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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 13. September 24, 1947

Impressions of Europe

Impressions of Europe

Prague, which is by way of becoming the capital of central Europe, is a clean, handsome city, a real source of pride for its inhabitants. It spreads over the hills on each bank of the Vltava, which flows and winds under numerous beautiful bridges, past 11th century towers, post the great castles and cathedral, past the magnificent palaces of Hungarian nobles (these Baroque masterpieces, covered with fine tracery, little statues and enormous windows, are now mostly office buildings) and past several excellent modern night clubs. The whole of the city is very gay with bunting, ostensibly for the Youth Festival, but I suspect that the Czechs like flags for their own sake. They certainly like singing, for we often heard squads of soldiers singing lustily and harmoniously as they marched down the street.

For a short visit, and having my meals provided it was difficult to judge the standard of life of the Czechs. Prices seemed about two-thirds of English prices, and I am told wages are about half of purs. There seemed to be bread, and some meat, and a little milk, but scarcely any fata. The only fruits were plums and pears, and vegetables were not prolific. I think the food situation must be rather difficult, but I saw no sign of a black market. At all events, Czech beer is wonderfully cheap and wonderfully good, while cigarettes are expensive and nasty.

The best shops in Prague are the booksellers which constitute about one in five of all the shops, and stock everything, either in translation or original. Newspaper stalls, too, are on every corner. I can't tell you much of what was in them, as I did not have time to train a pet interpreter, but I gathered that they were by no means one-sided in their views. Even in the suburbs I could buy any of the previous day's English dailies, from the "Telegraph" to the "Worker," which contrasted with Paris, where the only daily English paper you could buy, except at the Railway Stations, was the "Continental Daily Mail. From conversations, and political posters and cartoons, Czech political life seems very active, and united only in bitter hate for the Germans.