Monday, December 28, 2020

Prague Without Tourists

It’s fun to know folks from around the world and receive their Holiday Greetings. One person 

wrote from Siberia, Russia where it was -43 degrees! Celsius!! Another from Australia, where the summer sun was shining and she went to the beach. Still another from Prague, where she wrote about being sheltered in a Prague without tourists. Unimaginable!


I loved my three visits to Prague and each time, joined the throngs of tourists that made me wonder if it was the most-touristed city in the world. It’s not, but per square mile, it certainly feels like one of the densest tourist-to-inhabitant ratios, some streets so tightly packed it feels like Black Friday at Walmart. So to see the empty streets and squares in her photos was quite astounding. And must be even more so for the folks who live there. As she said, “It feels like a ghost town.”


I wonder if the buildings are feeling lonely—“Hey, nobody’s looked at me in days!” I know the street musicians are devastated and the artists with their wares on the bridge and the shops so eerily silent minus the buzz of folks looking for the souvenirs to take home. I wonder if the inhabitants pass each other by and think, “Oh, it’s you again. I need to see some fresh faces!” At the beginning of the pandemic, someone rode in a car through the old city of Salzburg (another favorite tourist destination) with the camera on and went on for some ten minutes without spotting a single human being—Salzburgian or tourist—on the street. That  was eerie. I know those streets so well and had never seen them without the hustle and bustle. 


At the same time that cities are patiently waiting for their tourist industry to kick up again, I wonder if anyone is feeling like, “Yes, we want them back, but maybe not quite so many as before.” After a year plus of caution, I suspect that indeed the return to tourism will be more a slow and steady trickle than an avalanche of people who are starved for vacation travel. Who knows?


Meanwhile, if you want to beat the crowds, now’s the time to go to Prague!


PS Interesting to get the Prague news the day after I reposted my new words to Good King Wenceslas! Wenceslas was a 10thcentury Czech Christian who was a Duke but posthumously awarded the title of King. As once person described him: 


Rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God's churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.


If you do make it to Prague, check out his statue in Wenceslas Square. 



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