23 August 2011

A Czech Guest's Column

In a sort of response to a suggestion Steve A (of DFW Point to Point fame), today I am turning this blog over to a "guest," Milena Svoboda.  She has just recently arrived in New York from Prague, and offers some of her observations about cycling and other things in New York.

I simply cannot comprehend such bright sunshine.  We sometimes have days when there is barely a single cloud in the sky and you can see blue spread out above you, even brighter than the inside of the Hall of Mirrors.  But even with my darkest sunglasses, which I bought just before I left Praha, I still had to ride with my eyes almost closed.

Naturally, the sun can never be as bright in Praha.  We are exactly on the 50th parallel of latitude, as every Czech knows.  On Google, it says that the 50th passes just below Winnipeg, Canada.  For the contrast, New York just north of the 40th, which passes through Minorca, Sardinia and near Ankara.  Justine didn't know that; it is probable that most other people in America don't know that, either.  

Now I understand why Justine got so lost in Praha.  When all of your streets are straight lines, like they are in this city, it's so much easier to find out where you have to go.  Back home, the streets wind round castles and churches; Justine says that when they build a new road here, they knock down people's houses.  

How many Americans pedal on streets like this?  That is the reason why they and Justine are always getting lost.  No wonder they had the need to invent the GPS!  Justine says that is the logical result of being in a country that was "discovered" by someone who got lost.

Anyway (Since I meet Justine, I begin many of my sentences with that word .) I felt like I was riding on a magic carpet.  Where did they find all of this asphalt?  Justine let me borrow the bike she just bought.  It rides so fast and so smooth.  It would much like to ride it in Praha:

It's a pretty bike.  All of Justine's bikes are pretty.  Everyone on this blog says so, too.  I felt like I was floating above the castle when we rode along the river.

After seeing the river and the Hudson, I understand why American streets are so wide and straight.  When I saw Justine, I knew she is from Angliecky or Americky because she carried a book called "Lonely Planet."  In that book, it says that the Vlatva River winds through the heart of Praha like a question mark.  I like that; it makes me realize that the Hudson and East Rivers rush, straight as these streets, through New York like two exclamation marks!

Soon I must return to Praha.  I hope to return to New York some time soon; I was just starting to learn how to ride here.  Justine said she was just starting to understand how to ride in Praha before she had to go home, too.  She wants to come back; I hope she does.


  1. Thanks, Milena, it makes me want to go visit New York!

  2. Thanks for the entertaining guest post!

    Justine, that mixte is looking SHARP in the photos!!

  3. Oh, that bike!! Someday I will have my mixte. Milena is so lucky!

  4. This was a fresh perspective and a great read. Thank you for sharing.