Saturday, April 8, 2017

28 Million and Me

A bit of sun and blue sky is all it takes. Gloomy Friday became Glorious Saturday as we set off across the river to the castle and cathedral on top of the hill. Waited on line for a half-an-hour for a minimum security check, entered the castle grounds and walked the gardens. We came to an exit and hesitated, wondering if we should go back and enter the palace itself. But through the exit we went to the front of the castle and now if we wanted to tour it, we’d have to wait in another half-hour line. But I was much more interested in being outside with the blooming cherry trees than inside the church, more tuned into my state of being than another history of the State. Looking at the brutal statues in front of the castle and the wooden living soldiers doing their sill-life Buckingham Palace imitation, it felt like the right choice. Especially when we found an outdoor cafĂ© to soak in the view while eating a Czech potato pancake with spinach and camembert. Warmed by the sun, serenaded by birds, satiated by delicious food and uplifted by the view, it was just the kind of travel I like. I’ve had it with the stories of Kings, Queens, battles, the displays of opulence and so on. Give me a bird singing from a cherry tree branch any day of the week.

From there, we walked the ridge to the imitation Eiffel Tower built for an 1891 Fair. I had ascended the 287 stairs some 13 years ago on my second visit to Prague and am proud to report I could still do it. Then down to the Charles Bridge and now, with no rain, it was Fisherman’s Wharf on steroids, packed like sardines and continuing on to Old Town on the other side of the bridge. It is the first Saturday of Easter vacation and Prague is well-known for its throngs of tourists, so the crowds were out. (In 2016, some 28 million foreign tourists came to Prague. Considering it’s population is 1. 2 million, the ratio of tourist to citizen is impressive! And this Saturday you could feel it!)

So now it was feeling definitively Disneylandish (complete with the church towers!) and escaping to Wenceslas Square with it’s TGI Friday’s and Gucci combo was not a great idea. So back to our Air B&B in our funky neighborhood and call it a day.

Tomorrow the pilgrimage to Leipzig and Bach’s stomping grounds.

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