09 August 2011

Girl On Bike Rides To Rainbow In Prague

Summer...In the US, it's a time when frazzled parents with squalling kids go to amusement parks, professional couples go and fry themselves on beaches that, they believe, only they know about.  And guys go to the movies to see pikshas of girls with guns.  Said girls, of course, are usually not wearing much more than their ammo belts.

So, for all of you guys, I'm going to offer the next best thing--a girl in Prague, on a bike:

OK, so I'm not wearing a bikini and my accessories don't run to bandoliers.  And maybe I'm more of a babushka than a girl.  (All of the tacky souvenir shops are full of row after row of Russian dolls.  I thought Vaclav Havel and Alexander Dubcek ended such things!)  So, just for having to endure the indignity of seeing an overweight middle-aged American woman on a rented bike, I'll offer you this:

Really, I didn't intentionally make her blurrier.  I mean, just because she's younger and more attractive than I'll ever be, and is wearing an outfit I can only hope to pull of in my next life,  it doesn't mean I sub- (or not-so-sub-) consciously took a bad photo.  My real purpose...ahem...was to show the wonderful shop from which I rented the bike I rode. It's the same one from which I took a guided tour the other day:  City Bike, on Namesti Republiky (Republic Square).  It's a tiny place, entered thorough one of those wonderful covered passageways one often sees between public buildings in this city.  

City Bike is literally steps from this architectural marvel.  Municipal Hall out-Art Nouveaus any Art Nouveau building you've ever seen.  

Just how you envisioned your next renovation, right?  Just go down to your local Home Depot and pick up all of those materials.

The building and City Bike are also within two kilometers of many of this city's attractions:  the Old Town Square (with the Astronomical Clock), among other things, the Old Jewish Quarter (where I went into the Starenovo, a.k.a. Old-New, Synagogue, the supposed home of the Golem), Wenceslas Square, the Charles Bridge and, of course, the Castle.

Today, on my first solo ride, I went by all of those places.  Then, from the Castle, I took a left (I'm not talking about my politics) and went straight (No comment on that.) through some parts of the city I hadn't seen.  

This building, in the Smichov shopping center, seems to be an inverse mirror reflection of Frank Gehry's "Dancing Building" on the other side of the Vlata River.  (You can't see one building from the other, so I don't think this symmetry was intentional.)  Smichov has been described as Prague's most "schizophrenic" neighborhood: the area around the shopping center and Andel station contain some of the city's swankiest villas.  Yet, less than two kilometers down the road I cycled, near the Schmikovske Nadrazi rail station, is one of the most impoverished areas of the city.  From that station, I found myself riding through an old industrial area, some of which seemed to be abandoned, until I came to an old residential area and, finally, a trestle that was just wide enough for the trams that passed over it.

Although I seemed to be cycling in even tighter spaces than I do in New York or have in Paris, riding these streets didn't seem quite as frentic.  To be sure, I didn't have to be any place in particular at any given time.   But, even when I rode down ancient cobblestoned streets not much wider than my (I'll let you choose the part of my body.  Ha, ha.) and drivers approached from behind, they didn't honk their horns or pull as close as they could to my rear wheel.  Admittedly, those streets aren't very long, so they didn't have to spend very much time waiting.  But I could not imagine a New York or Parisian driver being so patient.

After I got back to my hotel and walked in search of a meal, this sight greeted me:

That, after this:

That was one of two rainbows I've seen since I've been here. A sign, perhaps?  I hope!


  1. Way cool! I would love to see some of that beauty some day!!

    Have a ball!

    Peace :)

  2. Lovely photos - the rainbow over the colorful architecture below is breathtaking.