Greetings from Prague
Good King Wenceslas went down... It must be the same guy, though here in the heart of Europe he is referred to as Saint Wenceslas. My hotel sits along a wide street with a park down the middle called Wenceslas Square. Half the names contain an extra "Z" just to make sure only Czech people can pronounce them.
The keyboard is another little challenge. When ever I want to type a standard quote mark (") I have to make sure it isn't followed by certain letters, like "i" for example. Not as confusing as the Turkish keyboards last year, but disconcerting never the less.
BTW, I discovered that every time someone joins OFOTO while looking at my pictures online, not only do they get 25 free prints, but they give me another 10 free prints. I don't really need prints under present conditions, but when I get back they might come in handy. I chose OFOTO after a long and careful evaluation, so you could do worse.
I have been trying to find a cyber café with a machine featuring USB ports to accommodate my digital camera input, but to no avail as yet. Maybe I'll have better luck in Istanbul. The batteries only last about 2 weeks before the memory dies along with all the pictures I have taken... in this case street scenes of Prague.
My Prague pictures are mostly of gray things and of course I bypassed most of the major tourist attractions. This city in the winter lacks most of the color we see in promotional tourist photos. Still, the hundreds of dark colored stone statues dusted by new snow has a unique beauty of its own; the edges of the snow layer blend into the gray haze making the figures seem to float in a way unseen in the bright light of Summer. I must admit the professional pictures always look better than anything I can capture. Still, personal photos create a record of time and place guaranteed to jog my memory back to the original unlike any glamorous postcard photos.
Prague is both like and unlike every other major city in the world. Quaint narrow streets give the old town a charm that sets it apart from other places I've visited. There are SO MANY old buildings, some dating back to the 16th century!
They call this part of the world Bohemia. It looks a lot like the U.S. in the 1960's to me; the hippy scene all over again. The kids wear rings through extra holes in their bodies in every imaginable place... not that different from what one might see on the streets of Santa Barbara these days, though.
Cell phone mania is sweeping the world. They are everywhere. Probably one out of every twenty people on the street carry one against their ear as they chat away oblivious to the turmoil around them. By my rough count at least half the people here in Prague own a cell phone.
I'm still working out the bugs in the Yahoo.com address system and still finding a few bad e-mail addresses. I hope everyone who wanted to follow my wanderings is still on the postcard list. If you know of a mutual friend who has not gotten this message and would like to see my chronicles, have them send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to add them to the list.
I have no pictures for this postcard yet, but I'll add them later when I have a chance to download the contents of the Pencam.
'Til next time,
Fred 25 January 2001
More about Prague.
What a challenge! Getting the pictures out of the PenCam digital camera has been one disappointment after another. Most Internet cafes I've visited in both the Czech Republic and Turkey have not had USB support. Those that did had flaky connectivity. Eventually, I did find the Taksim Internet Cafe here in Istanbul that permitted me to get the pictures off the camera and uploaded to ofoto.com. I'll save the gory details for my computer crazy friends, but it did test my patience and perseverance.
I also have some shots taken here in Istanbul and the camera is again full. The only problem is that the Taksim Internet Cafe promptly erased all the software I had spent three and a half hours setting up to deal with the camera! So, the camera goes with me to Ankara and Konya where I plan to spend a week or two. Hopefully, during that time I'll get the Istanbul postcard finished and be able to include some or all of the pictures. I've also got two rolls of 35mm film on the way to ofoto.com for processing and posting on the net.
I am beginning to appreciate what the pioneers faced as they traveled into the uncharted West of early America. Very stimulating. Very frustrating.
Enjoy and marvel that you are a part of history being made. Photography will never be the same once this technique of handling pictures eventually is perfected. I have NO DOUBT that it will! Mark my work: you heard it here first.