“The ancient splendor and beauty of Prague, a city beyond compare, left an impression on my imagination that will never fade.” – Richard Wagner
I’m sitting at a platform in the Berlin train station, in the very early morning, when the cute Australian guy I met my first night in Berlin appears and sits beside me. We had struck up a friendship in the hostel and he continued to amuse me the days following… so it is a pleasant surprise to learn we’re taking the same train to Prague. When I remember the late night he just had, I’m surprised again… that he was able to make this train. We search for two adjoining seats, and thanks to his headphone splitter and laptop, we’re able to cozy up and zone out on a couple of movies as our train races toward Prague… only lacking popcorn. Five hours later, we drop my bag at my hostel and spend some time getting acquainted with the city. He’s due to meet “the guys” for a “guy’s weekend”, but we have time. We wander down to Wenceslas Square.
Standing in Wenceslas Square, we’re two of many as the entire city seems to be out enjoying the beautiful weather. Easter is just around the corner and the city is decorated so. Many have told me that Prague is gorgeous and I can now be added to the list of admirers. Undamaged from the War, Prague remains one of the most preserved medieval cities in Europe. It’s filled with historical buildings and towers; cobblestone sidewalks line small, winding stone streets. Here in Wenceslas Square there are small wooden kiosks dotted about, vendors selling wares: sausages, tchotchkes, hot mead, and beer. The festivities are part of the Easter Market which lasts for three weeks. What a great time to be in Prague! My companion and I are intoxicated by a cacophony of smells; the scents of pastry, meats and drinks mingle in the air. As we walk along, I smell fresh bread… then roasted pork from a pig on a spit over an open flame… then further along, chocolate. Along with the smells come the sounds of the people; locals and tourists alike chatting, laughing, and enjoying the day. I’m reminded of the quote – “Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.” This is surely a myriad of sights, smells, and sounds.
After a good walk away from the main center, allowing a broader view of Prague, we find R’s hotel, where he also drops off his stuff. Exhausted from his pub crawl the night earlier, he wants, or rather needs, a nap. Due to my surprisingly smart decision to make it an early night, I’m fully rested and walk with him most of the way. We make plans to catch up later and I hop on a tram back to the city center.