Sunday, November 20, 2016

the best tour of Prague isn't actually a tour

The hordes of Chinese sweep past, followed by the Russians, the Americans, the British. Gobs of single-ethnicity armies positioning themselves for better sights, better shots, each led by some embittered Czech, or expat perhaps, holding an umbrella high in the air, waving it around in circles, marshalling them onward, onward, onward! And they follow, mindlessly, thoughtlessly, carelessly, those lagging behind scoped out by the derelicts and ne’er-do-wells, hiding in the corners and near the beer stands of Vaclav Square. Up Na Prikope, past, around, down Myslbek, or any other nameless alleyway, towering sentinels of Baroque and neo-Romanesque and gargoyles and angels leering down at the masses. In a group one can never be truly in the city, bound by the authorities of the tour leader. You can’t linger long, you can’t skip through what’s interesting, you're bound. 

There, behind the trdelnik stand, lurks a ne'er do well

You're bound by the umbrella. The Segway. The bicycle. There are naturally benefits to any tour, but the real adventurer, those like myself, mock such contrivances. I will not be hedged in. I will not be defeated in my conquering of the city. But I do hours of reading; reading tour guides, history books, Wikipedia, whatever I can do to discover the city in advance, though I still manage to miss a lot.

There is another way though.

A couple of months ago, someone sent me an email from the contact page on my main site. They were working for a new startup.

Old Town Square in Prague. Don't buy beer in a café here, but in the street.
Just in the same way a museum has an audioguide, they were working on developing audioguides for cities. What are cities but great big outdoor museums anyway?

And wouldn’t I like to write and record an audio tour for Prague?

Why not? 

One that let's people follow along at their own pace, stopping when they want to stop, lingering when they want to linger? And even they can stop and wander off midway through and pick it up the next day?

One of the best views in Prague, 360 degrees around.
The route I chose wasn’t anything edgy. Just the route that I would want, first coming in to Prague. The King’s Road. The old coronation trail that the Bohemian Kings followed down, from one end of old town, through the old main road, across the medieval bridge, and up to the Castle. And the Castle is not necessarily something easy to find. So, I spent some time researching the more notable things and then set to work.

The process initially took a long time. I had to first mark the places on a map to coordinate the GPS triggers, and then write about each place. Their editor would then add a few notes, or question for clarity. Then back to me and then finally, after another approval, it would be ready for my sweet and sultry voice to vibe it out on the ribbon of the mic.

And there you have it, the final product.

Charles' Bridge
Now you too can have a super cheap audio tour from yours truly, guiding you through the Prague old town, telling you where not to get beers, where you can buy the best trdelnik, and find one of the best views of the city. And it’s like I’m right here with you.

It’s a brilliant concept really, and after trying it myself, I’d have to admit that my tour is awesome and highly recommended by the most trustworthy of judges of my work. And you'll lose 30 pounds and get a million dollars in a month. I promise.

Now, when I have guests, instead of giving them a personal tour for the thirtieth time (for me, not them), I can just have them download this excellent piece of bohemian Bohemian guiding.

And it’s all available just below. Along with some other off-the-beaten track routes in Prague, and other tours in cities across the globe. Bonus points are that you don’t even have to be there to do the tour. Instead you can just listen to the whole thing from the comfort of your home like a true armchair adventurer. There's no shame in that.

Here it is:
And welcome to Prague. Or not. Maybe even welcome to your armchair. But either way, you should grab a beer and send a "na zdraviye" my way. 

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