This is a guest post by Peter Korchnak, who writes American Robotnik. I met him via one of the comments on Czechmate Diary and he immediately struck me as a great writer. Little did I know that he was born and raised in Slovakia and English is his second language!
“I’ve been to Prague,” is the most frequent response I hear when I tell Americans I’m from Slovakia (“Where is that?” and “Czechoslovakia?” are close behind). Prague looms large in many people’s imagination, and every time I hear the sentence, I think of ‘my Prague’ and the layers upon layers of memories the city conjures.
The Velvet Prague
I visited Prague for the first time when I was 12 1/2, with my parents in the summer of 1989. Every day of that week-long stay, I experienced the peculiar feeling you get when you see places you previously only saw on TV. Trip photos show me standing up straight, alert like a good pioneer, under the statue of my new hero King Charles IV, at the opposite end of Charles Bridge, under the entrance of the St. Vitus Cathedral, in front of the polar bear exhibit at the Zoo…
In November and December that year, Prague repaid the visit when footage of the Velvet Revolution demonstrations glued me to the TV screen. As I struggled to comprehend what was going on, I learned the names of my new heroes: Václav Havel, Alexander Dubček, Karel Kryl… I tried to identify the places I’d visited the previous summer as they filled with throngs that jingled keys and chanted, “Our hands are bare!” [click to continue…]
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