"European Russia 2006" story # 15

Prague, Czech Republic           September 17, 2006

I woke in my compartment in the train, startled, because the name, "Praha," was lit up in neon red about the night platform we were paused at. I hurried off. We were in central "Praha" (Prague). It was four a.m.
     My flight back to the States was scheduled for ten a.m. I'd borrowed money from my parents for it. And, only three weeks earlier, I'd taken money from home (birthday and Christmas gifts my nice parents and grandparents had given me) for the first time since arriving in Eastern Europe - ten-and-a-half months earlier, with US$570.
     I checked my bags, ate a train-station Czech sausage, and set off in the night towards Prague's "old town."
     The city was slightly scary at this time. On dark, narrow streets, I passed gangster-esque locals out on a Friday; a taxi driver who wanted to save me from walking; a gypsy prostitute who said, "Bojis se?" (Are you afraid (of trying me)?); and hundreds of young English and American tourists returning from nightclubs, or (mostly the English) searching for strip-clubs or sex clubs. Some of these travelers sounded cool, but many were engaged in overly loud or obnoxious conversation.
     Beautiful Prague wasn't so beautiful then; the normally impressive monuments just looked like dark, pointy icebergs.
     The sun was beginning to rise, however, by the time I reached Charles' Bridge. The pinks, yellows, purples, greens, and blues of the horizon sky and the roof-tops and castle-tops of Old Town across the bridge reminded of each other.
     A discotech beside the bridge played popular but lousy music, and I decided not to go in. I walked onto the wide, pedestrian bridge over the river Vltava.
     Except for one guy taking pictures at the beginning of the bridge, I was the only one on it - such a packed and busy place by day - for nearly fifteen minutes. The sound of the discotech disappeared and was replaced by the washing rush of a dam, or some rapids, beneath the bridge. It was a wonderful place to be. I strolled and admired the thirty or thirty-five statues that line the bridge.
     Almost half the brown statues are religious in nature. They show things like weak-bodied men in bishop hats wearing powerful and unsympathetic faces, holding little crosses with little Jesus's on them.
     Elsewhere on the statues, a stretched face grows out of a tree. A herd of wolves pours out of their burrow in the ground. A dragon is positioned beside some humans on one statue. I believe there are some holy women in the statues, too. All the statues are mesmerizing.
     While I was looking at the statues, two row-boats with little men in them appeared on both sides of the river below and rowed towards the rapids for some fishing.
     It was a nice Saturday morning (August 5th) in Prague. Traffic on the bridge had begun to pick up. I took the now-operating metro to recollect my bags, then rode public transportation to the airport. And I called Klara.

Thanks to everyone for reading about this trip! I've had fun writing.
     And thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible and wonderful!!!

'til next time,
peace and love,
Modern Oddyseus

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