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Column: Only in Praha
by Loran Smith
Columnist
September 05, 2013 05:08 PM | 4168 views | 0 0 comments | 82 82 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Loran Smith
Loran Smith
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PRAGUE, Czech Republic – A number of options are available to find your way here once arriving in Europe.  

Air travel — there are multiple connections from anywhere.  

You can also get here by car, of course. However, the best way, based on a recent experience, is to fly to Berlin and take the train. In late afternoon.

Take along an ample supply of the beverage of your choice, a snack and an appreciation for picturesque Old-World scenes — then sit back and enjoy the ride as the train meanders along the Elbe River. What a memory to treasure!  

The trip is inspirational and fulfilling — something to savor with the passing of time.

There are castles and fortresses in the distance and graphic river scenes, replete with boats, docks and laid-back life on the Elbe. Steeples, amid slate-roof houses, pierce the air in every village where life moves at a pace less rushed than by the train in which you are ensconced.   

A modest gait and an unfettered wandering along the riverbank marks the collective life you observe from your window. It is a train ride with feeling. It is a recurring scene of villages, with window boxes dominating the appearance of all the houses. No two look alike, all with colorful landscaping and gardens. Neat and becoming, the most idyllic of scenes. You instantly resolve to return.

You arrive at Prague after sundown, and the place is buzzing but not bustling, no amplified sounds banging about to ruin your evening. Prague at night is enticing and compelling. People walk and talk without agendas or issues. Young couples, old couples — tourists and natives.  

There is a harmonious comingling that lifts the spirits as a full moon showers its good-mood glow over the Charles River. Any time of day or night, a walk over the Charles Bridge leaves you with a sober view of the world. Life should be so good wherever you go.  

The amalgamation of languages, cultures and people don’t collide. They seamlessly mesh, producing a wonderful reaction from the soul: I am happy I am here; I will be sad to depart.  

A notebook is engaged when you are browsing the streets of Prague. You need to remember what the food was like at Konirana, a restaurant on the far side of the Charles Bridge. You don’t want to forget the trimmings of an upscale room at the Palace Hotel and the hospitality of the waiter, Daniel Prokes, in the restaurant; the local Czech wine Modry Portugal; most of all life in the streets.  

Your camera is engaged constantly as you find your way through the outdoor restaurants where the squares are frequented by expansive rotisseries making their slow turn over simmering fires that singe your supper.

A day is not enough. A long weekend might do Prague justice, but this is a place which makes you yearn for a fortnight. Nobody yells at anybody in the streets — not even the cab drivers, who appreciate a tip but don’t expect one.

While I have come to believe that serendipity might grace your travels anywhere you go, you can’t imagine the unadulterated pleasure of our Prague experience, which involved our neighbor, Demi Fitzgerald. A junior at Georgia, she enrolled in the study abroad program at Innsbruck, one of the most popular student-ops in Europe each summer — class during the week and travel to distant destinations on the weekend.

There we were, browsing for a restaurant for lunch, and a group of Georgia students had congregated on the corner.  

The next thing you know, we bumped square into our pretty across-the-street neighbor.

Only in Praha!

Loran Smith is an administrative specialist for the University of Georgia sports communication department. You can reach him at loransmithathens@bellsouth.net.
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