Visitors Reach Prague
And indeed, it is Italian season again. They were here last March in droves and now they're back. Massive bands of roving Italians. Most of the groups are young, but not all. On Thursday morning I thought I would never get to the archive because so many of them were coming down the steps from Strahov. On Thursday afternoon, likewise, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get through them to enter the Klementinum and use the library. There must have been at least a hundred in each of these flocks.
Mind you, I have nothing against Italians, but I really don't understand why they all come to Prague at the same time and in such big groups, somewhat like migrating birds. It being spring, we have an increase in tourists in general, but the Americans, British, Germans, and French are visible in smaller clumps. Even the Japanese are never seen in groups of more than about thirty at a time (not to mention that, as there are many Japanese students studying here, one mostly sees them in twos and threes).
Anyhow, my colleague Annie, her new husband Max, and some friends made the trip down from Berlin. I was glad to see Annie and glad to find that I also enjoyed everyone else. Since Annie and Max's friends have a teething baby, we didn't do anything very strenuous. They all started at the Castle while I worked at the library, then we met up for a late lunch. Following lunch, the baby contingent went back to the hotel for a nap and the rest of us went to the Expressionist show and then for coffee. I was impressed how many Czech artists Annie actually recognized from our seminar on art and nationalism (it was several years ago), but of course she does have a pretty good memory for that kind of thing, being an art historian.
Since lunch had been late and large, we didn't want much for dinner. And the brilliant thought occurred to me that in that case we could probably afford snacks at the Obecní dům kávarna. The Obecní dům is wonderful, but as a rule I only get coffee or a glass of wine.
Well, by the time we had ordered two cheese platters, a salmon platter, olives, and drinks, this was a bit on the more expensive side, but we agreed it was worth it. My guests were thoroughly enchanted by the gorgeous art nouveau interior of the café and by the live jazz, and the staff (seeing we had a baby along) treated us royally.
I might add (for those of my American friends who think the Czechs are cold and unfriendly) that my visitors enthused about how friendly and helpful the Czechs are, at least in comparison to the inhabitants of Berlin. (Well, the German inhabitants of Berlin. The Turkish inhabitants got a very positive review.) While it's my experience that the inhabitants of Prague are as or more friendly than city-dwellers anywhere else I've been, I do think that the sure way to win over the Czechs is to carry a baby. Knowing a little Polish, as Annie and Max do, doesn't hurt either, but the Czechs are very helpful to anyone with a small child.
Interior photo by Will Perrett, not sure whose the exterior is.