Sitting on a train right now from Austria to Slovakia (although this will be posted much later when I have internet) and it feels like a surreal moment. All that I have done, and trying to keep up with it in my brain (and on this blog) has been one of the highlights of the trip. Blogging as I go means I get to experience the adventure all over again, AND appreciate it even more as I do it. I know how lucky I am to be here, and I think I have mentioned that in every post and journal entry I have written. But as I sit on this short train ride, I wanted to reflect on the 48 hours that I was in Prague, Czech Republic.
Prague was both one of the best parts of the trip and one of the worst thus far. One of the best for me because it was my first time in Eastern Europe, and the city truly felt magical. Like a damn fairytale. Also one of the best because I got to see TWO separate sets of friends that I have met over the last 3 weeks traveling, and it reminds me this is my favorite part about extended travel. The like-minded people you meet along the way that are on similar travel itineraries, and you just happen to be in Prague at the same time. One of the worst though because my sister Nicole started getting sick right as we were leaving Venice, and it proceeded to get worse throughout our 48 hours in Prague. Plus we were staying at an AirBnB, and although my experience throughout the world doing it has been great, this one was subpar. Great location but terribly hot and dirty. Being sick in a dirty, hot bed is not fun so felt bad for her.
But arriving in Prague on Monday afternoon from Venice was great, before the sickness and the grossness of the accommodation set it. We got off the plane and went straight to walk around. The city looks like was plucked from the set of a Disney movie, with cobblestone, narrow streets lined with colorful buildings and cafes. Every street and sidewalk was made of this rocky historic texture, which made it hard to walk but so cute walk around. We stopped to get some traditional food of meat and cheese… and beer. Although Nicole was fading fast, we had to stop and try it. The food was hearty, and the beer was good. We realized too, after converting it, our whole meal was about $15. Not bad! Then we walked to the top of a hill, and holy cow. We could see all of Prague at sunset, including the Charles Bride, and sat and drank beer with locals (where this was clearly their day-to-day experience), and couldn’t believe what we were looking at. This city was beautiful! On our walk home, we stopped in the old town center to have another beer, which was great because it was $1 and you can walk around anywhere with it. We sat and enjoyed the tourist who milled around in this beautiful area. It was crowded, and still very hot, but I felt like we had seen a lot in the short period of time. On the walk home, we ran into two friends I had met in Cortona, Denise and Leslie. Oh my gosh, if they aren’t life goals I don’t know what is. They deserve an entire post just for them, but essentially, they are a Canadian couple who are semi-retired, and spend a few months a year in Cortona and then gallivant in Europe on their way home. They loooove good wine, and were meeting their friends in Prague to do a bike tour around eastern Europe. Fun, active, and drinkers? Seriously, I want their life. I can’t wait to visit them again! But we stopped and chatted with them and their friends, but they had to head home to start biking to Austria in the morning (you know, totally normal) so we went to bed.
The next morning, Nicole had taken a dive. She felt terrible, so I decided to leave her to sleep and I would take a walking tour (I am a HUGE fan of free walking tours. I try to do them in every city I go to if possible!) I forgot I had met someone in London who I had told about the tour. Veronica was in the bunk next to me in my hostel in London, and she went to Cal State Long Beach at the same time I did. Such a small world, and she ended up coming to the tour with her travel partner. The tour itself was subpar, and with it being 95 degrees out, it wasn’t exactly the greatest walking conditions. After 3 ½ hours, I was done and ready to take a break. We promised to meet back for dinner.
I went back to find Nicole who was not doing great, so dinner was out for her. So sad! I met the girls for dinner at Lokal, a place recommended to me by hour host. And “local” it was. I ordered beef that ended up coming out raw. This was the custom, so I tried to eat it and I swear it was just toast and a slab of burger. I feel like I have an iron stomach for travel, but this was a bit much for me. We did have local beer with lemonade, a custom they insisted we try. That part was delicious!
From there we walked back up to the top of the hill with a beer in hand, so I could show them the spot Nicole and I discovered the night before. We sat and talked, which is one of my favorite things to do with new friends. Hear about travel stories, how someone can take months off at a time to travel, favorite places to go and explore. It’s just great to meet such like-minded people who don’t think you are weird for taking 3 weeks off to go discover new parts of the world. It is refreshing, and something that my soul needs to make me feel “normal” every now and again. I know this whole travel thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it truly is my whole life, so I love when I can talk to someone about that without the looks of judgment or preconceived thought. This is ME, and I love that it comes out here.
Last but not least, after finishing our drinks at sunset, we walked over to the popular Charles Bridge and Lennon Wall to see other parts of the city, and meandered around the small streets surrounding the castle and other Prague landmarks. With Nicole being sick the whole day, it was great to have people to explore with. We parted ways around 9:30pm with hopes of seeing each other soon. The worst part of travel – when would that be?! But if I have learned anything, is friends you meet while traveling sometimes become lifelong friends!
The next morning, we woke early to leave for the train for Vienna. That part of the trip coming at you soon!