Monday, August 25, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I flew home yesterday after spending one last day in Prague. The weather threatened to rain on me, but never actually did, so I got to enjoy my last 24 hours in Eastern Europe.

Also, in case this wasn't clear, Prague is not in Czechoslovakia, because Czechoslovakia no longer exists. What used to be Czechoslovakia is now two countries - The Czech Republic and Slovakia. The capital of the Czech Republic is Prague, and the capital of Slovakia is Bratislava. I didn't make it to Bratislava or Slovakia this summer (unless you count the train I took from Budapest to Prague that passed through Slovakia).

One of thing I noticed on my last day might be considered a “dark side” to Czech drinking culture. When I was leaving Olomouc yesterday to go to Prague (on their new fast train - the Pendolino), I saw three different men on three different occasions purchasing beer before 9 AM. One couldn’t have been older than 18. Then while I was waiting for the airport bus at 6:30 AM this morning I saw the three men in the picture buying beer at the kiosk behind them, probably while they were on their way to work:

But I still think that drinking and drunkenness aren’t as pronounced in the Czech Republic as in, for example, Russia or Poland, since beer isn’t as potent as vodka.

Something else new for me is vending machine beer:

You must swipe an ID to prove that you are at least 18 (the legal drinking age in the Czech Republic) to purchase the beer. My passport didn’t work in the machine, so I guess you have to have a Czech (or European) ID to make the machine happy.

Something that Alicia and I noticed earlier in the summer that differs from the US is the culture surrounding kids and families. In the US, it often seems like having kids requires you to turn your life inside out. At the very least, society seems to expect a certain number and type of changes. In contrast, Czech and other European families seem to go on living pretty much the same as they did before kids. They walk around town and run errands with their small children, go to gatherings with friends, take them on the buses, the trains, etc. and it’s all completely normal. Children’s presence in society is not an annoyance to adults, but instead a normal and perhaps even welcome addition. I think that’s cool. And, Christine, I’m glad you’ve been doing your part to bring this more European family style to the middle of the US.

Here are a few more pictures from my last day. This is the old Jewish cemetery in Josefov (through a small window, since the cemetery was closed):

And some other areas of the Old Town:

Well, this is my last blog. Thanks for reading! And thank you, Prague & Eastern Europe, for having me - it's been an adventure!


porter867-5309 said...

so you're home now?!

Julia M. said...

Yep, I'm home. Are you coming to visit? Or do I need to *finally* make it down to LA?

iwanagain said...

I was so sad your blog was ending I put off reading until now. I propose you leave soon for Eastern Asia (I'm sure you'll need a third or fourth degree in Korean!) so I can resume my vicarious living. Also, a shout out in the final blog?! How cool is that. Anyhow, welcome back and make sure to check out Chicago soon.

Julia M. said...

I'm going to Regensburg, Germany & the Czech Republic at the end of the year for a conference and some research. But I don't think there'll be blogging since I'm supposed to be doing work and being productive (grrrr....). But I agree that a trip to East Asia is in order, especially now that the Olympics are over!