Sometimes I think that Prague is just waking up from a long, deep magical spell. Many say it is the most beautiful city in Europe, and most of the time I agree with that. But Prague is more than the beautiful castle overlooking the river and the perfectly charming Old Town alleys. It’s also crumbling buildings and scrawling graffiti. It’s grey Communist blocs and houses that used to be beautiful. It’s train stations where you don’t want to set down your bag on the floor and old trams that are full of scratches and black markers and hard, sticky seats.
Prague is fully in the height of a shiny summer, and it is beautiful. But it was a long, gray winter, and even in the summer, Prague feels like it’s just waking up.
The energy in the air is positive and bright, like a bouncy red ball. The city is buzzing with tour groups crowding around the lovely vistas and pushing down the narrow alleys. The natives have fled for the cooler mountains or are taking advantage of the booming industry.
Praha is a fairy tale for me. It helped make a lifelong dream come true–and it was a privilege to watch this city wake up from its own, sometimes darker fairy tale. Sometimes it seems like it is still stuck in that fairy tale, but I have faith that it will work its way out.
I have a feeling Prague will only get better, and it’s been an honor to spend a year of my life here.
I love this city, and it was never more evident when we had our four sets of visitors and I felt defensive if someone didn’t immediately gush about Prague. If it wasn’t their favorite. I feel possessive and proud of this place that holds such a fierce corner of my heart.
I can’t always explain why, or what to see, or what to do here. I often felt at a loss when asked to be a tour guide. “What else is there to see here?” I was asked, several times.
For me, the answer was a pause. I didn’t know what to say, because for me, Prague is what you see. Around every corner there is a new surprise–especially if you happen to look up. There are always new paths to discover or new routes to take to the same destination. I see streets as I ride the tram that I still ache to explore.
Prague has been around for a while–it has fought through a lot and lived through a lot and in some ways, continues to fight–and you can feel that life in the air. My love for Prague has not always been easy–there have been many challenges this year!–but I think my love is true. Like all great affairs, my love for Prague has not always been simple. While E and I both say this has been the best year of our lives, it’s certainly been the most challenging as well. But, I learned to overlook the occasional sewer smells, dodge the dog poop, ignore the graffiti and look up.
In Prague, you’ve never felt the need more to “keep your feet on the ground…and your eyes on the stars.” (Theodore Roosevelt).
Linking up with Travel Tuesday.