On my train from Munich to Prague, I shared a compartment with a French woman, Marianne, and a Finnish man, Tuomo, who were both around my age. This is probably one of my favorite things about traveling: meeting people from around the world and getting to know them. Marianne was only on part of the train ride because she got off at a town in Germany where she was studying, but I'll never forget something she told me: when you're young, you have the time and energy to travel, but you don't have the money; when you're middle-aged, you have the energy and money to travel, but not the time; and when you're old, you have the time and money to travel, but not the energy. This really resonated with me, making me very happy I took the month of May to travel, because we have the rest of our lives to work. Most people save money all their life so they can travel when they retire, but why not live your whole life instead of just the end portion? That's not to say working and raising a family isn't living, but there needs to be a nice balance. Besides, you can always make more money, but you can't get another life.
While Marianne had to get off, Tuomo was also heading to Prague. We chatted a decent amount on the train, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day hanging out, because why not see a city with a friend? Something interesting about my Prague experience is it isn't what it would have been if I hadn't done it with Tuomo. He's a big sports fan, and anyone who knows me well knows I really don't care that much about sports. So, after eating this amazing Czech food for lunch, we found a bar so we could enjoy some beer, charge our phones, and watch the US hockey game. Then we did our sight seeing (quickly), and ended up watching the Canada vs. Russia hockey game in Old Town Square. It was a lot of fun, a great experience, and something I never would have done had I not met him!
I'm not quite sure how some people think of the designs for some buildings. I know I don't have that kind of brain, and kudos to those who do, but wow, what a building. The Dancing House definitely stands out at a very modern building among the more classical or baroque buildings of Prague. If you look closely, you can see that it's designed to look like a man and a woman dancing, hand in hand, with her dress swaying. You can see it, though it's definitely abstract!
Construction of the Charles Bridge started in 1357, and it was the only way to cross the Vltava River until 1841, connecting the castle to the old town. It kind of reminded me of Ponte Sant'Angelo since it has several statues on the sides of the bridge, all are replicas now, of course. The bridge has been damaged several times, by nature and war, though it has been repaired several times throughout history too. While at one point carriages, trams, and even buses crossed the bridge, the blacktop has since been removed and is back to its original design.
To get to Prague Castle, you need to hike up a decent sized hill. (Of course castles are always on top of a fricken hill. Who needs protection and fortification, anyway...) The castle and it's grounds are fairly extensive, which is understandable since it is the world's largest coherent castle complex. St. Vitus Cathedral (Chrám svatého Víta), lovely art nouveau cathedral, is even located within its grounds. There's so much to visit and see here, though with everything closed on a Sunday night, we just strolled through the streets and enjoyed the buildings and views.
When we got to Old Town Square, it was full of people watching the Canada vs. Russia hockey game. There were huge screens with the game projected on it and stands selling beer and food. Apart from me being the minority preferring Canada beating Russia, it was really interesting and cool to see. The square has a ton of shops and old buildings on it, including the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, which has been operational since the 14th century. In the tower of the Old Town Hall is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock, and the oldest one still operational, which was installed in 1410. There is definitely a lot of history here, considering Prague was one of the major trading cities between eastern and western Europe.
Prague was a fun city, though it probably isn't quite my favorite. I think what made it the most memorable was spending time with Tuomo, drinking beers, and watching some hockey. It nag be fairly simple, but it reminded me of home and taking life a little slower. I would, however, like to go back; Prague is supposed to be an amazing place to party and has the largest club in Europe with several floors, each playing a different style if music. It just sounds like it could be a blast with a group of fun friends!