The Lennon Wall was one of the few places I chose to sit down for a longer than usual period of time in order to see what experience this frequented tourist attraction could provide me with. First, some background on the wall would be helpful. The wall was first started being tagged in 1988 with grievances from young Czechs who were followers of the “Lennonism” Movement. Since then it has been tagged over and over, erasing old graffiti and creating new art, most of it continuing the Lennon theme but not all. For example, just this past November (2014), a group of art students white-washed the entire wall and then sprayed-painted, in block letters, “THE WALL IS OVER.” Since then, the words were changed to “THE WAR IS OVER” and the wall is completely covered in artwork again. During the ten to fifteen minutes in which I sat by the wall I was able to get an feeling for the flow of tourists that came through that area and saw two American girls spray paint an American flag on the right end of the wall because today was July 4th.
Following the time spent at the Lennon wall, I continued on to find the soccer game that was supposed to be happening at 2 pm according to a Prague pick-up soccer Facebook group. I had to take two different trams to get to the soccer field, and each time, I got off the train a stop too early and had to walk to the next stop. This happened three or four times while I was in Prague. The confusion arose because many of the adjacent stations have the same name except one ends in the Czech word for “square” and one doesn’t. Also keep in mind that it was around 90º Fahrenheit and there was little shade on my walk this day. I ended up getting to the soccer field right before 2 pm, but alas, no one was there. I think not enough people said they were “in” on the Facebook page, but I’m not certain.
The last day I was in Prague (Monday), I went to one of the Islands on the river and played music on my speakers and juggled my soccer ball on my own for about an hour. I think Berlin has a park where people play sports and hang out, so that should be fun.
Journaling has been great. This is the first time in my life where I’ve kept a journal and written in it on a consistent basis. Especially traveling on my own, there’s a lot of time where I’m not being mentally active or stimulated by my computer. It’s during these times that I start thinking about things and I can write them in my journal. What’s just as exciting, if not more, is going back and reading about the things I was worried about or thinking about and reflecting on how those have changed in just a week or two. Having that ability to reflect on internal thoughts of the past is great because it gives you a concrete benchmark to compare yourself to. For example, during the first few days of my travel, I was feeling tired and unmotivated to socialize. I went back and read what I wrote in my journal two weeks later and it made me laugh because I had gotten over the lack of motivation and was having a blast.
Furthermore, the last three nights in Prague, I went out at night with me, myself, and my journal to find a café or bar, in hopes to meet people as well. The first night I talked to two groups of people for a little bit but spent most of my time writing. The next two nights I didn't write in my journal at all and talked to one or two people the entire time. In my mind, I suppose the journal acts as a security blanket, similar to when people go on their smartphone if they’re bored or don’t want to socialize. I haven’t quite figured out how it’s different then going on your phone but I do think it is different.
Did you like my last post on green roofs? Just like I said, I went looking for that apartment complex with the green roofs. Just take a minute to admire the absolute beauty of that image. Gaze in wonder upon the sloping, Babylonic walls of this modern apartment complex. Imagine your children playfully trolling through the contemporary replication of the Tuileries Garden as you enjoy your evening stroll after a fulfilling day at work. Sing in harmony with the flowers, trees, and squirrels as this daydream turns into a full-on musical production. Now wake up and realize you live in the United States where sustainable living is still being understood, while European residents have been living the lifestyle for so long you can see sustainable living progress and modernize their communities. I love seeing all the ways in which Europe is living sustainably. I will make sure to include more about it in future blogs.
Finally, here is my coveted Prague Door Collection. I was fascinated with all the interesting doors and doorways, especially the wooden ones with unique patterns combining wood trim and bolts. See above for my favorite door and below for my compilation.
Final Thoughts on Prague
Like I said in one of my first blog posts about Prague, a majority of the people who I spoke with who had been to Prague said it was one of their favorite cities in Europe. That said, overall, I did like the city. It reminds me of many classic European cities with old architecture, small, back alleys, and larger, main streets.
Many of these old European cities are considered “walking cities.” Read this quote from K.H. Schaeffer and Elliott Sclar’s book published in 1980, Access for All: Transportation and Urban Growth:
“The walking city was mankind’s answer to these transport problems. People collocated to be together for activities they considered important and for which transportation was too slow and too cumbersome. In turn, they planned and arranged their cities around the general principle of avoiding cumbersome internal transportation, both in terms of the necessary number of trips and the length of these trips. Such marks of the modern city as one-way streets, limited-access roads, or land consuming road interchanges would have been an anathema to the city planners of the pre-motorized era. Consciously or unconsciously, the planners and builders of the walking cities searched for circulation patterns that assured access for the most essential functions by traveling the least distance. At first glance, a medieval town with its crooked streets may seem an inefficient design. However, if we look more carefully, the crooked street patterns suggest a circle with radial spokes and circumferential routes.”
Looking at a map of these cities will show you exactly that, a radial layout of all the streets. Compare this to modern cities such as New York and Philadelphia where everything is in a grid layout with one-way streets, ideal for motor vehicles.
I do wish there was more pedestrian access to the river. In Paris, there are steps from the main street that go down to a lower riverside walking paths and areas you can sit down next to the river, which a lot of people do. Obviously, swimming in city rivers does not happen for a few reasons, like higher levels of boat traffic and pollution as well as faster currents. Lastly, the tram service was impeccable. The tram stops were spaced well through out the city and they worked on seven-minute intervals, which is close to a standard amount of time for inner city public transportation. The tickets for the tram were only 24 CZK per 30 minutes, about $1 USD per ride. For comparison, a ride on the New York City Subway costs $2.75.
Kyle’s Travel Tip: Take time to explore off the beaten path.