Goodbye, Praha

The final morning in the city of Prague… Do I need to mention I was getting the blues? We were still smiling about someone we assumed could be American singing his heart away. Secretly I was wondering what a nightlife in Prague is like… At breakfast we saw a few Italians (I salute you guys, always and ever!). That brought back memories of my trip to Rome. That trip was soon going to become a memory as well. I was fascinated by the sound of the Italian language. It doesn’t take much to get me fascinated, does it? I could sit there listening to them for way longer. We had to check out and so did the group of Italians. They seemed to be having a problem with their credit card and my sister observed that nowhere is a perfect place to live and things that get us annoyed on a daily basis back home are common here as well… It took the receptionist quite a while to sort this problem out. He got all apologetic and did it in Russian, which I guess wasn’t an easy thing to do for him. My sister happened to use a colloquial word for “train station” as she was asking him for directions there. It was funny because he didn’t seem to understand what she was going on about. I love these little precious moments of linguistic misunderstandings, I treasure them in my memory! Is the sky getting clear? Why did it have to wait till today? Right, I know there will be no answer to this. Another walk through the Charles Bridge under the clear blue skies… Someone up above had certainly conspired to reinforce my pain of partying with Prague. Or was it just showing me its new colour to welcome me back somewhere down the line…?

One thing I knew for sure was that I would never forget that walk and neither would I all the others…

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We popped into a bookstore right at the Charles Bridge and it was a beautiful retreat despite us having very little money left.

 

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Now it was time to feed the swans (no, not with sausages). They are really greedy creatures and one of them was so impatient that it bit my finger. I kept thinking about them eating sausages and kept giggling. The views of the bridge and the Vltava got me into a pensive mood… It was a bit too chilly to sit on that bench a little longer but it was enough to make the feelings I was having last… I was ready for life to go back to a full swing, I was ready for spring!

 

Now we were off to Prague’s narrowest street which was just near the Čertovka (Devil’s Channel), Prague’s little version of Venice. Unfortunately it was closed for a reason unknown to us. Well, it wasn’t meant to be then.

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Let’s just walk then along more “regular” streets of Prague. We ventured to the other side of the bridge and I wished we had a few days before. The architectural details of the buildings were splendid! I guess we failed to find Nerudova Street famous for its house symbols as my sister was getting impatient. We walked back along the other side of the bridge when we saw one of the street artists there doing a sketch of someone. How was he doing that?

 

As someone with a zero talent for drawing, I was astonished at his ability. If only I was a good drawer and could draw my view of Prague at the moment. As someone started playing a melancholic melody and birds were flying over the bridge against the sky turning overcast, I felt a tear coming to my eyes. It was such a movie-like moment. No, I would never give up these stupid romantic thoughts. They were beautiful to have here but back at home I wouldn’t certainly need them if I didn’t want to end up feeling anxious and stressed every day… On the plane here I was reading about the famous Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva and her complicated relationship with Prague and there was this statue of a medieval knight that she mentioned in one of her poems. I looked down the bridge and here it was. Was I even telling myself off for another romantic moment…? Ok, let’s just leave.

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Another final thing to do was to watch the apostoles at the Astronomical Clock again. We didn’t really want to be approached by a Russian tour guide giving us instructions in a manner Russian mothers-in-law love doing that and she looked like an average one too. I felt so lucky having no one like that in my life! Mind your own business, woman!

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Time for a farewell meal now. We walked past the Powder Gate and found this lovely place I remember someone from the city recommending. It was a large modern building, not “run down” at all. The meal was gorgeous and I was served with the largest portion of pork ribs I’d ever seen! Life is too short not to try them here in Prague! They like their meals really large here! Some final beers… How many had I had over the course of the last few days? I guess that was more than I would have normally had in a year. Life is too short…

It was a late afternoon. We walked around  the Wenceslas Square and had a laugh about how my sister was having her beer right at this spot on our first visit here. It is a really iconic place of a more modern Prague. Let’s just pause and take this moment in…

