August 25, 2019

"Eugen Kukla could not have made his feelings clearer as 120 drunken tourists thronged noisily past his home around midnight, rudely breaking the silence of a normally sedate city-centre residential street."

"'Fuck pub crawls, fuck pub crawls,' he repeated over and over again, while filming the scene on his smart phone. Some of the crowd reacted in amusement, smiling and waving into the camera. But Kukla, 55, a photojournalist, did not see the joke. 'It’s an expression of my personal feelings, a buildup of frustration over a long period of time, years and years and years,' he said.... [A] rising tide of visitors has flooded in, up from 2.62 million in the year 2000, to just under 8 million last year.... The trend is transforming Prague and risks pushing out long-term inhabitants of the city centre – historically considered a residential district – and turning it into a tourist-only zone.... The signs of such tourist-driven commercialisation are everywhere, seen in the spread of cheap souvenir shops, massage parlours painted in out-of-place garish colours – an example of what officials denounce as 'visual smog' – and the dancers in giant panda suits that proliferate in Old Town Square.... Also notorious are walking tours in Malá Strana, near Prague castle, which often culminate in visits to the Lennon Wall, a famous protest site during communist times that has since become a place of free expression for would-be graffiti artists, but is now being defaced with mindless spraying done at the urging of guides.... Tourists were pictured clambering on to outsize statues of babies designed by the Czech artist David Černý in Kampa Park and pouring beer into the mouths of two male figurines in the courtyard of the Franz Kafka museum...."

From "The fall of Prague: ‘Drunk tourists are acting like they’ve conquered our city’/As the Czech Republic capital launches a crackdown, the Observer joins one of the organised pub crawls that are blighting residents’ lives" (The Guardian).

58 comments:

Michael K said...

Does the Guardian ever worry about Muslim stabbing incidents or is it all about those other people?

I was in a Czech cafe in Vienna back in 1988 before the Wall came down and you could not see anything for the smoke. Damn Czechs !

Temujin said...

Damn. I was supposed to go there for vacation about 6 years ago. Had to cancel out. Now it appears to be too late. It's become Touristized.

I've heard its a wonderful city. Too bad this has gotten out of hand. Every place that gets popular with a certain crowd turns into a pub crawl.

Bay Area Guy said...

I would definitely go drinking in Prague. But I doubt I'd do the Pub Crawl. Too crowded and that's for young folks.

Sebastian said...

Hmm. So they hate the unbearable density of tourists.

gilbar said...

a place of free expression for would-be graffiti artists, but is now being defaced with mindless spraying done at the urging of guides....

This is a REAL Problem!
These walls were SUPPOSED TO BE for people with spray cans to mark up
But now they are being used by people with spray cans to mark them up

Darrell said...

Wow!
Who knew neighborhoods could change over time. This must be the first time this has ever happened!

gilbar said...

oh wait!
I got it! I got it!
Prague. Nobody goes there anymore; it's Too Crowded

gilbar said...

Darrell correctly points out...
Who knew neighborhoods could change over time. This must be the first time this has ever happened!


Wrigleyville USED TO BE a neighborhood; where people lived.... Before everybody moved there

Narr said...

Oh f*** s***! We'll be there in November . . . maybe the weather will discourage the riffraff.

Narr
One lives in hope

Fernandistein said...

Why, exactly, residents curse while filming scenes on their smart phones after human activity as mellow as pub crawls is not entirely clear. Some likely anguish because their mothers, startled by passing humans, run too far away for the residents to catch up, weakening the them and making them more susceptible to starvation or predation from Roma or Russians.

bagoh20 said...

Go ahead people. Keep ignoring the disasterous effects of climate change. This is what we will be getting more of.

Ann Althouse said...

Shame deniers think they are interacting with the locals, but the locals feel damaged by the interaction. There is no genuine encounter. The shame-denying travels could find a less crowded place and maybe the locals would act nice instead of shouting "Fuck you!" at them but that wouldn't be a genuine encounter either.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

"Eugen Kukla could not have made his feelings clearer..."

What about Fran and Ollie, any thoughts from them?

stevew said...

You should see the lines of tourists at Mike's Pastry in the North End on summer Sundays. We don't yell at them, just cut them in line.

Plenty of noisy drunks throughout the summer. So long as you live on a side street it's ok, except for the occasional passed out drunk and puke on the stoop in the morning.

RK said...

