Los Angeles versus Prague

The two cities have some surface similarities but a lot of differences

Sitting in a café with the sun beaming through the glass windows—sipping an iced coffee, a latte or even a pressed juice while snacking on a pastry of sorts—Los Angeles and Prague, approximately 6,000 miles apart, the two cities may have more similarities than one would think.

A very distinct difference in culture between Prague and LA is the alcohol consumption. An obvious contribution is the difference in legal drinking age from 18 years old in Prague to 21 years old in Los Angeles.

The Czech Republic, has the highest beer per capita consumption in the world, and this largely contributes to Prague’s culture. The relaxation when it comes to the consumption of alcohol definitely gives the city a more laid-back vibe. People seem more carefree and less worried about starting events and meetings right on time. In LA, people are more concerned over health and fitness than beer.

As far as the cuisine goes both cities have many different foods to try. LA is very into salads and the “vegan lifestyle,” whereas Prague has a lot less greenery on the plate and a lot more meat, gravy and dumplings. In Prague you must directly order and pay for water if you want a glass, and you must go further to specify if you want it still or sparkling — refills are not free and in some restaurants a glass of water is more expensive than a glass of beer.

Additionally, in Prague you often have to pay for ketchup, it will not come with your meal—yes, even if you order fries. Lastly, in Prague, especially as a tourist, it is important to check your bill at the end of a meal for hidden cover charges. For example, restaurants will often charge you for a basket of bread, whether you asked for it or not. Restaurants are even known to raise the prices on English menus compared to the menus written in Czech.

Compared to Prague, a city filled with history dating back to the 1400s, LA is a very contemporary city with most of its infrastructure dating back to the late 1800s and even the early 1900s. In other words, the two cities contrast each other as Prague’s culture is centered around much more historical landmarks such as Charles Bridge, while LA’s culture is centered around much more contemporary institutions such as the Hollywood sign and the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The transportation systems in LA and Prague are vastly different. The infamous LA traffic slightly hinders every aspect of an Angelino’s daily life, as you must schedule your day around it — always giving yourself ample time to get to the final destination. Also, similarly to how Prague’s beer culture makes Praguers more relaxed, LA’s horrible traffic does the exact opposite for Angelinos — everyone is slightly more on edge and impatient.

In Prague, public transportation is easily accessible. Many people do not have cars, as you can easily get around via buses, trams, the metro, taxis and walking; contrastingly, in LA owning a car is almost so necessary that it is hard to affordably get from place to place on a daily basis without one. LA is very widespread and getting from one neighborhood to the next without a car is virtually impossible. Yes, there are UBERs and taxis to catch, along with an above ground metro that the city is working on expanding, but at the end of the day if you are living in LA owning a car is critical.

Some of the most contrasting aspects of the two cities’ cultures are what people talk about. Praguers are generally more straightforward about their opinions, whereas Angelinos often avoid sensitive topics in an attempt to escape appearing rude. Each culture has different taboos — what someone may directly ask you in one culture may be considered impolite to mention in another. For example, whereas a topic such as politics is blatantly discussed in Czech culture, in America it would be considered intrusive to ask someone what their political views are unless you are close with them. Additionally, whereas in Czech culture people keep their religious beliefs to themselves, in America people are more likely to be very open about their religious views and practices.

In general, Praguers tend to keep more to themselves until you really know them, even in passing — you can’t feel bad if you make eye contact with someone and they don't bother to crack a smile, they aren’t being rude the culture is just different. In Los Angeles, oppositely, people are generally very friendly on the surface when you first meet them, even if they know it is possible that they will never see you again.

In LA, going to the beach on the weekends (and even a bit during the week) is commonplace. Beaches are everywhere and offer an exciting atmosphere to hang out in with your free time. In Prague, taking a short trip to the beach is very rare, as you must go all the way to Croatia to do so.

In Prague, a big thing to do on the weekends is hang out at your cottage and go mushroom picking in the forest. Even though LA has a large interest in vegan and locally grown foods, the thought of eating mushrooms picked straight from a forest is unheard of and something that both Angelinos and Americans in general would never do.

The differences between the city boil down to old-school tradition in the heart of Europe for Prague versus embracing the latest trends way out west in the City of Angels.

More VS articles on Prague.TV

Paris versus Prague (18.04.2016)
New York versus Prague (24.02.2016)

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