Saturday, March 24, 2007

The New York Times - 36 Hours in Prague

The Travel section of Sunday's edition of The New York Times has an article, "36 Hours in Prague" by Evan Rail. The piece is already available online, and it is already a top 10 most e-mailed story.

The article gives readers an off the beaten track itinerary, something of an insider's guide to Prague. It's a good list of things to do for someone who is making a return visit to the city or wants a little more local flavor. My only quibble is the line about the "supermodel-prone locals."

Mr. Rail has written a number of freelance articles about this country. He did another one for The New York Times, "The Ultimate Beer Run in the Czech Republic" back in August 2006. It was on the "Most Popular" list for many days.

In this most recent piece, he highlights somewhat lesser known food and drink places like Tynska literarni kavarna, Vino di Vino, Grand Cafe Orient, Pivovarsky klub, Perpetuum, Blind Eye, Palac Akropolis, and Hapu.

Maybe Café Savoy is the exception -- it is well known as one of the city's best cafes.

Café Savoy is already getting so popular, it is hard to show up spontaneously for a table any more. I went to Hapu recently in the middle of the week, and the small, neighborhood cocktail bar was packed. It was difficult to get a drink and nearly impossible to find a place to sit.

I've had people say they won't tell me their favorite place for fear of bringing in crowds. And this blog is hardly The New York Times in terms of readership.

So, telling a broad, international audience about local and expat favorites in Prague brings up an interesting point.

Is this a good thing? The easy answer for many of those who live in this city is "no." They get very protective about these places.

As for me, I'm not so sure. But you have to consider the source.

I always think sharing is good.


Anonymous said...

I read this story and in general I like Evan's writing. That said, I have to say I was not that crazy about this piece.

It was the lead sentence that took it off-kilter for me:

"FORGET all thoughts of Kafka, post-communist grit and writers trying to craft the Great American Novel, as most of the old ideas about Prague are now very far off the mark."

Is it just me, or do others out there feel it's time to banish forever contrived ideas and cliches about Prague and the "Left Bank of the '90s"? Why do writers filing stories about Prague (and I have been guilty of this too) feel like they have to coat the city in a kind of hokey, pre-conceived goo that was never true from the start and was always in fact a media invention.

It would be refreshing to see a story about Prague that refused to pander to any preconceived notion and simply presented the city honestly as it is and was. That would mean no references to "Kafka," the "Great American Novel," or "super models."

Maybe no paper would buy it?

Brewsta said...

But, isn't that what he's saying?

Anonymous said...


That's what it looks like but in reality it's not. Just by using words in the lead like "great American novel" and "Kafka," he's pandering to cliches about the city. These are journalistic "straw men," which he can then skillfully "debunk" in the rest of the piece. Nothing new under the sun here ...

Brewsta said...

Someone on pointed out that saying Prague is in Eastern rather than Central Europe is another problem. People can be pretty sensitive about that.

Anonymous said...

I agree, in this article there some points which I think don't concern real life in Prague. In order to have right opinion about Prague, you should not only visit it, but live here.