Right now I’m in Europe- specifically, I’m on a train from Prague to Bamberg, Germany. There was a Czech couple sharing my compartment earlier, but they got off a few stops ago, so now it’s just me and my laptop and what I assume is the German countryside (seriously, I have no clue where we are right now). It’s my second full day in Europe and I’m over the moon to be here. I’m still not over the jetlag, though. One thing about Europe in the winter that takes some getting used to is the fact that sunrise isn’t until 8 o’clock. This fact, coupled with my already whacked-out sense of time thanks to the aforementioned jet lag, meant my first morning in Prague felt a bit strange. I ventured out as early as I could drag myself out of bed and wandered around Old Town; despite being pretty bustling for a city its size, December Prague mornings aren’t just quiet- they're ethereal and misty and a little dream-like. At about 9AM yesterday, it felt like much earlier in the morning, and I was one of the few people in the street.
All in all, I probably had about 36 hours in Prague, and I spent them the best way I know how- by covering as much ground on foot is possible for one human in that time frame. Prague is my favorite kind of city; it’s small and walkable and feels downright cozy. Aside from the bus I took from the airport, I never once had to use public transportation. There are lots of different districts in Prague, but given my limited time, I stuck mainly to the historic center (Old Town) and saw snippets of close-by areas. If (when?) I come back, I’ll visit some of the outlying areas.
Prague involved a lot of good things- lots of amazing food, more castles and cathedrals than I can count, winding alleyways, art, a homey little hostel right by the train station, soupy hot chocolate in cozy cafes, people watching, trying absinthe at a fancy bar (and regretting that decision pretty much immediately), spectacular views, pathetic attempts at Czech pronunciation, and that wonderful feeling of being surrounded by so many languages (maybe my favorite part of being in Europe).
And then there were the Christmas markets. Europeans know how to do Christmas. Everything you could possibly decorate is covered in tinsel and lights, and you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from a Christmas market (meaning the entire city smells like the holidays/fried food). They’re hands down my favorite thing about Europe during the holidays. At home I prefer other holidays to Christmas, but around here, give me some hot mulled wine and some Christmas cheer and I’m good to go.
Of course, there were plenty of mishaps to balance out the wonderful moments. Delayed planes, finding my way from the airport to my hostel without a map after the bus driver informed me the stop I was looking for no longer existed on his route, nearly freaking out at the electronics clerk in a Czech department store after it seemed like nowhere in the city carried a replacement for my newly short-circuited memory card reader, the unavoidable jet lag headache, and possibly the loudest-snoring hostel bunkmate in the history of hostel bunkmates… it happens. But I haven’t gotten lost (yet) and that is a downright miracle.
I’m maybe 30 minutes from the station where I’m supposed to change trains. After a day of running around, it’s good to be able to sit and hang out in this little compartment for a few hours and process everything. Thus far, the day has been pretty uneventful, but this morning I did eat my breakfast at a train station cafe that played only Glee cover songs. A random Czech teenager and I had a moment when they played the Glee version of Bootlyicious; as it turns out, Beyonce is a culturally uniting force. It’s been a pretty lovely trip so far. Til next time, Prague.