The elk story from The Guardian is obviously fake news, so maybe this is too.

Michael K said...

Blogger NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...
"Eugen Kukla could not have made his feelings clearer..."

What about Fran and Ollie, any thoughts from them?


My first thought on seeing this.

tcrosse said...

A Czech guide advised me that central Prague is best seen in early morning, before the crowds hid the Charles Bridge, the Castle, or Old Town Square. Last time I hit Prague was a Sunday evening in late October and the place was jumping.

dustbunny said...

Not fake news. We were there last spring (Prague Spring!) and it was worse than Disneyland. The city center is beautifully preserved but too small for all the tourists. Sad as it is an extraordinary place.

buwaya said...

Winter in Teruel.
No crowds.

Wince said...

'Fuck pub crawls, fuck pub crawls,' he repeated over and over again...

Coincidently, a bar named Blondies, said to be "indicative of the ‘snowballing’ trade of pub tours" is pictured in the article.

Skookum John said...

I was in Prague last year. It was definitely a mob scene in the area bounded by Prague Castle and the cathedral, especially on the Charles Bridge connecting them. I enjoyed the Budapest and Kraków city centers more. Still bustling, but did not give me the feeling I was in a herd of cattle.

Elsewhere in the the Prague metro area and the rest of Czechia, there is no shortage of interesting museums, beautiful churches, historic castles, excellent restaurants, and fun things to do. Prices are more modest, too. They have the best and cheapest beer in Europe.

When I go back there, I will spend a lot more time in smaller cities and country villages. The countryside is beautiful and needs the tourist business more than Prague. The Czechs are much more prosperous than they used to be but it still is not a wealthy country.

rcocean said...

Spain used to have a "Ugly Briton" problem with Brits getting drunk, taking their clothes, and being rowdy in Spain. The Daily Mail had a story had a story on it every year. Don't know if its gotten better, or no one cares.

Most of Prague's visitors are Europeans, Russians, and Brits. So good luck with keeping the numbers down. Personally, I wouldn't go to Europe just to see Architecture and drink Beer. But that's me.

Seeing Red said...

It’s a shame Prague is suffering from prosperity and success.

It was much better off under that wonderful socialism.


jaydub said...

"Shame deniers think they are interacting with the locals, but the locals feel damaged by the interaction. There is no genuine encounter. The shame-denying travels could find a less crowded place and maybe the locals would act nice instead of shouting "Fuck you!" at them but that wouldn't be a genuine encounter either."

How would you know? You don't travel, hence you don't interact with the locals or know how they feel or have a basis for evaluating whether it's genuine. I have and I do, and more often than not it's voluntary on the part of and beneficial to both parties. Taking one anecdote that conforms to your prejudices and generalizing it to cover the travel universe is unconvincing. Moreover, taking issues that arise in an overcrowded tourist mecca like Prague and assuming those are also applicable to such Czech cites as Brno, Pilsen or Czeske Budejovice is a serious overreach. Your prejudices just don't hold up. It's like you going down to the local Madison cafe and thinking that the person who is waiting on you is suppose to relate on a personal level instead of just getting you a cup of coffee. That doesn't necessarily work in Madison and it doesn't necessarily work in Prague, but I will guarantee that if you always stayed home it could never work at all. I have friends who live in all parts of the world, and I didn't meet any of them at home.

Jim said...

This means the prices are too low. Raise prices until you get the crowd size you want.

Seeing Red said...

July 4, 1982 I was in Prague.

14 years after the crushing of liberation by the jackboot Commies. Hungary adapted from their ‘56 attempt. It was colorful and vibrant, considering. I wasn’t used to armed soldiers coming in to close down pubs at the bewitching hour.

Prague, to me, was dark. And they knew we were Americans.

Bill Peschel said...

Is this another case of the 80 percent of all tourists visiting the 20 percent of wonderful places?

I can sympathize with the guy. When I went to Chapel Hill, downtown was crowded with student drinkers (no prize for guessing how long ago this way). It's no fun to be woken up at night with screaming, cursing, and the site of kids pissing in your yard.

Now I live in Hershey, where I can step outside and listen to Kiss playing in a stadium a mile away. Or sit inside my house and get some of the music. On the other hand, we have nice restaurants, the amusement park is fun and I got to see Weird Al when he came through at the local theatre (a gift of Milton Hershey to his workers).

