Praha!

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” –John Lennon

Leading up to my trip to Prague, I was feeling very discouraged. I was drowning in schoolwork and coming down with a bad cold. I seriously considered skipping the trip, but I knew my best friend and cousin, who I was meeting in Prague, would not be pleased with me. And, I am SO glad I decided to go!

I had to leave my apartment at 6:45am, and for the first time in Madrid, I saw the sun rise while on the train to the airport. I think it was a sign that I made the right decision to follow through with the weekend in Prague.

I made it to my hostel in Prague and found my best friend waiting for me. I have met some great people here in Madrid, but nothing compares to spending time with an old friend. Of course, the first thought on our minds: “FOOD!” We met my cousin Heather and her friend for burritos, and I think they were good but I wolfed it down far too fast to taste it.

Next stop: the John Lennon Wall. The wall got its name because the first thing ever painted on the wall was John Lennon’s face and some song lyrics following his assassination in 1980. Because Western images and symbols were banned at this time in Czechoslovakia by the Communist regime, the artwork was seen as a rebellion and was removed. However, that one painting was enough to start a trend—the wall became a place for anti-communism proclamations. After the fall of communism, the wall transformed into a place for social activism and artistic expression. You will not see the same façade two days in a row because there is always someone painting something new. Naturally, my favorite was “Love Trump’s Hate.”

We then continued exploring the city, walking over the Charles Bridge into the Old Town. We saw the Astronomical Clock and the little show that happens at the top of the hour. The clock was installed in 1410 in the Old Town Hall and is the oldest astronomical clock still operating.

We had a traditional Prague meal of beef with bread dumplings and potatoes, and of course a Czech beer. Charly and I headed back to hostel early, tired after a day of travailing. Classic Charly and Rebecca move: we didn’t actually go to bed early but instead spent hours talking and catching up about our experiences abroad. Did you really have a slumber party with your best friend if you didn’t talk all night?

The next morning we were up and out fairly early. Our first stop was the Prague Castle. We were quite confused when we arrived and it was not a castle like we pictured in our minds (you know, that medieval Cinderella type). Instead, the Prague Castle is more of a complex of different buildings, creating a village within the city. Dating back to the 9th century, the Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. My favorite part was the gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus. The site of St. Vitus has been home to cathedrals since 910, and St. Vitus was constructed beginning in 1344. Just as it was almost finished in the 1500s, it was severely damaged by a fire. It was not until the 1860s that renovations and plans to complete the cathedral began. The cathedral was finally finished in 1929, 600 years after it was begun.

In one afternoon we ate some amazing sushi (apparently Prague is known for having the best sushi in Europe), I had a great latte, and we shared a heavenly fondue platter. Every bite and calorie was completely worth it. That night we both ordered Czech goulash in bread bowls. Needless to say, it was a great food day.

The next morning we waked by the Vltava River and explored the Jewish Quarter, Josefov. Josefov dates back to the 13th century when Jewish people were ordered to leave their homes and settle in one area. The neighborhood grew as more exiled Jews began coming from across Europe. The area’s six synagogues, the Ceremonial Hall, and the cemetery all survived Hitler’s regime because he declared Josefov a “Museum of an Extinct Race.”

We then stumbled across this huge candy shop, so obviously we went in and discovered they had a museum with chocolate tastings and praline-making demonstrations. I’m still dreaming about that chocolate.

It was time to say goodbye to Charly, but I still had a few hours to kill before my flight, so I ventured over to the Old Tower of the Charles Bridge. Climbing the tower was the perfect way to end my weekend in Prague. I got to see the entire city and was left with that final image of beauty in my mind.

I had a comical taxi ride to the airport. Even though I told him I did not speak Czech, the driver talked the entire time and at one point showed me pictures of his “women” with their pet cat. He also blasted some Czech screamo music and was an enthusiastic steering wheel drummer. Due to bad weather in Madrid, my flight was delayed, and I could feel myself getting sicker by the minute (whatever I was coming down with before I arrived in Prague was getting worse). I missed my train from the Madrid airport and was forced to take an expensive taxi ride back to my apartment. I arrived home feeling very sick, frustrated, and exhausted. I was feeling a little discouraged by all of this and worried about my week to come with schoolwork, but of course my brilliant mother shined some wisdom down on me all the way from NJ reminding me how important it is to take care of myself first, and that I will get the work done, because I always do. “Rebecca, everything will be fine.” And she was right, moms are always right.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you will join us, and the world will live as one.” –John Lennon

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