always seem to come at the perfect time. Although we had planned this one long before the events of the last few months (something about a baby...maybe a wedding too if i remember right), we couldn't have planned it for a better time. The truth is if we didn't take a vacation now, we probably wouldn't be able to get one like this in for at least a year or so!
Luck...planning..whatever it was...it was perfect timing.
Mel's offered a good recap at her blog...bonus points to whoever notices the main re-occurring theme :)
As nice as amsterdam was, i find Prague a lot more interesting. It's history as a country stuffed between Germany and Russia means that its always been a country that's been viewed as a mere stepping stone to the larger enemy (by both it's neighbors). There's something about communism that i find very fascinating. I suppose it's partly that i grew up in a free (freer) capitalist society and communism seems so foreign. East Berlin was fascinating because of it's WWII history and Prague is fascinating largely because of it's post WWII history.
It wasn't but 20 years ago (21 to be exact) that the locals won their freedom. 20 yrs seems like a long time when i consider my age but in the scheme of things it's only a sliver of time. A fact that's driven home even more so when you watch the videos from 1989 at the communist museum.
Throughout the year various anniversaries were used as an excuse to protest in Wenceslas square (which begins only about 100 meeters from our hotel). Throughout the course of the year the police became increasingly brutal against the peaceful protesters. Plainclothes policeman would routinely drag out "provocateurs" from the crowd to be arrested by the swarms of armed police patrolling the streets.
As 1989 came to an end and it became clear that the winds of change were blowing as far east as Moscow, and after 20 years of rule by a puppet government of the soviet union the Czech parliament, in a pretty bold move, determined to dissolve itself rather than fight on (against the people). Since it's inception 20 yrs earlier over 250k citizens has been imprisoned for anti-state activities.
What amazed me was the video of the secret plain clothes police literally dragging people from the crowd to be arrested. Imagine if you were the guy being drug from the crowd and happened to bump into that same police officer in the square today. That kind of thing must happen all the time here but i can't even imagine how I'd react or how these people deal with that.
I suppose that history has shown us (time and agin) that masses of people can have a pretty high tolerance for a bad situation, but once the tide turns there's really no stopping them.
The velvet revolution came to pass without a single shot fired.
oh, and the re occuring theme in mel's blog? FOOD! and Water Closet's (but that's a whole 'nother story)