No, my title is not infringing on the Paris Hilton trademarked phrase. I don’t mean that Prague is “hot,” as in trendy or hip. I mean it’s literally very hot here right now. The heat somehow combines humidity with a piercing quality that I’ve never experienced before.
As some of you may or may not know, I’m in the Czech Republic for two weeks, on a writing program called, helpfully, “The Prague Summer Program.” I’m living in one of the dorms of Charles University, also home to several other summer programs. This meant that when I arrived and announced cheerfully at reception that I was with “The Prague Summer Program” the nice man at reception asked me, “Which one?” There were a few nasty moments when it seemed like the guy had no idea how to help me, since — as I’m a late arrival — everyone else was already checked in, and the guy had no idea where my key, info, etc. was. However, with a little poking around, he soon discovered a big envelope with my name on it in all caps, and everything was well.
I’m never sure of the best way to write about traveling. Do I talk at length about cultural and historical stuff? (Potentially dull). Do I talk at length about the mundane details of my everyday travel life? (Potentially very dull). Do I wax witty about cultural differences? (Not sure I have the savvy or the distance to do that right now). Do I talk about the writing program itself? (Potential lawsuits).
So I thought, a la my title, about writing the whole blog post in the voice of Paris Hilton:
“Hey guys! So I’m in Prague. Prague is a lot like Disneyland. There are lots of pretty buildings, like Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland, and streets with cobbly stuff (kind of bitch to walk on in heels, to tell you the truth), and lots of places to buy sweaters and cameras and stuff. Plus, when you arrive, you trade your real money for fake money that is all sorts of weird colors and you use your fake money to buy stuff. Except like one real dollar is worth like twenty fake Prague dollars! So it makes everything seem really expensive, like no way I’m paying 200 dollars for a weird looking sausage! But then you remember that it’s all just for fun.”
But then I realized that would be really obnoxious.
Prague is really beautiful. I mean, stupidly so. It’s quite ridiculous. You wander around going, “Really? Really?” Of course, my first observation, as a mostly-American, is how OLD everything is, because we live in a place where it’s like “Observe the tract housing on your left from 1978!” I’ve traveled the most in the UK, and there it’s more like “So, we built a building here like a really long time ago, like, in the middle ages? But then it burned down. So we built another one. And then it burned down. And then….well, then there was WWII, and it got bombed. So THIS building has only been here since 1958, but there has BEEN a building here for a long time WE SWEAR!” And in Scotland, it’s more like, “Well, there WAS a castle here in the middle ages. But….then the English tried to invade…so we blew it up (bloody English). And then we rebuilt it, and the English tried to invade again, so we….kind of blew it up again (couldn’t let the bloody English get it, right?). And then we rebuilt it, and then the English invaded, and THEY blew it up….and well, this castle has actually only been here since 1860 and was never REALLY used as a castle….but, you get the general idea.”
Not that there aren’t beautiful old buildings all over England, Scotland, and all the rest of Western Europe. But Prague’s like “Oh yeah? You’re so proud of your ONE medieval church, eh? You’re got a few Baroque buildings, huh? Yeah, that’s sweet, really. No, it’s nice. Well, pretty much every building here is like medieval or baroque. And there are castles….yeah, we know. And churches! Hoo, boy. Have we got those. Yeah….pretty much every building here is lovely and, like, really old. I know! Weird, huh, since you guys like blew up most of yours? And especially impressive considering our tumultous history?”
Apparently, I can only blog in imaginary voices. In my defense, I’m still a little jet-lagged, and writing in a computer lab where I keep having to turn the keyboard back to English, so I don’t suddenly start typing ěščřžýěšč
That’s the other thing, something I’m mildly embarassed by. My guidebook helpfully informed me that “Czech is pronounced exactly as its spelled! It’s easy!” But off the top of your head, do YOU know how to pronounce, say, První nádvř? Yeah. Even after I laboriously learn how to pronounce something, it promptly departs my head, leading me to say things like, “You get off at the metro station — you know, the one with all the d’s and j’s in it?” Even worse, most people here speak a little English, which, while massively helpful, makes me feel lazy and quite stupid. Not to mention guilty. Though, as a corpse in a George Saunders story says, “English is the lingua franca of the globe.”
Sorry for the rambling. I’ll aim for something more informative next time. Also, you all should email me and stuff.