Against all the odds Prague survived World War Two largely intact. It even came out of a communist regime with only a handful of tower blocks as battle wounds. Walking through the town centre is like passing through an incredibly underrated museum. Art Nouveau concert halls rub shoulders with medieval castles and there’s even a bit of Cubism thrown in for good measure. All in all, it’s a very European experience. That is, until Bruce comes to town.
Bruce Springsteen walked onto a stage, in a football stadium on the edge of an Eastern European city, and the whole place woke up. For the next three and a half hours we were no longer in Prague, we were walking through small town New Jersey with the Boss himself. We were singing of the perils of Atlantic City – a place half the audience had probably never heard of – and unwittingly exploring the shortcomings of American politics. None of the invaders before him had managed to make their mark on Prague to quite the extent that Bruce did.
…I’m quite a fan of Prague’s culinary offerings…
Although, perhaps fortunately for this fine city, this Rock and Roll tattoo isn’t permanent. The world’s largest castle still stands proud and the astronomical clock in the Old Square will continue to perform its famous act on the hour, every hour.
If there’s one other thing that even Springsteen himself can’t shake up, it’s the food. We learned the basic equation of Czech cooking pretty early on: meat and potatoes equal meal. My first stop on the culinary train (which ended up at a certain place called heartburn by the way. Not recommendable) was Havelska Koruna. This canteen style restaurant serves good, cheap and hearty food. I tried the beef and mushrooms with potatoes which reminded me of my Mum’s famous casseroles in a reassuring kind of way. This was followed by fruit dumplings, trdlnik and an ice cream. All in all, I’m quite a fan of Prague’s culinary offerings, and the prices of course.
It avoids the war scars that many other European cities bear…
I’ll also take this opportunity to point out the entertainment value of a trip to Tesco in Prague. We all know that really, food shopping in a foreign supermarket is the best bit of any holiday and the shops here don’t disappoint. There was even an in store aquarium for when you want your fish to be really fresh… try to find one of those in your nearest branch of Morrisons.
However, Prague has more to offer than food shopping, fruit dumplings and flying visits from Bruce Springsteen. For example, St Vitus Cathedral boasts incredible stained glass windows and the view of the city from the Old Town Hall tower is unforgettable. The best way to absorb the full extent of this city’s patch worked past is to join one of the many walking tours leaving from the Old Town Square every morning.
Prague’s history shows on its skin not as unsightly tower blocks or ruined castles. It avoids the war scars that many other European cities bear and is instead freckled with gems from the history books. From housing the oldest synagogue in Europe to boasting the world’s only cubist cafe, Prague is undoubtedly one of Europe’s richest treasure troves.