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So, HuffPo, which is it: Meh or must see?

in Travel

Huffington Post names Prague Europe’s Prettiest City four days after calling it ‘meh’

It seems like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing at news portal Huffington Post. The US-based content aggregator ran a photo essay May 12 by Jenna Rak that was sort of short on text and contained no photos by the author — all were culled from other websites or licensing agenices. She praised Prague as “Europe’s prettiest city” just days after the same website said to avoid the place.

Oddly, Rak declared that “Prague typically isn’t at the top of travelers’ bucket lists” in her opening sentence. Typically it makes Top 10 lists, such as one last year by Condé Nast Traveller. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s not exactly a secret that tourism is key to the city’s economy. There were more than 5 million overnight stays in Prague in 2013. That’s a lot of buckets.

From her captions on the photos it doesn’t seem like she has been here, but she did at least read that “the beer is delicious and conveniently cheaper than water.” Her descriptions of the major tourist attractions are free of any names, not even recognizing the Charles Bridge in particular or Old Town Square, which she calls a “patio.”

After praising the red rooftops, cobblestones, snow and skyline she is at a loss for words. “Ah, Prague,” she says in summary, apparently so struck with Stendhal syndrome from the beauty of the photos that she effectively falls mute.

So fine enough. She never actually says she visited, just that it is pretty, which she can judge from the photos she found.

The irksome thing is that on May 8, a scant four days earlier, the same website ran a story by Lisa_Miller (who seems to have a underdash in her name instead of a middle initial) called “10 Places We’re Meh About And Where To Go Instead.” Any guesses what was on the snarky list of found photos that again were not shot by the author? After dissing Paris and urging you to make Lyon “your new favorite city in France,” Lisa_Miller goes on to say: “We’re meh about Prague, but we’re loving Budapest.”

She is just so over the City with a Hundred Spires: “Prague used to be bright and shiny and undiscovered, but now we’re all about Budapest. The capital of Hungary is thriving as a new favorite among travelers, and for good reason. With its distinctive architecture, riverfront setting and rich culture and history, Budapest is a must.”

There may be reasons to prefer Budapest, but Prague certainly has its distinctive architecture, a riverfront setting and rich culture and history. Perhaps she meant to say spicy food, rich desserts and Tokay wine, but got her notes mixed up?

Again, very little in the article suggests that the writer has actually been to any of the 20 cities she praises or dismisses.

The site hasn’t done well with other places in the Czech Republic either. In a recent photo essay on Český Krumlov on Huffngton Post UK, writer Noelle Reno at least used her own photos including selfies but seemed to think she was in a place called “Cesty Kumlov.” She says it more than once. “Cesty Kumlov is picturesque.… The castle and grounds were amazing, leave yourself plenty of time to roam the back streets,” she states in her story called “Czech it Out.”

Earlier she makes this ponderous statement: “There is a purity to a young Czech woman that’s striking; I caught myself staring quite a few times. I often make Random Traveler Friends … and as a new RTF said to me on the airplane, ‘there seems to be a Y chromosome missing with the Czech’.” Women in general lack the Y chromosome. It is not a particularly Czech trait.

Huffington Post site in a September 2013 article about Český Krumlov  said “one of the best ways to experience the town is to take a ride down the Vltava on a wooden raft.” Good luck with that.

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