Long as I stay away from downtown during the summer weekend, I can handle this.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Too many people on the planet.

Ann Althouse said...

“What about Fran and Ollie, any thoughts from them?”

Lol

I almost said something like that in the post.

Ann Althouse said...

@jaydub

I note that you claimed expertise but gave no examples of the genuine encounters with locals you’ve had on your travels to wherever.

You make a false statement about me. I have traveled over the years and that’s the basis of my belief that traveling in a tourist way doesn’t get you to genuine encounters of a positive, soul satisfying kind. But I concede that I always protected myself and did not expose myself to physical vulnerability and didn’t not seek intimacy with foreign strangers.

Mark said...

Was recently in France for two weeks and it was a chore trying to find restaurants that served authentic food and not tourist food. And, sadly, even some of the authentic local food has become Americanized.

Consequently, bought more than a few meals from the Carrefour grocery store. Bonus - a baguette was less than a euro and a bottle of wine that would cost $40 here sold for less than five euro in the grocery store.

Mark said...

Of course, when I was walking near Gare de Lyon on a Thursday at 11 p.m., all the cafes were packed with people. Not tourists, but local Parisians.

Big Bird said...

Seems like there are a lot of negative articles about traveling in the media lately. Some variation on how crowded certain places are, or how disappointing it is once you get there, But even if you choose to spend your leisure time taking a hike in the woods, you’re made to feel guilty for causing death to baby elk.

The Puritans were a fun loving bunch compared to these guys.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I've heard its a wonderful city. Too bad this has gotten out of hand.

I was in Prague in February 2018 and didn't see anything like what is described in the article. The people were friendly, we (my wife and I) checked out a couple of castles, walked about the city. Did a river cruise/wine tasting. Sampled some craft beers.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Bonus - a baguette was less than a euro and a bottle of wine that would cost $40 here sold for less than five euro in the grocery store.

When my wife and I are in Europe we make a point of hitting the local markets for meals occasionally, instead of going to a restaurant. And finding good, inexpensive wines is one of the biggest thrills.

Michael K said...

My one regret in traveling was that, when we were in Vienna in 1988, we did not go to Budapest and Prague. I didn't know it could be done and it was apparently easy.

Kevin said...

He's lucky. If they were homeless people camping and shitting on the sidewalk outside his house, he'd be called insensitive.

Or worse.

Kevin said...

The elk story from The Guardian is obviously fake news, so maybe this is too.

Are there any Elk left in Prague?

Because they could have combined those stories into a two-fer.

reader said...

Prague isn’t so special. https://www.gadventures.com/blog/mardi-gras-101-travel/

When you think of New Orleans, plenty of things might immediately come to mind: amazing food, live music, and Mardi Gras. The annual celebration, which takes place for around two weeks ahead of Shrove Tuesday (the day before the beginning of Catholic Lent), is a bevvy of parades, parties, and performances that culminates in one final, giant parade on Shrove Tuesday — a.k.a. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French. It's a lot of fun — and a lot goes into it. Here's a quick look at New Orleans' annual Mardi Gras celebrations, by the numbers:

0: Number of people riding on floats during Mardi Gras parades who can be unmasked; float-riding without a mask on is actually against the law

$5.72: The average price of a Mardi Gras mask, in USD, according to kesq.com

10.4 million: Number of visitors to New Orleans during Mardi Gras in 2016 — the first time the city was able to reach its pre-Katrina tourism numbers.

2,000: Approximate number of Mardi Gras parades that have taken place in New Orleans since 1857

500,000: The average number of King Cakes — large, yeasted cakes covered in green, purple, and gold frosting, that conceal a tiny plastic baby — sold during Mardi Gras each year

$200,000: Amount, in U.S. dollars, that the most expensive Mardi Gras float costs

$164 billion: Total amount, in U.S. dollars, of the direct impact that Mardi Gras has on the New Orleans economy

90-95%: Percentage of hotel rooms in New Orleans that are booked a month ahead of Mardi Gras

Quayle said...

Visited Prague a number of times a year back in the early 90s. It was beautiful and up-and-coming. Was just there last April again. It was mobbed and graffitied and not very interesting. One of the tour guides in a little evening outing we took as a group told us that it was cheap beer and cheap women ( i.e. prostitutes ) that was making progress such an attraction.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

Althouse to @jaydub

I note that you claimed expertise but gave no examples of the genuine encounters with locals you’ve had on your travels to wherever.

