Τhere are lots of books about Prague, guide books, picture books, books specialised on the city’s architecture, history, cuisine, and what not.
This blog (In English and German!) is a preview of My Very Personal Prague Book – it’s gonna be more than one, I’m sure. It’s my impressions, my views, my experiences, everything I have been absorbing since 2005.
In 2005 I was invited to a Microsoft congress here. I have been writing and speaking about Europe’s information technoloy industry, that’s why. Living in Vienna, this didn’t mean much of travelling. Four and a half hours by train – and I hadn’t been in Prague since 1993. It was January, I was overworked and had a cold – some distraction would do me good, I thought, and booked a ticket and a hotel.
It was freezing when I arrived, the icy snowflakes dashed horizontally through the air and thus into my face. I reduced the opening of my hood to a minimum, saw almost nothing. So I booked a bus tour, as there would be several indoor visits, thus culture plus higher temperatures, shelter and the other cup of coffee.
The city was beautiful, as I knew from before, there was a lot to see, as I knew from before, and otherwise the average Austrian didn’t know too much about this city. Sure, lots of Austrian, especially Viennese second names sound Czech, we do know that the two countries had been somewhat linked during the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, and that lots of us had obviously a past here. One of Austria’s most popular comedians, Maxi Böhm – a speaking name, as if made up for his later job1 – came from Liberec in the North of Bohemia, as what the Czech Republic was called then2, Reichenberg by its German name. His art was mainly to tell jokes in the unbeatable dialect of the German population of former times.
And there we are. The Austrians know virtually nothing about this rich history, experts, scholars, some old people exempt. The world knows even less about the close links between those two countries which one can hardly distinguish from each other as soon as one delves into their history, lifestyle, habits, cuisine and many oher areas of life.
The pictures in this book, the guide chapters are supposed to tell you everything about Prague and some other cities and regions in this beautiful country, and to give you precise information about sights, history, events and practically everything a traveller expects to see and to experience, certainly spiced with my own views and those of a few others who contributed.
The rest is a fascinating story about a past that still lives in the present – if one opens one’s eyes and ears. My most concise definition about this hidden Austro-Czech connection would be: „I don’t know any other two neighbouring countries in the world, speaking two completely different languages, and being separated from each other for almost a 100 years, that would have more in common than Austria and the Czech Republic.“
Read, enjoy and be surprised.
1 „Böhm“ is the Austrian dialectal expression for a „Bohemian“ – not the French definition meaning someone who leads a somwhat „irregular“ life but simply a citizen of Bohemia. In pure (Viennese) dialect, this would be „Behm“, with a long „e“, like the family name of a former mayor of Prague – Bém.
2 Although not precisely – The Czech Republic consists of Bohemia, Moravia (Main city: Brno, or Brünn in German), and the Czech part of Silesia in the East, sharing this region with Poland. The literature therefore calls these three „the Czech Lands“.