Were you nervous? Did I keep you on the edge of your seat? Here is the conclusion to my EuroTrip Tale. I hope you enjoyed:
I woke up to a beautiful Spring day, that however, did not prevent me from crying in my bed for about an hour. Then I thought, “Bess, suck it up. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Go put on the cute trench coat and skirt you got yesterday and do something.”
So, that’s what I did. Without the ability to use any transportation, I just walked around the city. I took streets I had never taken before. I had been so arrogant, assuming that in my brief few months stay that I had come to know that city. I knew nothing. I discovered the true Prague when I was able to see it with no distractions, when my feet found each street on their own.
I started taking back alleys hoping I’d be able to eventually find my way back to the dorms. Behind my T-Mobile store there was a tiny walkway I went down. I felt like I had just found the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There, in the middle of New Town, was a quaint little square with trees, benches, and local artists painting and selling their versions of Prague Castle. I spent much of the rest of the afternoon on one of those benches reading. Even though the book I was reading was great, I was much more interested in the people watching. There were obnoxious Italian tour groups singing at the top of their lungs, the quiet artist, and the locals on their way from the farmer’s market, and my favorite – the sandwich shop.
This sandwich shop became my haven for the rest of my stay. It undeniably had the best tuna salad sandwich I have ever eaten. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “No way Bess – not possible.” Let me reassure you – it is possible. I have no idea how to even begin to describe what made the sandwich so wonderful. It could have the fresh vegetables on the tuna or the fresh bread. It could have been the fact that everything else was so good that my mind somehow tricked my taste buds. Using the equivalent of about a dollar or so I bought myself a sandwich and sat for another hour.
Finally, I decided that there had to be more hidden gems in the city. I felt like I was digging in a vintage shop for the Channel bag that has been long since forgotten. After literally walking across one end of the city and down the other I found my second favorite find. Mountain Dew. Because I’m from a small Indiana town, I have a strong affinity for the caffeinated beverage. Apparently Europe has yet to discover the wonderful hyper drink. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I stumbled into a mom and pop shop to buy some cheese and crackers for dinner and there it was staring me in the face. The green neon bottle called to me.
I happily took my cheese, crackers and Mountain Dew to another park bench. At the bottom of Petrin Hill (a large park in the middle of the city), there was a street with a few grassy knolls that sat empty.
I sat myself down to enjoy more of my book and snacks. As I sat there, a group of nuns, a young mother and child, and a few romantic couples on strolls passed by me. I was getting to see the real Prague. I could see the Czech people as more than the people that simply occupy my beautiful city. I saw them exchange whispers with the person they loved and cuddle their babies – the same experiences that unite people all over the world.
When I got home that night, it was finally late enough in American time that I could start making my multitude of phone calls. I was able to get all my credit cards canceled and new ones reissued without much hassle. However, they had to be sent to my parents and then my parents would have to ship them to me which added more days onto the “Traveler Check Budget” I was working with. I also left my parents a rather melodramatic message at their hotel saying, “Call Bess on her room phone because her cell phone was stolen along with the rest of her life. Please call immediately.” I think they thought I had been brutally abused and raped.
That night I found an old bottle of wine and proceeded to drink the entire thing while watching Gilmore Girls episodes on my computer until I passed out. The dorms did not have a corkscrew (hello this is Europe right?). So I dug out the cork with my knife, getting most of the cork in the actual wine. I had to work for my intoxication. So the evening may not have been the most Czech experience, but I was a little girl who didn’t find it safe to be out alone at night (and I just really love Gilmore Girls).
The next morning I did the same thing. I kept finding more parks to people watch. In one park, I watched, what appeared to be an adult acting class doing mime exercises (it was as entertaining to watch as it sounds). I even found an English speaking church to attend that was tucked away in a residential area of the city. Even though I knew no one at the church I felt warm and comforted by the message that things of this world and short lived and truly inconsequential (such as credit cards and cell phones). I knew by the end of my weekend that it didn’t matter if I had a cell phone or a credit card to abuse the exchange rate on or any other silly things that were lost with my purse.
I spent the best weekend of my semester listening to the city and what it was really all about. I still love the Charles Bridge, but I now know that the city is much more than the few touristy sites. It’s more than beautifully preserved architecture. It’s a city that breathes life of artists, lovers, and families. That takes in an orphaned college student without a sense of direction. I devoted a few days a week to reconnecting with my city the rest of my semester. My class schedule left me large chunks of time where everyone else was in class. Instead of napping in my room or hanging around school, I went out in the city. I read more books that semester knocking of park after park armed with my tuna sandwich and Mountain Dew.