Prague – 3/2010
After parting ways with my friend, I was planning to take another walking tour, finding this a great way to acquaint myself with a new city. Instead, I decide to save it for tomorrow and spend the rest of the day wandering on my own.
I quickly find the popular Old Town Square, not only an easy landmark to begin and end… but also, conveniently, only a couple blocks from my hostel. This tourist mecca framed with medieval buildings and gorgeous houses, hosts the famous Astronomical Clock, and, presently, the same craft, food and drink huts I found at Wenceslas. The merriment of the crowd is the same as well, everyone is eating, drinking and laughing. It’s a festival indeed! Smiling musicians, donned in traditional Czech folk costumes, play folk music on a stage. I’m told Easter Market is a centuries-long tradition. I see people decorating kraslice (painted Easter eggs) and weaving pomlázka (a whip made of willow branches). It was an ancient believe that youthfulness of the plant would be passed to the person being smacked, so young boys would chase girls with the switch! The hand-painted kraslice is the most recognizable symbol of Czech Easter. Girls decorate Easter eggs to give them to boys on Easter Monday. There is also glass blowing, wood carving and traditional lace making to be seen. Here is the place to get a handmade Czech souvenir! I chose a silver charm from a blacksmith forging tools and jewelry right here in the market. He strings it on a leather necklace and I’m on my way.
I admire the scene for some time, joining fellow revelers on the ledge of the fountain listening to the music. Eventually, I wind my way past the crowds in the square, through the picturesque streets of chunky cobblestones and tiny stoned sidewalks. I pass old-fashioned stores selling marionettes, (Obama and Sarkozy puppets found in the mix!) wooden toys, and other handmade craft, admiring the wood carved chess boards in one shop. I’m certainly already in love with beautiful Prague, knowing on this my first day, that I will return again. Before long, I’m admiring the famous Charles Bridge. I’ve used this wonderful stone bridge, lined with statues of Saints, as my desktop wallpaper countless times… and here I am. I love moments like this when traveling and I never fail to appreciate them.
As I empty out from the side streets, to the small square at the foot of the bridge, I’m greeted with a magical view of Prague Castle just across the Vltava River. Completely in a state of awe and contentment, I sit at the edge of the river, overlooking the water and take my time people watching, journaling, and admiring the view. As I eventually make my way across the bridge, it’s already dusk.
*I didn’t know it yet, but my first night is Prague is going to be a great one! Random… but, great.