Of course not, Althouse. Of course he's lying. Nobody has ever had any worthwhile experiences with furriners in furriner-land. Everybody who says they have is lying to himself. It's all false consciousness, and you're on to them!

You make a false statement about me. I have traveled over the years and that’s the basis of my belief that traveling in a tourist way doesn’t get you to genuine encounters of a positive, soul satisfying kind.

What does that even mean? I think you're rationalizing your own fear of Johnny Foreigner and the possibility of having to communicate in his scary alien jabber by setting up an impossible standard for deriving pleasure from travel.

Sure, it's even better to have the means and the leisure to be able to get up on the language and get deeper into the country than to go on a 10-day tour with an English-speaking guide. (And btw, when you do have the good fortune to be able to do the former, *you're still a tourist*.) Good things aren't "not good" because there are things that are better.

No, when doing the former your tour guide and the locals you meet are not going to be your new BFFs. You're not going to be "intimate" with them. You're not going to "know" their country at anything but the most superficial level. But they're still worth talking to, and the things you see are still worth seeing. If you're not a complete stone (or paranoid chicken-shit) you're going to learn something you didn't know before about a place and its people.

Of course I prefer the "deeper dive". I've had the good fortune to be able to do that. But I find the horror of the shorter, affordable "package tour" travel more within the reach of most people to be ridiculous, and not a little nasty. People actually really enjoy those shitty little package tours you look down on. (I know, because I took one once - not just a package tour, but a *cheap* package tour. I had three weeks, just so much money, and only as much Greek and Turkish as I could pick up from the Pimsleur CDs available at the local public library. I was delighted by everything I saw, and every opportunity to stumble around around in a strange tongue (and sometimes, magically, even make myself understood!).

But I concede that I always protected myself and did not expose myself to physical vulnerability and didn’t not seek intimacy with foreign strangers.

Oh good grief. As if there aren't perfectly safe (at least as safe as home) countries well worth visiting where one can easily get away from the main tourist spots without some unacceptable level of risk.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

I wonder what percentage of the obnoxious drunks in Prague and Budapest are British tourists? The article doesn't say, just giving tourist numbers by nation. But it does quote a Budapest official citing "two budget flights arriving from London everyday" when discussing the problem.

They do seem to have the worst reputation for that sort of thing everywhere in Europe.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

me: No, when doing the former...

Correction, doing the latter...

Bilwick said...

Fran and Ollie could not be reached for comment.

Ray - SoCal said...

Beer was great.

E bike tour was a must to see the city, with the hills.

War museum was interesting- they have a t34 at the front.

jaydub said...

AA "I note that you claimed expertise but gave no examples of the genuine encounters with locals you’ve had on your travels to wherever."

- We have friends in Steinach, Switzerland who live on the Bodensee and whom we met while in St Gallen 15 years ago. They visited us in Spain several times and we have visited them in Steinach and at their condo near Davos. We met in a restaurant when my wife struck up a conversation with the lady, and we all connected instantly.
- Some of my best friends live in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain - one is Welsh, one Scottish, one British and a number Spanish. We met them at various events around Cadiz Province, except for the Scotsman who owns the local Molly Malone pub and we met when he stepped on my hand as I lay under a bar stool one night.
- I have several friends in Slovenia (Ljubljana and Novo Mesto) who we met in Dubrovnic a few years ago and then visited in Novo Mesto a couple of years later. They introduced us to more Slovenes when we visited, and now we know about a dozen there. Last year three came to Spain to visit us.
- We have a number of friends just East of Berlin where my wife's great grandfather was from. We met them while my wife was doing genealogy research in Koenigs-Wusterhausen. The friendship grew out of the discovery that one of them was also researching the same ancestor. Turns out they were fourth cousins and things built from there. We have travel extensively with them in what was the former East Germany.
- We still have a number of Japanese friends from my time working in Japan 27 years ago - some were neighbors, some I knew through work and some I met socially at Japan-American events.
- Two years ago we were staying in a small boutique hotel outside Sarlat-la-Caneda, France while we were exploring the Dordogne Valley. We struck up a friendship with the hotel owner while we were drinking wine with him on the hotel's terrace. We still keep in touch and he says he and his wife intend to visit us in the US. I hope they do.
- We met an Australian couple on a Baltic cruise three years ago who still correspond and who have invited us to visit next year in Perth. We will.
- We have made other friends in Great Britain, Scotland, Italy, Morocco, Denmark and Austria to name a few countries where we have traveled in the last few years. This is not hard - I don't know how one avoids making friends with new people or at least acquaintances if you are laying by a pool with them, sitting with them in a bar or dining with them every night on a seven day cruise. Most people are naturally friendly - exceptions being older Spaniards (the Franco effect), Russians or (sometimes) the Swiss. They don't mean anything by it, it just takes more time to break the ice.

