Monday, January 30, 2006

"New Europe" part II

On another level, my trip to Prague somehow epitomized Europe today and how I constantly find myself surrounded by history. Having become so accustomed to the Euro, it did not dawn on me until the night before that I would need to change money in Prague. I even considered not bringing my passport because the Czech Republic is now part of the EU. Changing money was not a big deal, though it was strange having to constantly remember that how many Crowns equaled a Euro or a Dollar. Forgetting my passport would have been a larger problem, since I discovered upon arriving at the border that police still board the trains and stamp passports. (Crisis averted!)

It also dawned on me how “Europe” my weekend was as I easily took the train from west to east, passing under the shadow of the TV tower on Alexander Platz and long abandoned guard towers. I also passed by a number of buildings whose flags were flying at half-mast because Friday was the first Holocaust Remembrance Day (and 61 years after the Russians liberated Auschwitz.) Flags were not flying at half mast in Prague but they certainly were in Berlin.

As compared with my last trip to Prague, I was more aware of the history of the Czech Republic and the role it played in the Cold War. Seeing the square where the ’68 and ’89 protests against Communism took place, among other sites in the FORMER Czechoslovakia really made me look at the country as much more than an inexpensive tourist destination.

Maybe Budapest will be my next Eastern Europe adventure!


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