A few weeks ago a bunch of our friends jumped on a bus to Prague. Which makes it sounds spontaneous, when it was – in actuality – meticulously planned far in advance (thanks, Lucy!) I will never get over being able to board a train or bus and alight in another country. Living on an island my entire life has shaped me in ways I’d never realised.
I didn’t love Prague. It didn’t make my knees buckle, not the way some European cities do. But, then, that’s not exactly correct. I did love Prague, at times, and I loved the company. It was honest-to-goodness good fun. And I loved Prague that Friday evening in a smoky Czech guest house, as old men pulled on their duffle coats to face the wind outside and the smell of burning garlic mingled with cigar smoke in the air. I loved Prague that Saturday evening, sitting in a tiny kitchen overlooking a courtyard playing cards with some really lovely folks. And I loved the King Charles Bridge in the sunshine of a January noon. I loved getting lost on trams.
Really, though, Prague was just a more crowded, Czech version of Regensburg – without the Donau. Which is what I wrote on all my postcards. It’s true, though. The bridge was almost identical to the Stone Bridge here (but Regensburg’s is older. Take that, Praha.)
But not loving Prague was just what I needed. I had a lovely time with lovely friends, but my heart didn’t ache to leave, and I don’t feel the need to write love letters to the city as I do to this one. My quota of heart-stopping moments has been fulfilled for the moment and I was content to eat strawberry ice cream, play cards and remember how much I loved Regensburg in perfect contentment. In Prague, yes. But it was the people that mattered.
P.S. It didn’t help that there were statues of Franz Kafka here, there and everywhere. Our relationship is…tempestuous. To put it mildly.