Thing I love and (un)love about Prague

If you go back to my first blog entry, I predicted (planned?) that at some point I would write about the differences between life in Boston and Prague.  And that I would start passing judgment on those differences.  Mostly in jest.

A commitment is a commitment, so here goes.

LOVE

1. Beer.  Sausage.  Beer & sausage.  Sausage & beer.  If this isn’t the beer & sausage capital of the world, state your case.  I mean, the local hypermarket must have 40 varieties behind the counter.

2. Bread.  Your basic hypermarket beats the best artisanal bread store in Boston.  Hands down.

3. Countryside.  Green, rolling hills.  Unspoiled forests.  Lots of both.  If you are a cow, or a walker, you’re in heaven.

4.  Architecture.  Another obvious one next to beer.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s beautiful, revered and preserved.

From my flat...

5. Traditions.  Despite a lot of external changes imposed on the country in the last 70 years (first Nazism, then Communism, then global Capitalism), traditions endure.  Did I mention beer?  But also food, manners, the value of friendship and a healthy dose of cynicism/secularism.

6. Public transportation.  It’s everywhere and it’s cheap.  Subways, trams, buses.  You can live without a car.  Easily.

(UN)LOVE

1. Traditions.  I was told, not asked, that my dumplings would not be served at the same time as my Caesar salad.  They are not suitable together, according to some unspoken food tradition.

2. The damned coins you must deposit to obtain a shopping cart. Is 50 cents really a deterrent to theft?  Plus, I had a job at age 14 retrieving those carts from the far corners of the parking lot.  Why take those kids’ jobs away?  The best example was encountering this system in a grocery store located in a basement.  If you can smuggle the cart out via the elevator, more power to you.

3. Smoking.  If the UK can stop smoking in pubs, Czechs can too.

4. Service.  Somehow I long for the fake, plastic smile of the American server.  Many in the service sector here realize that it’s the customer paying the bills.  A few are still immune to this truth.

JUST PLAIN WEIRD

1. ZZSHMP.  This is the name of a local ambulance chain.  Imagine calling 911 and pleading for an ambulance.  Caller: “Help, send ZZSHMP!”  Operator, to co-worker:  “Wow, this dude must be gurgling blood.  Probably too late to save him”.

2. This logo.  Are they trying to sell smoked sausages or a means to extract tapeworms?

 

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7 thoughts on “Thing I love and (un)love about Prague

  1. Don, congratulations on moving to Prague and starting the new role! I just wanted to comment on your view as an expat here and must say your right about many things! I think one of the things still lacking here is definately customer service! Anyway, great ideas on the blog, will keep following…

  2. 1) ZZSHMP means Zdravotnická záchranná služba hlavního města Prahy. In english City of Prague Emergency Medical Service. You don’t say “send ZZSHMP” of course. 😀
    2) And about the logo: You’re right. It looks weird. 😀 But it’s traditional and it’s just a man who is eating sausage.
    3) Caesar salad and dumplings together? You barbarian! 😀 You’re right with other points from (UN)LOVE.
    Greetings from Prague. Petr

  3. Hey Don,
    I spent couple of days in Boston while studying in upstate NY last year. Compare to Prague, Czech capital is like ten thousand times more fun. But I do see your point here, especially when it comes to that smoking case. Enjoy your time in here.
    best
    M.

  4. Well, you can’t really take away jobs that never existed 🙂 Those coins are simply motivation for people to return the shopping carts where they belong, instead of leaving them all over the parking lots (which are considerably smaller and more crowded than in the States). It’s a tradition, too; just carry a plastic 10CZK-sized token in your wallet and the problem goes away.

    Thanks for the outside view 🙂

  5. You can easily obtain those plastic tokens, too. From time to time, big chains are giving them out as a part of some marketing campaign, or so.

    Like Kuba said, those slots were never an incentive not to steal. After all, you can always take the coin out with some moderate use of force and brains, without even damaging the mechanism. Sometimes, those carts are being used for fun, for example at dorms. We have one in our room right now. Roommate did not feel like carrying several bags of food and beverages in hands, so now we can ride the cart up and down the hallway 🙂

    @3:Smoking. Sure, it can be banned. We just dont want it. Part of the tradition thing, you might say.

    @4:Service. Depends on personal POW. Id rather have indifferent, but real, than fabricated smiley service. Now if someone is outright rude at you, that is a different story.

    @ZZSHMP: Petr got it right, almost. It is actually Emergency Medical Service of Capital City of Prague. Details, though. Pluss you call 112, not 911. Or you can still call 155, too (I think).

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