I arrived in Prague under cover of darkness. My flight was late and the midnight sky only added to the allure and mystique of a place rumored to be untouched by time and of an era long past. By the time I cleared customs it was early morning and I was quite content to begin my exploration of the city in the afternoon. In fact I would have but something called to me. An unsolicited summons compelling me to venture onward. Perhaps it was something in the air. Maybe it was the ancient souls of those beckoning from a distant time. Or perhaps the song of some wayward siren prompting me to delve further into the night. Whatever the reason I was drawn to the city like lemmings to the cliffs edge. And there was no way I could retire to my hotel for the night, with the mystique of Prague laying at my feet.The temptation was too great. So I ventured into the dimly lit night, feet ablaze onto the streets.
I walked up Norodni Trida but decided to bypass the main artery in lieu of the side streets decernibly littered with quiet cafes, kiosks and bodegas. Very characteristic of old town eastern European villages. Near the corner of Naprstkova I came upon a narrow corridor which led down to a candle lit stairway to a cafe at basement level. This is quite typical for an authentic Czech style cafe.
Budvar! Budvar! Budvar! was the chant I was greeted with upon entering the underground bar. The crowd was cheering for more beer as the server happily slammed down stein after stein of the foamy local brew. This was definitely my kind of place.
Cozy, cheerful, honest and filled with some of the best tasting beer in the world. The locals are welcoming and gracious. Before long I was engaged in a host of conversations always ending with a click of our glasses. As delightful as this was I could not stay. The wanderlust had taken hold of me now. The lure of exploration set in and I had to move. After a healthy round of beers and home made sausages I hastily retreated heading toward the Vltava river and the Charles Bridge.
Locals and visitors gather in the sun at Prague’s Old Town center.
Something magical happens when your feet meet the grey stone streets of Prague’s old town. You are replenished with frenetic energy. Your senses are in overdrive absorbing the sights of architectural marvels, castles and cathedrals, unrivaled throughout the world. The cityscape teeming with ornate statues on every structure, street, and alley from Wenceslas square to Mala Strana.
Buildings like polished gold shimmering in the midnight moonlight. The windows on the boulevard reflecting images of the proud Czech people treading on cold stone. It is European opulence at its most grand. Still with so much to consume there was one structure that stood out among all others.
And there it was. Garishly stunning..
…The Charles Bridge.
It is not often that I am at a loss for words. Seeing The Charles Bridge for the first time rendered me speechless. It stands steadfast along the Vltava connecting the Old Town and the ornate style bridge tower on the Mala Strana side and Prague Castle high on a hill.
Statues on the Charles Bridge
Imagine walking on an ancient piece of art sanctioned by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Conspicuously adorned with its overpowering statues of brooding saints standing like some ancient sentinels guarding the bridge and its patrons. Simply awe inspiring. But what was even more exhilarating was at this moment. In this late hour I was the only one there. For a brief moment in time I was the only human on one of the most beautiful and historically significant artifact in the world. I shared it with no one. Magic. The best I could do was draw a breath.
It is said that one day in Prague is worth 10 days anywhere else. It is one of the most enchanting and amazing cities in the world and probably the most beautiful in Eastern Europe. Since the Velvet revolution began in Wenceslas Square the Czechs have made swift moves to relieve itself from the politics of the past.
It is modern, colorful and most of all exhilarating to explore. A historical and architectural paradise infused with Gothic and Baroque structures from Stare Mesto to the Old town square.
Understanding the city’s past helps to close the gap between cultures old and new. Blending the past and present in our hearts creating the illusion of tranquility in our minds, binding us together in spirit. It is in this moment that we transcend the
boundaries of time itself. With all of its complexity and historical disposition Prague still embodies a temperate honor. A genuineness that has weathered the test of the ages and imbues a pertinence of quality to stand uniquely on its own.
It is in this moment that we peacefully surrender to the mystique of Prague.~ZT