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Off we go back to our hotel to get our suitcases. We got a bit confused on our way to the tram stop to take us to the train station and I had to ask a random stranger for directions and she instantly recognized we came from the same country… We did find the tram stop and when on a tram, we realized we would not be able to understand the instructions as they were only in Czech… When we realized that we’d been travelling for a while and the train station wasn’t still there, I asked a guy sitting next to me where it was (I even learned the Czech word for “train station” which still makes me laugh). He answered in good English that it was two bus stops ago. Ok, we got off. My sister was getting infuriated. Right, we got onto another tram thanks to a lady trying to help us using body language. We wouldn’t miss it now. I made sure it was the right stop and addressed a guy (a quite handsome one. Ok, forget about this word, you are going home!) to ask if it was the right stop. He understands English as well? Ok, let’s forget about that and go home… We got off and got a bit confused as to where to go when a lady offered to help. She turned out to come from Voronezh too! She had been here in Prague for a few years now. Familiar grumpiness… We could have done without her but I couldn’t help thinking about some kind of magic bringing us together that evening…

So here we were at the Václav Havel Airport with a few more hours to wait for our flight… Saunas, spas… How many more wonderful things there were to explore in the Czech Republic…? As we did get on our plane, it started snowing! So that was a bit of winter in Prague for me…

Looking back, I would have chosen to go and experience Prague in spring but I think that trip was just as magical as I was hoping and dreaming. The magic of the City of the Thousand Spires never lets go… Neither does our desire to live and escape winter and daily routine just to find ourselves wrapped up in another mystery around or within us. Let’s raise our beer glasses to the Gothic, magical and quirky Prague and let’s see if there is a magic trick to bring us here again (any time of the year will actually do…).

 

Praha. Day 4

Our final full day in the Golden City started off routinely well. It looked like the sky was clearing up a bit and even though that wasn’t supposed to be a busy day, we still had a few things to look forward to. Our breakfast got us ready to walk the central Prague again and drop in to a few shops on the way. Just to experience a typical Prague morning and be astonished at the thought of not having to join in the daily commotion. The Old Town was mine last but one time and that got me wondering how many more beautiful photos of me posing in its different parts had I been given more time to spend here. We had a mission though, which was to climb the Old Town Tower to get a bird’s view of all of the spires and get inspired as I’m hugely fond of this type of sightseeing. We had a bit of a difficulty finding the entrance to the Tower but we did get there a bit later. The wind was feeling a lot chillier from up here.

The Astronomical Clock stroke 10 but this time we could only hear it echoing in our ears as we were making our way all the way up. There was almost no one up here except us. The famous red roofs of Prague, I fell in love with you and I didn’t mind the wind sweeping off my hood and messing with my freshly done hair. I was happy to be struggling through the wind to see them. How many times will I find myself pondering over their beauty and magic charm as I am at my university building reflecting over my life choices and where they are taking me. How many times will I have to remind myself those roofs I can see are part of my daily routine which makes it obvious I’m not in Prague… But I was in Prague for now. The spires of the Týn Church and their maleficent glory, the Prague Castle looming away, the Wenceslav Square far off, the hills, and roofs and roofs and roofs. I felt free and alive, nothing fundamental that would tear me apart but just as much as you are supposed to as you are breezing through your daily routine.

 

We started making our way all the way down and even had a souvenir coin made for us after a bit of linguistic misunderstanding…. Another walk to the Charles Bridge, more people-watching and another look at a charming man who would see at one of the shops for two days running doing something a man isn’t meant to do – making aprons and smiling courteously. I bet he had no idea how cute that looked to see him at work! More views of the Charles Bridge – I could well get used to having it as part of my Prague existence! There were so many more little details to take in and I didn’t want to let go and let myself just leave the next day.

We made it down to ponder our existence some more outside the Franz Kafka Museum and I felt a child inside me rejoicing as I found the area around it virtually deserted, which meant a lot of photo opportunities. That was cheeky, Prague style. On my first visit here I remember seeing “The Two Pissing Men” by the same David and how bewildered I felt having seen something like that in Prague. Little did I know, I would get to know Prague a bit more intimately and there would be no questioning and amazement whatever I saw. These two exposed men were for me feeling resentful and that pretty much described the way I felt about going back home to what I’d been trying to get away from.

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We stood here for a little bit more and got inside the Franz Kafka Museum just to see a few souvenirs.