I could go on, but you get the drift. We don't meet people or develop friendships in tourist spots, we meet them in various ways where they live or where our paths cross while we were traveling or in the local area overseas where we lived. While I am a little more reserved, my wife has never met a stranger, and people naturally take to her, so I owe much of my success in meeting people to her. Regardless, you can't travel as much as we do (22 countries, 125 cities, villages and towns in the last five years while we were living in Spain) and not meet people and not develop friendships without being a complete introvert.

I made the statement I did about your knowledge of foreign travel based on your comments in various posts where you trashed travel, particularly to places that requires getting on an airplane. If I misconstrued your comments, I apologize.

tcrosse said...

Fran and Ollie could not be reached for comment.

Nor Madame Ovalpuss or Mercedes the Rabbit.
Burr Tillstrom created his first puppet, a clown character who would be named Kukla following an encounter with a Russian ballerina, in 1936. His troupe of "Kuklapolitans" expanded in 1938 to include Oliver J. Dragon ("Ollie").

Ralph L said...

If a couple of drunk tourists "fell" out of upper-story windows every year, it might discourage some of the mobs and the drinking.

tcrosse said...

If a couple of drunk tourists "fell" out of upper-story windows every year, it might discourage some of the mobs and the drinking.

Prague has a fine old tradition of defenestration. It would be wise not to stand too close to the windows.

Earnest Prole said...

There's a word for a person who buys a house next to a school and then complains that children make a lot of noise: Fool.

Jupiter said...

Nothing a boatload of Muslims couldn't fix.

Ambrose said...

In another European era the roving bands of drunk tourists would have been mercenary soldiers.

Phidippus said...

People should be polite, and try to respect the local customs when they visit foreign countries. (Sometimes, this could involve researching a bit ahead of time about what the local customs are. You know, just to be sure, in case they're not the same as your country's.) You are a guest, you know. (I don't have to explain that, right?)

This seems simple enough. How come so many people don't know it?

Separately, I missed all the exciting action that led up to the extensive to and fro between Our Hostess and certain Commenters, above.

That's fine. It's bedtime for me, and I've had plenty of excitement today already.

Josephbleau said...


Is this another case of the 80 percent of all tourists visiting the 20 percent of wonderful places?


More like the case where 80 pct of the high school girls have sex with 5 pct of the high school boys.

Heartless Aztec said...

Honest Guide on You Tube. The best.

NEO-FIDO said...

Been there. No citizen likes their home to become a theme park. It is pretty bad.

NEO-FIDO said...

I wonder what percentage of the obnoxious drunks in Prague and Budapest are British tourists? The article doesn't say, just giving tourist numbers by nation. But it does quote a Budapest official citing "two budget flights arriving from London everyday" when discussing the problem.

They do seem to have the worst reputation for that sort of thing everywhere in Europe.


Anecdote:

A group of drunken Brits was at...I believe Gatwick on their way to Prague. They were beyond even English levels of drunkenness and obnoxiousness and were told they could not board. They started picking up the pillars with the cloth bands which make aisles and started swinging them around to break things up.

The police were called and the flight was delayed three hours.

Just the kind of people I want in my country. Was the 100 Years War an actual war or just a royal pub crawl?

Narr said...

It has been observed that the British Empire was successful in part because the "Fagocracy"* was able to unleash their godawful pugly and ugnacious lower classes on people overseas. I think there's truth in that, and a useful cultural frame.

As I re-read the story, it was a midnight pub-crawl . . . I'd be P.O.'d too. We live only ten houses away from the house Elvis owned before Graceland, and I love seeing the visitors in cars and tour buses up there--the streets are such that we don't get the traffic on ours; if I lived close by it would bother me some (it apparently did and does). But all the mass pilgrimage is at Graceland and that's a whole different area.

And EP attracts a better class of Brit tourists.

Narr
*Archie Bunker