator rides underground. The Vltava (sounds like vulva). General Žižka sits astride his horse surveying Bohemia with one good eye. Soot-covered saints on Charles Bridge. Segways. Smoky pubs. A tea room in the sky. Secondhand shops full of English fashions. A giant red metronome swings where Stalin once stood. The devil’s in the detail – but so is the delight.

Those were my ninety nine words about Prague.

They were inspired by the regular column in Czech national newspaper, Hospodářské Noviny.

Ever since I wrote my first blog post featuring a man being surprised by a sausage, I’ve made it my mission to see Prague from a sideways perspective.

However, writing about this super famous tourist hotspot of a city means negotiating a cliché ridden minefield.

How to describe the Golden City without gilding the lily?

Now you’ve read my attempt at capturing Czechland’s capital in just ninety-nine words, I’d like to read yours. Leave your own verbal picture postcard in the comments section: entries in English or Czech most welcome. I might even rustle up a special prize for my favourite.

prague castle postcard

 

 

 

21 Comments

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21 Responses to 99 words about Prague, Ms Girlova style

  1. Sophy

    Precisely! your 99 words make me miss Prague.

  2. Sean

    Prosek
    Smoky pubs and wine bars here and there, panel houses everywhere. A large park with playgrounds, joggers, skateboarders and sunbathers. A traffic playground for kids, all around unkempt sidewalks and grassy patches called lawns or a flower bed that has seen better days. A permanent post office that looks like a provisional building left as a memento from the 1970s, surrounded by other barns cum banks and shops. Two ladies arguing in a shop and the xenophobic comment of a passing pensioner that all foreigners steal. At night, drug dealers and unwelcoming looks as you rush to your ‘home’.

    Prague
    Awkwardly walking on uneven pavements. Crowds of tourists as you rush from place to place. Learning and ignorance cheek by jowl. Beautiful buildings ravaged by time. Ugly new buildings striving for air. Bureaucracy for its own sake. Officiousness and offence. Constant conversations about absurdities. Kafka unbound. Havel unfound. Passive aggression made an art. Complaints about almost anything as long as you do not actually engage in resolving it. Problems flushed in the pub with beer. Late nights, long talks. Concerts and art openings and meetings with friends. Black humour or gallows humour? Apathy reigns, resignation to an uncertain fate.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Sean,

      Two for the price of one – love it! Those old ladies have never heard of political correctness have they? Really like the ‘Kafka unbound. Havel unfound’ bit – you’re a poet (and you didn’t know it)!

      Keep ’em coming people!

      GIC

    • Miles

      Don’t blame the pensioner: he probably got to see stealing German invaders in the 1940s, then stealing Russian invaders in 1968, and he encountered countless stealing Slovakian and Romanian gypsies (especially at Prosek, which used to be infamous for being a last stop for “unadaptive” people – a less civilized analogue of British council estates). Now the old man has to buy his food at a stealing Vietnamese guy’s convenience store, because some stealing Americans or Arabs or Israelis “privatized” the only local grocery shop and turned it into a casino or a wine bar. Don’t blame him for his bitterness… he surely didn’t ask for anybody to come to his country and mess with his ways of life.

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Miles,

        I like the way you focus on seeing life in the city through the eyes of just one long time resident. I always do feel a bit sorry for Czech pensioners who see expats (like myself) coming here to live the good life and take advantage of all that capitalist Prague has to offer. It must be galling for some. And those Herna bars – they are a bit of a blight on the Prague landscape, aren’t they?

        GIC

  3. Rob Ward

    Those first few morning words like chewing apples. Gravelled snow piled in darkened clumps. The usual graffiti motifs: ‘antifa’, ‘Smoker, you stink.’ A second floor labourer, laughing, strafes the tourists with his jack hammer. An Italian tour forms an orderly line across a busy street. With a glance the ticket inspector dives the other way: you’re no tourist now. In the centre the usual dieselled pastel pallete, flaked plaster, pock marked tarmac and monochrome stones kicked to the side. Yappless dogs in handbags. Pointless crabbiness makes the kind words count. There are prettier surfaces… and you can keep ’em.

    • girlinczechland

      Hey Rob,

      Love the bit about the ticket inspector – spot on! Not sure what you mean by the first sentence though… Still, great start – keep ’em coming people!

