The Medieval meets the Modern (tourist)

23 Jan

Two eyes, two hands (one more important than the other), two feet, a brain, and a heart (not necessarily in that order). Walking the streets of Prague last week made me realise an essential truth about travel; it sustains our attention because we are intruders in a foreign space. Every sight and sensation reinforces that this is not our land but with the spice of imagination, we can pretend for a while and drop in, like cultural dim sum, choosing what we like and leaving the other bits. Prague felt more upbeat on this trip. Our trip there last March coincided with the start of the Ukraine war and a heaviness lay over the city as a deep simpatico was felt with Ukraine over Russian aggression and rule. This trip, it felt like the tourists ruled. Languages from around the world can be heard and people gravitate towards certain features and landmarks like they are following a program. It is a beautiful city with a serious people and the contrasts between the grand and opulent architecture, the ambling tourists and the hardened locals give it a unique dynamic that is compellingly inaccessible. It is impossible to not feel like a tourist because the language, culture and pulse of the city is beyond most visitors. It is dense and shadowed. This, however, is what makes it such a rich and compelling subject. Below you can see a search for the heart of Prague. Most drawings have been witnessed and a few are based of photos from the Communism museum which depict soviet era faces and a man shot while trying to escape the country. Mournful beauty pervades these drawings and I think, just maybe, I captured just a little bit of what turns the old machinery of Prague.


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