Since the fall of Communism, Prague has regained the sophistication and the splendor of its glory days. Unfortunately, this also means that it is now swarming with tourists. Perhaps because it was a holiday weekend, there were so many tourists that at times I felt like I was at Disney World. I guess I’ve been fortunate that my experiences in Europe so far have mostly been during the off-season or at slightly off-the-beaten-path locations. Witnessing the tourist mania in Prague has prepared me for true insanity in Paris and Rome in the coming weeks.
That said, Prague is amazing.
It escaped from WWII virtually unscathed. Two bombs were accidentally dropped on the city, and the locals were actually glad to be rid of one of the buildings that was destroyed. So, whereas Budapest’s crumbling Art Nouveau buildings stand next to communist era construction, there are almost no signs of communism in the streets of Prague. Both cities are captivating in their own way.
The seven hour train ride between the two European capitals sped by. We
were tricked into buying accidentally-on-purpose bought first class tickets, so we had the six-seat compartment all to ourselves.
The countryside outside our window was glorious.
Friday night, we headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, they weren’t serving food after 10:00 PM, so we had to get our calories from delicious Czech beer. On Saturday morning, we gorged ourselves on the bountiful free breakfast then hopped on the tram to the city center.
Then we wandered.
I knew some buildings/sites that I wanted to see, but we veered down side streets whenever we spotted something interesting. We spent little time in the popular Old Town Square. Although it was beautiful, the tourists made me feel claustrophobic. What I most enjoyed about Prague was gazing at all the details on the buildings. I could have walked and stared for many more days.
At the end of the day, my feet were sore, but my soul was content. Losing myself in a new city is actually a way to learn more about myself. As a traveler, I am curious about every aspect of the place that I visit. When I open my mind to new experiences, I gain new insights about who I am and how I fit into the world. I keep hoping that one of these days all of these experiences will connect to form a coherent picture.
Next post: An art tangent about Czech cubism, Alfons Mucha, a dancing house, and the beauty of bull fighting.