Postcard Pick: Prague’s Astronomical Clock

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When I visited Prague back in 2012, I paid a visit to one of the city’s most revered sights — the Astronomical Clock. The clock was created in 1410 and for centuries was considered a technological marvel.

Prague is a city of many legends and one story claims that when the Astronomical Clock was finished being made, the city councillors were so impressed with it that they did not want the clockmaster to create an identical clock for another city. So, that night they had the clockmaster blinded. In turn, the clockmaster managed to fumble his way back to the clock and break it. This damage led to it not working for a hundred years.

Whatever, the legend – the clock in Prague is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. It is mounted on the Old Town Hall, where today it is a constant attraction for visitors. Large crowds of tourists gather around the clock every hour to watch the mechanical show that occurs. Essentially, the figurines move and “dance” when the clock strikes the hour. However, the locals seem to be less than impressed with the show. I was told that Praguers like to watch the tourists from the other side of the square and see the looks of disappointment and anticlimactic realization of those watching the show. What was considered a wonder of the world during the Middle Ages doesn’t hold up to modern day standards.

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Postcard Pick: The Streets of Madrid

These are actual postcards I picked up in a small shop in Madrid two years ago. While I do favor picture postcards, these are unique in my collection as they feature the atmosphere and life of Madrid instead of a grand building or landscape. That is what made these the perfect souvenir. Madrid is not about larger than life architecture and must-see tourist attractions but about the attitude of the city and its people. Spain itself is very laid back and buzzing with energy, yet it’s particular history both during WWII and the Franco dictatorship afterwards has made it seem slightly more isolated than other countries in Europe. For instance, Madrid is filled with ex-pats, yet you will be more hard pressed in this European capitol to find locals that speak another language compared to it’s neighboring nations.  History is contentious here and you are reminded that while the rest of the world was fighting each other during WWII, Spain was undergoing a brutal civil war which has never been fully reconciled among its citizens. All of this makes Madrid a particularly different type of city to visit. It is one of experience, rather than sights and a history full of debate rather than certainty. But, one thing is for sure, you will not find any other place like it.

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Art of Edinburgh

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This is probably one of my favorite postcards ever. I found it at a print shop on Cowsgate in Edinburgh. This is the Bank of Scotland and it was the only postcard they had left. The store informed me that they used to have many other postcards like it but they stopped producing them because tourists only bought the postcards rather than the prints themselves. However, I did pick up a print of Calton Hill in addition to this.