      GIC

      • Rob Ward

        I forget who said it, but they say reading poetry aloud out to feel like chewing apples. I was using that as a way of describing getting your mouth around those Czech consonants first thing in the morning.

  4. Johnathon Finlay

    Rain and wind, sleet and snow, occasional bouts of sunshine though.
    Christmas markets, football hell. Coronation Street as well.
    Lowry, chimneys, BBC. Victoria Wood – As Seen on T.V.
    Smiths, New Order, Roses (Stone), Queer As Folk, the M.E.N.
    Cheeky smiles, lilting drawl. Lincoln’s statue, Northern Soul.
    Giant Santa in Albert Square, trams to nearly everywhere.
    Lancasheer hotpot, barms, pies, grub. Vera Duckworth owns that pub!
    Bread and butter pudding with a chocolate twizzle,
    ‘Any spare change?’ through the pavement drizzle.
    Arndale Centre, scallies on the run, Canal Street hens with nothing on.
    Resting place of the Hitman and Her. Everyone’s favourite Manchester.

    OK I failed. 103 words. But still…

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Ms Girl,

      Really loved this. But yes, you are over the word limit. Feel my red pen in the margin penalising your overall grade!

      GIC

  5. Sarka

    I’m not from Prague. I would capture the city in words only as a tourist. 🙂

    If I lived there I would definitely write something about cafés and black and white small cobblestones on the pavements and Petřín Hill with roses 🙂

  6. Mine is a song I wrote and recorded called “Love and Fog”

    http://www.macjams.com/song/59781

  7. Elke

    Christmas is done and I am feeling happy and uncomfortable and alone. Boys or men feign noisy sleep in a car. Everyone is laughing. Fog lifts. The taxi takes a scenic route. Her name is so long. We invent a language and gibber. This is a dead end. Hot chocolate is cheaper up the hill. A Dutchman moved here for love but Czech is so tricky. Beer is Fanta. Harrison lyrics are on the Lennon wall and it seems a cheat. Elvis stayed here, I thought. I’m not sure all this is what Kafka wanted.

    (Typical tourist overview.)

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Elke,

      Thanks for taking up the 99 word challenge! I enjoyed reading this a lot, especially the last sentence – what would Kafka make of Prague almost 100 years on is certainly an interesting thought to end with.

      GIC

  8. Martina

    Chomutov

    Town made of panelaks in many color versions. A lot of gypsies and asocial. Vietnamese shops with food or clothes at every corner opened from dusk till dawn. Only two branch of library but many pubs. Zoopark with euroasian animals. Alumn lake. Coal mine. High unemployment rate. New multifunkcional center with cinema, aquapark, ice ring, summer stadion which shines like sun in night. Demolishing old building like brewery to build another supermarket. Two shopping mall next to each other – one more successful. New hotel for tourist, which never come. Through forest it is only 17 km to Germany border.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Martina,

      Thanks for writing 99 words about a different (your?) town/city. I’m not sure whether to visit Chomutov or not given your description but it is certainly vivid.

      GIC

      • Martina

        Yes, it is my hometown, because I visit Prague usually once in year, so I dont feel qualified to write something about Prague. I am not sure, if my town is worth visiting, usually people are moving to another cities, but your 99 words about Prague inspired me to write it. 8D Thank you for your reply. 8D MG

  9. Great extended haiku about the city.

  10. Richardinprague

    Flowering cherry trees below Strahov monastery; Divoka Sarka; Dressing up for a concert at the Rudolfinum; Homeless sleepers on the night trams; Too many herna-bars, casinos, night clubs; Looking upwards at the beautiful architecture on Wencelslas square; Looking downwards over the rooftops from the castle; long kisses on the metro escalators; Beautiful but derelict buildings at staromesto; More money than sense on Pariska; Graduation balls at Lucerna; Dancing house – love it or hate it; Co?; Early joggers; skaters at Letna; Concrete statues; Ukoncete prosim – vystup a nastup; Hidden tea-shops; Café louvre ; Flowering shrubs at Stromovka; Girl in Czechland

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Richard,

      Nice to see you joining in with the extended haiku fun! It’s very flattering to see Ms Girlova is an essential part of Prague in your view. I’m looking forward to the cherry trees being in blossom: let’s hope I finally get a kiss under one this coming May 1st!

      GIC

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