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As we were walking down to the Vltava bank, we recognized the very street we were walking about two years ago because there was this particular beer place I was dreaming I could visit back then. It didn’t look quite as appealing on this dreary day but the

recollection of the dream was sweet and warm like a glass of hot wine. We decided to make a more proper acquaintance with the swans. Standing here at the Vltave bank overlooking the Charles Bridge I could feel a kiss of spring on my cheeks. It was on its way and I knew it would find us a lot sooner than we thought! I breathed in but didn’t dare to exhale. How beautiful the world is – the swans, Prague…

We wandered for a bit till we found ourselves in a beautiful garden, which seemed like an amazing retreat. The spring was breathing more distinctly on me now… It felt as if we had found ourselves here by mistake because it had just popped out of nowhere. Magic of Prague… It turned out to be Wallenstein Palace. Peacocks walking around owned the area (or rather their tails dragging behind them did). Just as fast as we found the garden, did we find ourselves outside it. A walk through the Kampa Island brought us back to the figures of the giant babies and this time we got an amazing close up of yellow penguins lining the Vltava Bank. Prague and the Vltava – what a turmoil relationship!

Another mission was to find a recommended place to eat which was somewhere outside the Kampa Island. I found Prague to be quite comprehensible to navigate. There was another life going on here, less fundamentally magic as we moved a bit further off the Charles Bridge. We were moving towards the Petřín Hill. We came across the famous Monument to the Victims of Communism. The figures that were almost invisible as they were missing limbs looked really eerie.

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I loved the famous “run down” feeling of that beer place. The meal and the service were amazing and I could resist meat and cheese and “Seven Bullets” (the best beer I’d tried at that point). After the lovely meal and a few reflections over our beers, we decided to burn it all off and walk the Petřín Hill. It seemed sweepingly high but the beers must have blurred our judgment a bit so we avoided using the furnicular to take us up. The sweeping views of the city we got were all worth it! I looked behind me and never wanted to turn away!

My inspiration helped me to encourage my sister to keep walking up as she was getting a bit grumpy about how we shouldn’t have got up here. On that lovely bench we saw being not occupied overlooking the Prague version of the Eiffel Tower (The Petřín Lookout Tower) the world was regaining balance.

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A little bit of peace is always treat after a bit of commotion. It was getting a bit late so we decided we wouldn’t hang around for any much longer. I wish we had walked to the Prague Castle to watch it as the evening was settling in but my sister definitely didn’t feel like it. As we were going down, it started drizzling and that felt a bit nasty and my sister found it very menacing and went into the grumpy mode again… I was happy to have been wearing my newly purchased shoes and felt sorry for her in hers… The views of the Kampa Island and the Vltava with the penguins were amazing! It was all getting sad now and it seemed that it was now time to start saying my goodbyes. Why did I have to leave so soon…?

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I had that overriding urge to take photos of everything and that was how I knew I was already saying goodbye… The last evening walk through the Charles Bridge… I paused right in front of the Prague Castle and it struck me how good it would have been if I was good at photography. This particular angle was a bliss for photographers and they were some trying to preserve their share of the Prague magic. I was there for a while messing around with my camera. The magic was there and who cared about photography skills at that point… A final round of trdlo and hot wine, views of the evening Old Town… No, it isn’t goodbye yet! Let the magic linger on…

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Back at the hotel, we were getting ready to go out on this last night in Prague and head next door to the Beer Museum to get a taste of more kinds of the national drink. Beer had already become our routine drink! As we were getting ready to go out, my sister suggested we might want to feed the leftovers we had in the fridge to the swans when we went to feed them the next day. I have absolutely no idea why but what she said had me rolling with laughter all over my bed! Swans eating sausages! Was that just me or was that really something that didn’t seem quite easy to comprehend? Anyway, we didn’t have to go far and we were happy there was a table for us as the place was packed. I loved watching people there and I knew for sure a bunch of young men showing off were Russians before I even heard them talk… As we were sipping on our newly discovered beers, we watched more people coming and it felt like a privilege! There was an American man talking to one of the waitresses and I was saluting her language skills. A black guy who had passed by a few times came up to us and paid us a compliment. It was so sweet of him! A few nice words are a better catalyst of happiness than beer, for me anyway… With lots of things to smile about, we were getting ready to leave the place as it was almost midnight… Still smiling in my bed, I couldn’t get enough of the radio playing on my phone. That was our last night here in the Golden City. Early in the morning we got woken up by someone singing “Angels” by Robbie Williams at the top of his voice till someone shouted “Hey!” at him. As my sister would recollect, she thought there would be a fight but the singer was quick enough to cut off his singing. My sister was thankful to whoever it was for reminding her she hadn’t put her devices on charge…