Prague's sidewalks - no place for a farm girl in high heels!


Not only does summer bring smog and sweaty trams to Prague, it also sees the return of women in open-toed high-heels tettering across cobblestones.

Growing up on a farm I lived in a sidewalk-less world. Walking was a novel idea - romantic, meditative, sexy. There was no place for people to walk! As a kid I dreamt of sidewalks - long, smooth stretches of concrete for walking, especially to get somewhere. So you may no surprised that when I first came to the Czech Republic six years ago, I was thrilled to find sidewalks!

I soon discovered walking on sidewalks is an art. While I'd gotten blisters from new shoes, I didn't know feet could get hurt from walking. I spent summers outside with no shoes and winters in snow boots. The first summer I spent in Prague with a new pair of sandals left me scarred for life! One day last week I set out for Radio Prague up the hill from Smichov wearing lady shoes. By lady shoes I mean dainty sandals with a bit of a heel and hardly any sole. After all I know how to gauge for potential blisters and the tolerable height of a heel, as buying a pair of heels is no amateur sport, and I am a connoisseur of shoes. But after a few steps I realized a few years away from Prague, and I'd lost the art of navigating Czech sidewalks.

Wenceslas Square
I'd forgotten that lady shoes only have a place on cobblestones when they're on a lady, and I am no lady. I am a farm girl in a lady's body. I don't know how to walk in heels let alone heels on cobblestones! By the time my twenty-minute walk had been stretched to forty-five minutes, I had blisters on both the tops and bottoms of my feet! And after the pain wore off it took me back to recent thoughts of why Czechs stick so close to public transportation. Of course public transport in this country is affordable but I have friends who take the tram two stops! A crazy concept for me, walking's easier! But blisters refreshed my memory! Czechs know how to judge their sidewalks!

Big, old cobblestones are slippery with wear and rushing down Wenceslas Square can be a dangerous adventure regardless of the shoes. It may seem obvious to avoid tourists and make a clear shot down the middle but the grade of the slant is greater and requires additional attention. The newer and smaller grey cobblestones tend to be tolerable, their downfall is of course that they have not been walked on for years, and if you're sensitive to detail each bump can be a painful jolt. Crossing streets where the tram goes is dangerous, as each track is a death wish for a heel, not to mention the potential of getting a heel stuck in traffic!

So I've turned in my lady shoes, and the last few days I've been walking around with a smile. I may not be a lady with high-heels but I don't have to take the tram unless I want to. Most of all I'm smiling because I walk everywhere practicing the art of navigating Czech sidewalks. Even though I've gotten use to living in a world with sidewalks, they'll never cease to excite me!