Last night, I went down to the Old Town in Prague to look for a kosher restaurant I had found on the Internet. I never did find it, though I walked all over the place, visiting sites I’d been on during my All Classical Earthbound tour a couple of years ago.
The buildings are beautiful, but this time I was struck by the difference in atmosphere between Old Town and where I’m staying now. Just a few tram stops away from my apartment is a big shopping center with everything for the perfect life: supermarket, ATM, cool clothing store – Terranova, a chain of some sort, and some other stores. There’s also a Metro (subway) stop, and about 10 different trams going thru the square. Nearby is a lovely church. This place is called Andel, pronounced Ahn-dyell.
This area is an intimate square for local Czechs, unlike the Old Town, which was teeming with tourists. It was harder to get through these crowds than the ones at Andel.
I had to think for a while to figure out why, since the density is about the same or more dense in Andel. It’s like the difference between commute traffic and weekend traffic. In the first, all the drivers know where they are going, where to turn, what freeway entrances to take, etc. On weekends, most drivers are kind of random, not sure where they want to go, lost, etc.
Shops in Old Town had crystal, tchotchkes, art works, maps. There were dozens of places to change your money. And that brings me to my final point. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about avoiding pickpockets.
In the comment section was an even more fascinating item – a link to a blog specifically designed to identify techniques of thievery used all over the world. If you don’t go to the link, at least know that favorite targets these days, even more so than wallets, are SmartPhones. Just a word to the wise. I don’t even have a cell phone yet!
After reading this, I’m glad I didn’t dig out my camera to get pix of Old Town! That would have made me a sure target!