prague is a cultural capital

As everyone I’ve ever met – and lots of people I haven’t – already know, I am Full of Feelings. I have so many feelings that I am bloated. I have so many feelings that I am a Danger to Myself and Others. Sometimes I feel so many things at once that I end up with the impression that I feel nothing at all.

My feelings about Prague were very complex when I first moved here. Although a year and a bit of loitering has allowed me to fall in love with the place, I came here feeling like I’d been exiled. I moved here almost directly from St Petersburg, a city which has become a synonym for happiness and fulfilment in my mind. The months I spent in Petersburg were a perfect balance of calmness and excitement, and I was surrounded by people I loved in a superlative sense. If heaven exists, it looks like Kanal Griboyedova.

Anything following such a perfect experience was bound to feel like a heavy landing. My first few months in Prague were full of angst and disappointment, and I felt strangely angry towards the city for not being where I wanted to be. Any similarities between the places only served to aggravate my sense of loss, my feeling that I wasn’t where I should be.

Now, though, I think Prague is a wonderful place in its own right. I’ve learnt to avoid the tourist-choked alleys in Prague 1, to shun Urquell in favour of Falkon, and to jump deftly off the tram just as the ticket inspector gets on. Considering it’s quite a small city, and given so many resources are taken up catering to the influx of tourists, Prague can seem like it doesn’t have that much to offer its disaffected youth (incl. me). Once you break through the surface, though, there’s a lot of cool stuff to do. Here’s a short list of the exciting events I have attended. I hope it’ll help persuade you that Prague is a dope place and – should you need any further convincing – I am an interesting person with a lot going on in my life.

roof cinema

If you’re a fan of beautiful buildings, Prague has a few. The skyline in Old Town looks like it’s been peeled out of a book of fairytales, and I love Žižkov Tower so much I had it permanently etched onto my skin. One of my favourite functional monstrosities is Veletržní Palác, the trade hall turned art gallery in Holešovice. It will always hold a special place to me because the cafe on the ground floor is where I first learnt why baristas slam cups down after they’ve poured milk in.

It’s to get rid of bubbles.

During the summer months, when the thought of sitting in a dark room with strangers is unpalatable, the good people at V.P. host regular film screenings on the roof of the gallery. It’s a really cool experience, and has been a great way for me to lay my peepers on more classic Czech films. It works especially well for me, since I’m largely nocturnal and the films are played at night to circumvent the horrible bother that is the Sun.

Sadly, the films are largely projected without English subtitles, making this a somewhat inaccessible experience for people who haven’t wrapped their heads around Czech. My aural skills are almost as poor as my oral skills, but I’m too proud to admit that I don’t know what the fuck is going on most of the time. In life, as in Czech cinema.

soap factory rave

Raves, as well as the people who go to them, are inherently cool. That is what I tell myself every Monday as I root around in my sofa cushions looking for enough change to make rent, having spunked my paycheque and charitable donations on entry to a dark, sweaty room full of people I would hate if I spent the time getting to know them.

Even cooler than your classic rave, though, are raves held in weird places. Ex flour mills and retired battleships make for super places to listen to electronic music – this is a documented fact. My favourite club in Prague is located in an former soap factory in the industrial side of town. It’s got sick East Berlin vibes.

bar/bike shop haircut

If there’s one thing I love, it’s when businesses smash concepts together until they end up with a USP. My second favourite bar in Petersburg was a combination of a laundrette and a beer bar.

Prague isn’t without its own strange businesses: I get my haircut by nomadic professionals at a bar-cum-bike shop. Every time I go, I gaze into the mirror as the lady shaves my head and reflect on what a cool person I am.

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