Prague! What an unexpected surprise of beauty and vibrancy! I’d intended to go to Prague with my architect friend Merica. Prague had never been high on my list but I figured it was a great place for an architect to go and far enough away that I wouldn’t really be able to get there on a regular weekend and thus should go during the longer chunk of time I had before my season began. When my visa wasn’t coming through I told Merica not to buy a plane ticket. But I’d already planned enough of Prague that once I did get my visa- I went anyway, by myself. I cannot wait to go back. I loved everything about it. It was like Hogwarts and Disney World and the Renaissance Festival all rolled into one but it’s real.
Turning the cobble-stoned street corner to my hostel I think I actually lost my breath coming upon the Old Tower at Charles Bridge. I arrived at sunset and I couldn’t have planned a more epically gorgeous time to have my first taste of Prague. It was late enough that many of the tourists that throng the streets in the day had dispersed but still palpably alive with talented street musicians, lovers kissing on the bridge, vendors selling trdelnik- the famous Czech ice cream in a hand-rolled and hand-fired deep-fried dough cone, and you know, guys just chilling with their owls.
The first thing I noticed was that public transportation was so easy! I was disappointed that my shiny new European phone plan didn’t get service in Prague (this is still Eastern Europe after all) but I didn’t end up needing it much to find my way around! And besides….most of what I was doing was simply wandering and allowing myself to follow what looked interesting. And that totally works in Prague because everything is interesting!
Prague had so many beautiful, unique buildings and such a distinctive character. The second part of my trip I Couch Surfed for the first time- essentially a website where people open their homes to travelers for free. My host was a Venezuelan ex-dancer, ex-engineer, current yoga teacher and she was awesome! I took her yoga class and then she cooked me an amazing dinner of soup and beet salad! It was great having a guide to the city too- she chose Prague as her home simply because she loved it there. On her recommendation not only did I eat traditional Czech food (potato dumplings and pickled camembert cheese if you’re a vegetarian) but I also had Indian and Mexican food -quite the culinarily diverse cosmopolitan city!
Prague modern art is everywhere and it’s rather cheeky, at least those works by notorious and celebrated Czech sculptor David Cerny. His works are imbued with his particular brand of humor. There is apparently quite a difference between the younger generation who are happy to speak English and those who lived under Communist rule until 1989. I also learned that due in large part to that period in their history, the Czech Republic is also the most atheistic country in the world.
I got to take ballet with the Czech National Ballet- it was so fun! A huge company of over 80 dancers but they were so welcoming to me and there seemed to be a lot of joy in the studio and love between one another.
Then there was being a tourist! Walking around an enjoying the sights, going to the largest castle complex in the world, going to way too many coffee shops.