Musicians on the Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic (photo by Simone Cannon)
The heartbeat of the city almost always lies within its musical scene: local musicians, buskers, innovators, street dancers. In Buenos Aires, it's the tango dancers who perform for the tourists at the Sunday San Telmo antiques fair; in Rio, its the capoeira performers who practice at local academies, and in Prague, it's the street bands that congregate on the Charles Bridge, playing for tips. Tourists and locals delight in the creativity and spontaneous style of the musicians, who, while working to scratch out a living, add a stratum of joy and lightness to a city with a rich and difficult past.
I visited Prague in July, 2005 with a straight-laced friend from Texas who was scandalized by the Bohemian lifestyle, the easy access to the hallucinogenic liqueur, absinthe, and visits to art museums filled with saintly looking maidens wearing nothing but their smiles...quite a culture shock after her sleepy hometown of Tyler. To her, the Czech Republic gave new meaning to the catchphrase "it's like a whole other country".