Having been lazy and following on from Taipei, I thought I would add a post on the travel journal slot for the trip to Prague last autumn. Vienna, Venice and Rome will have to wait a bit. Memories are very peculiar in a way not dissimilar to what Tagore said, something to this effect:
“I do not know who has painted the pictures of my life imprinted on my memory. But whoever he is, he is an artist. He does not take up his brush simply to copy everything that happens; he retains or omits things just as he fancies; he makes many a big thing small and small thing big; he does not hesitate to exchange things in the foreground with things in the background. In short, his task is to paint pictures, not to write history. The flow of events forms our external life, while within us a series of pictures is painted. The two correspond, but are not identical.”
I feel the same way too. What I desire in my memory is not an exact blow by blow, second by second “true” account of what exactly happened. That will be too sterile and unromantic.
The memories of Prague is one of a giant Disneyland. This is perhaps due to the nature of my visit, i.e. we are merely tourists. But that city is one magical place. The buildings silently speak untold stories it witnessed through its turbulent history. I was impressed with how dog friendly that city is, how bicycle friendly, and what a good transportation system it has. All the hallmarks of an advanced and civic conscious city, which took me a bit by surprise. It makes me reflect on my own city and what a substandard job our city management has done comparatively.
The beautiful subway station. Well maintained and clean.
But of course, mentioning Prague will inevitably trigger my admiration first and foremost for Franz Kafka and also, but to a lesser extent, Dvořák and Smetana. Surely, Prague has been the host to many others. Mozart once said that the people of Prague understands him. Einstein found Prague to be a great place conducive for him to immerse himself in thoughts and further crystalize his theories on relativity.
Franz Kafka Museum. Not a big place but the atmosphere inside and the music is unmistakably Kafkaesque!
But no one that ever comes to Prague can miss the vein that runs through this city, the Vltava River. One of my best memories of Prague, besides the morning walk on the Petrin Hill where I have foolishly caught a cold, was to walk by the bank of the Vltava River and listening to Smetana’s MA VLAST (My Country) where the river’s name was featured as one of the six symphonic poems. It is a wonderful piece of music and listening to that piece by the bank of the river, watching the swans swimming in the most carefree manner is one of the high points of the trip.
It is one of those memories what I pray will not fade from my feelings and my mind. And this is one of the reasons to be alive, to be happy, a reason to celebrate life! Memories like this makes life worth living.
By the bank of the Vltava River
A Kafka statue. Guess which story this is from.
There is music everywhere. Truly a city of arts and culture.
Street musicians abound.
We went for a performance of SWAN LAKE which was so-so. On our final night, we had a sublime performance in the Smetana Hall playing Ravel and Gershwin.
Some more pictures of Prague:
Autumn on Petrin Hill
Street artists on the Charles Bridge
Municipal House, home to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
Tram lines. Great transportation system in Prague.
Night scene from the Old Town area.
Prague is a magical city.