Dark side of Prague

Fire at Vystaviste - Prague exhibition ground

Nov 4, 15:43 Filed under dark-side-of-prague

On Thursday 16th of October, a catastrophe happened in Prague. There was a big fire in a precious historical building of Industrial Palace (Prumyslovy palac) in Vystaviste area in Prague 7. The fire completely destroyed the left (west) wing of the palace.

The fire was the most probably caused by an explosion at one of the stalls which were at the building because there was held dentist fair trade called Pragodent. But how and why explosion happened is quite unclear. Was it just an accident? There were also some speculations, that the fire was somehow connected with the Kockas family, who hires offices in Vystaviste and organizes here “Matejska pout”, popular event with various attractions. Vaclav Kocka, the younger, was shot a week before the fire, during the baptism of the book written by Jiri Paroubek, the leader of the political party CSSD. So are those just a speculations and the fire was only a very bad accident or there are really some connections with the events of the week before?

However it was, there is now hard work to be done, because the Palace should be renovated, and the burn wing should look exactly how it looked before, it is going to be difficult and expensive. But the palace is a heritage site of high importance.

The palace was built for the big exhibition in 1891 by the architect Bedrich Munzberger. For the same exhibition was also built such famous things as Petrin tower, Petrin funicular or Krizik’s fountain. The industrial palace was since then used mainly for exhibitions and fair trades. It was quite magnificent building, so lets hope that the renovation is going to be successful.

Watch your belongings!

Dec 29, 12:17 Filed under dark-side-of-prague

I have just been an unintentional witness of a horrific scene, a crime scene, and I feel that I must tell you all about it. Ok, ok, I do exaggerate a bit, there was no blood what so ever and I think that no police was involved. But still, I was pretty shocked and I really felt terrible, for those who were the main actors in the play. Do you want to know what happened?

So, I was waiting peacefully for the tram at Hlavni nadrazi station (Main Railway station in English). The weather was beautiful, sun was shinning, birds were singing… Well, not really, but you know what I mean. It was a nice winter day with the Christmas atmosphere all around you. And then, quite unexpectedly, a man rushed out of a tram from the other direction. He ran very quickly for few seconds and then, surprisingly enough, he stopped immediately. He seemed very confused. He was looking for someone that is for sure, but that someone was gone. His confusion quickly turned into a deep sadness. Plus, it was obvious that he did not know what to do. Then, a woman and a boy, probably his wife and son, joint him. They all stood there, looking around. How terribly sad!

I sooooo wanted to help but it was obvious that my help came too late anyway. I think none of us has to be Columbo to see that this poor man was robbed. So please, pay an extra attention to all your things, especially valuable things. It’s Christmas time which means a harvest for all pickpockets. They are usually well-trained and organized groups from Eastern Europe. They misuse the hectic period of Advent.

So, every time you find yourself in a crowded space, especially in public transportations, near Christmas markets or tourist areas, guard your belongings! It is worth it to be little paranoid and suspicious than without money, passport or other needed things.

Prague Olympics: Some Doubts

Nov 22, 12:58 Filed under dark-side-of-prague

olympic games are carried on shoulders of many The city magistrates have announced they will get Prague on the candidate list of the Summer Olympic Games, hoping for a victory in the competition in 2020 at the latest. An ambitious plan, more so as it is announced shortly after the uneconomic, in financial terms relatively disappointing Athens, and just before the Chinese incredibly costly spectacle, it quickly aroused debate. The first example shows the difficulty of finding a sensible use for the new sporting grounds and the latter presents a show of grandeur unmatchable by a Czech budget.

The key question is whether it will do the city enough good, considering the high costs and the possible prospects. Only the costs for security get to some twenty billion crowns. That may be one of the sacrifices the project demands to be successful.

What is the reason for Prague being the hosting city? Its beautiful center, its historical heart? The Olympics would most likely take place in Letnany, which is a peripheral part just like that of any other European city. The need to attract more tourists? I believe there is no problem with the number of tourists in Prague, the center is often at the verge of collapse. It is true though that the share of attention between the center and the other parts of the city is disproportionate and the Olympics would contribute to retrieving balance to the equation. Not substantially and not decisively, in my opinion.

I also do not see much sense in building large stadiums, since the ones that already are in Prague suffer from lack of attention. Even the Sazka/T-Mobile Arena is struggling. How could it not struggle? These are premises for large state-level sporting events and for large concerts only a handful of Czech bands may afford to stage. And in Czech Republic these things do not occur weekly.

And there are other reasons for doubt. Prague is not in perfect shape. Something must be done with cross-town traffic. There was a promise of more Metro stations, the traffic on the river bank is not only slow, it also damages the environment, an otherwise remarkable edge of the old town.

Whatever the result will be, the key question remains: is it worth the pain? It is for the Chinese, who will use the games to present the country in the brightest colors possible. And for an economically stronger nation the pains may be smaller in comparison. The theme surely needs more time and consideration.

Czech Sherwood

Mar 11, 12:12 Filed under news

Prague Main Station Sherwood Forest is probably the best known forest in the world. It is connected with the famous legend of Robin Hood. In this forest, Robin Hood and his fellow men were robbing the rich and feeding the poor, always fighting against injustice and tyranny. How great, right?

