05 April 2010

Too much of a good thing

Unfortunately, the spring equinox did not bring warm weather to Prague, but we are having sunny days and there is no more snow, so I’m quite happy. It is windy and there are scattered showers. I’m not very fond of wet, windy and cold weather but, if the sun shines, it is tolerable, and I was so ready for sun.

Even if the weather is not cooperating, there are plenty of other signs that spring is in the air. Europeans are known for being great lovers of dogs, and the sidewalks have suddenly come alive with dog walkers. The downside is that not all dog owners are responsible, and I have to watch my feet as carefully now as I did when ice was on the sidewalks. It also makes me wonder where all these dogs were during the winter months?

The sidewalks have become treacherous for another reason, too. Preschool kids are out en masse on their wheeled toys, and most moms are less than attentive about where the kids are going or whom they are running over. I literally had to jump sideways this week when a tot whirled his vehicle around, right into my path. It was jump or fall right over him, and I was pretty sure hitting the cobblestones would do me a lot more damage than it would him. I hollered, “Prosim!” (please), which his mother totally ignored as she walked right past me and shooed him forward.

The local eateries have put café tables out on the sidewalks, and the street and park benches are full of people soaking up the sun. A few crocuses are peeking their heads through the barren ground. The park behind my apartment has suddenly burst with activity as people enjoy the outdoors. This includes the young—and not so young—lovers, who seem to be on every street corner and doorway, and in the back of each tram. They are, as my dad would have said, “Makin’ whoopee!” I’m no prude but I ask you, Is it safe to make out on an escalator in a department store?

But the biggest change—one I’m fairly sure portends the first thing I won’t like about living in Prague—is the throngs of tourists. There were tourists when I arrived in October and there were lots of them over the Christmas holidays, but now. Oh my, are there tourists! They are everywhere, even on my street, which really isn’t a tourist area at all. On any given day, I wonder if Italy or Spain has closed their doors, because I’m reasonably sure all the Italians and the Spanish are in Prague.

Walking home after work has become a challenge, because the sidewalks are filled with strolling people who obviously have all the time in the world and believe they’ve rented the pavement for the day. The tourist areas of the old city are impossible to maneuver, as I discovered this past Friday when it took me 45 minutes to make a 20-minute walk to my dentist’s office. Local colleagues tell me
that every Praguer who is able to do so leaves Prague in August, because vacationing Germans flood the city. I’ve already started perusing the city map to plan which areas of the suburbs I’ll be discovering for the next six months, as I endeavor to stay clear of the maddening crowds.

Ah Prague, the better to know ye!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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