Prague is old and it is beautiful. The streets are paved in stories as old as time and the buildings amaze you with their ability to withstand all that history has ravaged against it. It is a town of repression and freedom and the beauty that is left when you allow your story to shine rather than try to make it something it is not. It amazes all five of us from the moment our train crosses the border to the Czech Republic, the beauty is undeniable. I have dreamt of coming to Prague but in my wildest imagination, I did not expect the beauty to roll through the hills and into the endless suburbs and farm lands, but it does. It is not just the city center that shines, it is the surrounding towns and cities that all seem to be drowned in history that no one has dared to change.
We stay in our first Airbnb in Prague. The old building is charming but the endless stairs while carrying my, way too big, bag were not a good match-I am rescued by my husband but not before “the look” is cast my way. That look says nothing but I hear it loud and clear; “why do you need such a big bag, I told you it would be too big, I told you. . .” blah blah blah, I hear you. I would tell him he was right but I can’t muster the strength to concede (still tired from carrying my bag). So, let’s move on. The apartment is modern with beautiful views and we can’t wait to explore as the amazing roof lines call to us from our beautiful (but small) windows.
We make our way out into the crowds. The crowds are so thick on Charles Bridge and on the main tourist streets it is hard not to imagine what it must feel like for a salmon returning to spawn. Yes, it is that crowded! I, for one am confused, isn’t this the off season and mid week as we were warned? Regardless, our first day in Prague is magical: it is beautiful, it is the boys birthdays and we stumble in to a fantastic bar that quickly presents the boys with a birthday “shots”(non-alcoholic of course).
We finish the night at a place called “Lokal”, a can’t miss if you make it to Prague yourself. Lokal is an inexpensive gourmet eatery with really cool beer! Look, I know it looks like foam but it makes the beer sweet. . .I found love in a beer mug.
We slept well but awoke to a change. Do you know when fear strikes and you know you should remain calm but despite your best attempts you feel a growing sense of discomfort? As you know from my previous post, I am not a fan of nerves, fear, anxiety. . .pretty much anything that lives in the file of “go away”. Waking up on Tuesday morning, I was greeted by the news that terrorists had struck again in Europe. With the news flooding in that more attacks were likely, even eminent, my file box of avoidance was unattainable and I was sitting with a load of discomfort (Insert deep breathing and mindfulness quickly). Planning the trip, we were momentarily derailed by the Paris attacks but decided we would not let it stop us from our vacation of a lifetime. Now we are in the mix, and fear is a strange and encompassing emotion. Fear makes us irrational, it makes us look at friendly faces with suspicion, it makes everything look dark and scary and it makes us question our decisions. Fear also can keep us alive and it is the delicate balance between irrational fear and rational fear that demands attention. This next day in Prague is not carefree for me, it dampens the mood. It is beautiful but it is marred by terror that is far away but not nearly far enough. It makes me wonder why it is ok when it is far away. . .but that is a subject for a different day. The kids don’t truly understand this far away fear and rejoice in the Easter celebrations, the history and the beauty. . .it doesn’t hurt that they are eating lots of regional yummies! We explored for four days, with caution but we explored! We saw the Prague Castle, we walked through every inch of the city and took trams to delicious restaurants. We went in churches and saw the town hall clock, we climbed to the top of the hall to see the magnificent sites and we finally found the peeing gentleman statue (hmmm. . .). Prague is beautiful, crowded and a bit more touristy than I anticipated. Even with my new edge of fear and nearly debilitating awareness, I loved this city.
After much debate and with a deep breath, we are heading to Munich in the morning via a train from Prague. The boys and I have not been to Munich and I am excited to explore a bit of my husbands heritage. I am hopeful that my fears will not completely ruin my trip and my boys. I am practicing deep breathing and a need to separate what is rational and smart vs. what is just fear that cripples me. And with that, we are off!