Our EMBA trip to Prague was an amazing time! While we arrived in Central Europe in the middle of an intense heatwave, I think that everyone in attendance shared a once in a life time experience. I think the best thing to do is speak to the highlights of our time in the Czech Republic.
The tours of the city on Saturday and Sunday while extremely hot provided us the ability to get around the city, whether it be walking, by tram, or on the city metro. I found that very useful. It was also fun to walk to Charles Bridge, through Old Town(1100AD) to the new town(the 1300's!). This sets the stage for exploring a thousand years of art and architecture which flow seamlessly through the city.
The atmosphere of the city squares was almost carnival like. Venders roasting ham on a spit, or gyros, grilled cheese. Street performers played music or did performances in the squares. It was a lot to take in. But the city had much more to offer beyond being a tourist destination. While the great squares were preserved in their traditional appearance, a modern city had grown up just around the corners.
Our Meetings with Siemens, GE Money Bank, Passion advertising, and Avast! anti virus software showed that the city was rebounding from the economically stagnant Communist era into a Westernized business minded city and country. It was very interesting to see each of our speakers talk with pride and enthusiasm about what great things were going on in the Czech republic.
Our trips outside of Prague to Brisk spark plug manufacturing company and the Ruckl Crystal factory showed us that not every industry had fully transformed. The Crystal factory took pride in their traditional process, but it was obviously very hard on their employees. And the Brisk factory had both modern elements of automated manufacturing and more traditionally conceived assembly line production. The line workers definitely had tough jobs.
We experienced some really great food along the way as well! Our first night was a traditional meal served with music and dance in a broiling hot hall. The food was great, and I was even lulled into doing a traditional dance. We had wild boar at the last property of the Arch Duke of Ferdinand before his assassination set off the first world war! Schnitzel in Vienna. A peaceful lunch on the Vltava river in a boat turned restaurant. Our last night we had a going away dinner at the Kozel Brewery. That tour may have been my highlight of the trip! The Largering room was a cool 55 degrees on a 100 degree day!
The Trip was a great learning experience. We were able to see the dynamics involved in bringing the Czech Republic out of its communist era slump into an exciting western European capital of culture, art and economic possibilities! I think that Prague has a a lot going for it, and the Czech republic will likely have a bright future!