There is a certain pattern which all backpackers usually follow on their “Euro” trips. Since I love travelling it made me endeavour to check all the Europe’s biggest highlights the way they do and visit places such as Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin. But then it comes to Prague, the heart of the whole Europe and the city of thousand spires.. and the objectivity quickly vanishes. Simply, for me it’s never going to be just a bucket list item or a “must see” place. I will never take it as another capital with cheap booze and rich night life everyone talks about.
I can’t look at this place as billions of other people do, it won’t get stuck in my memory as a tourist attraction. I won’t try to capture its sights on a memory card of my camera and I will never buy a single souvenir with Charles Bridge or beer pint on it. I might brag about it among friends though, because this place will forever stay imprinted in my mind, deeply pinned to my heart and soaked under my skin.
I have spent more than twenty years there – all the countless laughs with friends, endless late night conversation, tipsy stumbling through the city centre. All the family gatherings and Christmas celebrations together with desperate last minute presents haunting in packed shopping malls.
I remember the Florenc metro and bus station as a spotlight of my everyday life during the past year. As much as I remember the tram stop in Vrsovice I hated so much because I had to be there every day before 7:30 for my high school attendance. I will never forget how long the bridges across Vltava felt like when I had to cross them during the half marathon I had determinedly tied myself into.
I have also laughed about tourists eagerly gathering under the Astronomical Clock to watch the “10 seconds” show which is being repeated every hour. I have seen it probably thousand times and still I will come there again just to embrace the moment of feeling the real savor of this city. I have wondered about its beauty when the pitch dark rolls over and the resurrected magic and charm combined with past stories blows at your face. I have stopped and stared on the skyline during the unique sundown time when the sky turns pink and purple and basked in that wonderful show.
I opened so many new years with a bottle of sparkling wine there and had tons of wasted nights with hazy endings the other day. I found and lost number of friendships. I had been leaving and coming back repeatedly and every time I returned, I found something new there. And every time it got easier and harder at the same time to leave again.
Sometimes I just loved to take my camera and wandered around as a complete stranger, a tourist seeking a great shot. Enjoying the sunshine and ice cream on the chipped bench, watching people with tourist guides in their hands and trying to empathize.
Would I like you if I met you just as shortly? What if we spent just a weekend breakout together? What if we just went for a walk together, danced at the party and shared couple of beers? What if I knew you only in the way other observers describe you in the Lonely Planet guide? You would buy me Trdelnik (link for those who don’t know) and show me the best spot to see the night city lights. You would also take me to the overpriced souvenir shops just to get one of the fake Russian babushka or some silly hoodie and a magnet. My shoes would clap everytime I step on the cobbled street while we walk through the Old Town and I would smile like a silly, pretending that this will last forever. You might even fool me into believing the Goulash is your traditional dish. But then I would inevitably pack my backpack and leave the hostel room and you would just cast your eyes down and then open your arms for someone who’ll come after me. I know there will be many. They will never stop. We would have a perfect date but I guess we would never meet each other again. I might add you on a social media, tag you on pictures and then talk to you once or twice. That’s how it probably would be. Or maybe I’m completely wrong and I would fall in love with you crazily that I would eventually decide to spend the rest of my life with you, move and set Prague as my brand new permanent address.
However, I will never find out because you gave me so much more. You gave me all the memories, you raised me, taught me how to live and took care of me. You provided me with home and family and for all that I will love you unconditionally for every single day of my life.
I don’t know if I will ever come back to stay. Though, what I know is that I will come back many times to recall the memories which can never be erased. I will always appreciate seeing you my old friend.