It’s been a few days now since arriving in Prague and mostly it’s been a marvelous opportunity to walk throughout the city. It must be one of the world’s greatest walking cities, and no place other than Venice has a more beautiful urban, medieval landscape. Maybe Amsterdam comes close.
The Old Town has become petrified: Stones, monuments, and one luxury shop after the next on the ground floors of Jugendstil apartment buildings. The famous synagogues and the graveyard have become the museums that the Germans had intended during the war.
The New Town has an array of long walking streets and a square rising up a hill to a museum. Side streets have hotels and ordinary shops.
Where I’m staying, Mala Strana, cobblestones and three or four story buildings give a small town feel of proximity to other passersby: You have to look people in the face.
In terms of food, since you asked, Cotto Crudo was first rate Italian with a Czech flair in terms of ingredients and presentation. Then last night at Lokal: Why aren’t more places like this? A wonderful beer hall that offered cask Pilsner and sausages and pork schnitzel and freshly grated horseradish.
It’s a city with great physicality, and yet, as Kafka noted: “Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.” Not meant as praise, but rather testimony to a sense of being suffocated or even terrorized by a past embodied in a city.