Tag Archives: students

Prague, Czech Republic Capital, Has It All

Prague Main

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Thanks to The Miami Herald, we learn some of the innermost thoughts of author Lisa Unger. An interview with her is conducted by Andrea Asuaje, who writes on music, fashion, and many other subjects for that paper. Titled “Dark imagination fuels her plots,” this dialogue illuminates Unger’s views. In search of an economical vacation, the author’s family tried out a home exchange, whose success she describes enthusiastically:

In our search for a place to go with our first home exchange, we wound up in Prague. It just turned out to be this amazing experience. I was so inspired by . . . the beauty of it. It’s an amazingly gorgeous place, but one that has a secret heart.

How does this tie in with a column devoted to literary travel? Glad you asked! As a result of that vacation trip, Unger was inspired to set her latest novel, Die For You, in Prague, premier city of the Czech Republic. Not long ago, we noted that this European capitol is one of the Top Ten Party Destinations according to Student Universe. One reason for this popularity is the annual music festival, called Respect, which draws musicians from all over the globe. And of course, as is proper to any old continental urban center, the outlying areas are rife with castles and other scenic delights.

Taking a closer look, we find that it’s also a good place to visit if your major is hospitality, naval technology, or Holocaust reparations. A venerable monastery has just been repurposed into a fine hotel, called the Augustine, in honor of the monks whose former home it was. The US Navy is in negotiations to open a center for technological research in the city, which also recently hosted an international conference devoted to figuring out how to recover Nazi loot and return the stolen property to its rightful owners.

“And,” I hear you ask, “has Kevin Dolgin ever written about Prague?” Of course he has. The travel essay of which we speak is “Kafka’s Erotic Dream: Prague, Czech Republic” and it’s one of the munificent number of similarly captivating pieces found in The Third Tower Up From the Road. He writes about the Charles Bridge (pictured above) and the Sex Machine Museum (not pictured; sorry) and, you’re not going to believe this, but he verifies the impression made by Prague upon suspense novelist Lisa Unger with these shivery words:

It’s a city with a lot of secrets…it’s no wonder Kafka built his tortuous worlds here, and it’s no wonder that the castle of his nightmares bore so many rooms.

Prague Castle

bridge photo courtesy of panorama , used under this Creative Commons license; castle photo courtesy of liber, used under this Creative Commons license

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First in the Hearts of Students: Amsterdam

amsterdam

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

In The Examiner, Tara Entwistle-Clark offers a promising article called “Top 10 European student travel destinations.” On closer examination, these prove to be not the actual preferred destinations of college students, as we had hoped, but suggestions about where to take high-school groups. Entwistle-Clark knows about this because she has successfully led such groups several times. We quote one of her picks here:

Amsterdam’s draw starts with the Red Light District and the coffee shops, but the architecture, history, and people make it worth visiting again and again, even after the original “naughtiness” wears off!

In search of an objective report on the most popular European cities for the late-teens-and-twenties set, the places they are actually buying tickets for, we consulted Student Universe and found this helpful roster of the Top Ten Cheap Destinations:

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Varna, Bulgaria
Budapest, Hungary
Hanoi, Vietnam
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Krakow, Poland
Phuket, Thailand
Santiago, Chile
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Prague, Czech Republic

Not content to rest on our researcher laurels, however, we also retrieved Student Universe’s Top Ten Party Destinations, which are as follows:

Ibiza, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Berlin, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic
Reykjavik, Iceland
London, England
Mykonos, Greece
Ios, Greece
Rome, Italy
Amsterdam, Netherlands

But that’s not all! For your convenience and delectation, we offer here the combined list of European locations both inexpensive to reach and guaranteed to show you a good time once you get there. The chosen few are: Amsterdam. That’s right, only one city made both lists. What does Kevin Dolgin think about Amsterdam? Well, in The Third Tower Up from the Road, he says the food is “resolutely uninteresting” and the people speak “one of the five ugliest languages on the planet (and I say that out of kindness . . . the other four don’t actually come to mind).”

In order to give us an unflinching look at the reality of contemporary Amsterdam, Kevin bravely visited the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum, and also valiantly toured the red-light district, where women cater to the fantasies of men, and reported back, “These fantasies apparently involve heavy older ladies to a much greater degree than one would expect.”

Viva Amsterdam!

P.S. What is your vote for favorite European destination this summer?

photo courtesy of ardenswayoflife , used under this Creative Commons license