Well, there is a place in Prague that is by many called “Sherwood Forest”. It is the park around the Main Train Station in Prague (in Czech Hlavni nadrazi). It is called “Sherwood Forest”, however, not for some second Robin Hood who is defending all needy, but because around this Main Train Station is the biggest concentration of homeless people in Prague.

I don’t know why this place attracts those people so much. It is true that inside this station, which is the biggest and busiest railway station in Prague, there are many benches and corners out of sight. And it is warm here. What is more, not far from the station is a missionary and charity organization Nadeje (in English Hope) which provides services to people in need.

Hlavni nadrazi is not the most dangerous place in Prague, but it isn’t nice place to walk through. You sometimes see those poor people sleeping on the floor, who usually don’t smell very well, and that is not the best first impression of Prague for those who arrive by train. It is a pity, especially because the building is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau style.

It is true, though, that since the end of 2006, a great reconstruction of Hlavni nadrazi and its surroundings for about 650 million CZK has started. This reconstruction should turn this slightly dirty station into a modern and representative building within 3 or 4 years without affecting the traffic.

Homeless people should find their home on a new boat that anchors on Vltava river from January and serves as a permanent home for homeless people in Prague.

The park’s real name is Vrchlickeho sady and is located just few minutes walk from Wenceslas Square.

Don’t tease the pickpockets in Prague!

Jan 9, 16:54 Filed under recommendation

Beware of pickpockets Prague is the capital city and at the same time the biggest city in the Czech Republic. Because of its beauty and magic it attracts thousands of tourists every year. Impressed tourists, however, tend to pay more attention to the historical buildings and forget all about their belongings. It is therefore no wonder that Prague is attractive not only for tourists but also for pickpockets! That is why you should always think of your bags and purses at all times!

Try not to tease the pickpockets! What do I mean by that? First of all, don’t walk around carrying a bigger financial amount. Secondly, don’t have your wallet within grasp for others. And always keep and eye on your handbags. Try to avoid crowds if possible. But if you find yourself in a crowd, hold your handbag to impede its opening or snatching. Don’t be an easy victim for them!

You should be more careful in the streets near tourist attractions and in crowded public transportation – notorious are trams number 22, 23 and 9. And never change money on the street since you will probably get ripped off.

So, to sum up – anytime you see a crowd put a hand over your bag and hold it a bit tighter or have your bag where you can see it all the time. For example, when I am in a crowded tram or subway, I wear my backpack on my stomach.

So don’t let the pickpockets spoil your vacation and be more careful! You never know when you may come across those people. But if you are wise enough they will have no chance!

End to Unpleasant Aspects of Prague?

Dec 26, 08:44 Filed under culture

Tram in Prague-Barrandov Do you wonder how Prague can possibly be unpleasant? Well, very easily. At least for me it is every winter season when it gets cold outside. Every year, when the temperature forces me to wear winter jacket and a scarf, I know it is coming. At this time I hate to use trams! And the time is here again!

Why I hate driving by trams right now? You have probably noticed yourself. When it’s cold outside you can come across homeless people in trams. It is understandable – they have nowhere else to go to warm up. They usually go by trams because in subways there is the chance you meet a controller face to face much higher than in a tram. Controllers don’t like black riders in general, and homeless people are no exception. You don’t encounter many controllers when driving by bus, but buses are very short and bus drivers can therefore pay attention to who is on board. That is why homeless people are mostly seen in trams.

Tram stop in Prague I feel sad for them in a way. It has to be terrible to have no place to go, no place to call your home. I can’t even imagine it!! And I don’t mind that they don’t pay for the ride. They don’t have enough money for that. On the other hand I don’t like to drive with them in a tram because they usually smell very bad. I know it is stupid from me because they don’t have many opportunities to wash themselves but I just don’t like it.

However, there is a great chance that all this will be solved in a very near future. Municipal authorities of Prague are working on a boat that will anchor on Vltava river and will serve as a permanent home for homeless people in Prague. It will not only provide a higher comfort of living for them but will help them to return to “normal” society as well. This boat should be running from this very winter 2006, latest in January 2007. Now that I call a great idea!!

Bitter sweet

May 5, 20:49 Filed under sightseeing

On Saturday late evening we went for a walk on the Charles Bridge. It was the night before the Burning of the Witches (celebrated every year on April 30). Even though it was quite late at night, the city centre was more alive than ever, streets full of tourists and locals, searching for the right pub or disco to enter. Or exiting a pub and entering a disco… Anyway, after abandoning the plan with the disco (it was far too crowded for something to come out of it), we just decided to take the walk on the Charles Bridge. And we were a bit surprised (in the good way), seeing some harlequins handling burning staffs.

They were young, looking maybe a bit weird, but people passing by were definitely appreciating their fiery show and throwing them money. They were cheering the atmosphere. At least until some policemen came and interrupted their show. That was nothing nice to be seen. Imagine, the romantic atmosphere of the bridge, the black night and the red fire juggling and all of the sudden policemen come and ruin it all.

I understand city order and policemen doing their job, but this? Those youngsters were doing nothing wrong; on the contrary, these types of shows are very frequent and appreciated in the city centre, especially the Charles Bridge. They were no beggars or homeless, and even if they had been, they were doing something to earn their money and not stealing or harassing passers-by. But well, life is not always sweet…

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