There are certain places in the world that hold traces of the past. These locations, though few and far between, are like time machines that give you a glimpse of the old world. One such place is Prague, in the Czech Republic.
On a spur of the moment decision, I visited there in 2003. It was my first time traveling across the Atlantic Ocean and after the 17-hour plane trip, I took a cab to the heart of Prague. The very first thing I noticed, aside from all the cobblestone streets, was that the majority of the architecture of the buildings have laid virtually untouched since the Middle Ages.
I crossed the bridge over the Vltava River and located my four-star hotel, which cost me, at that time, less than $150.00 for my eight-day trip. After I checked in, I decided to sample Prague’s nightlife and along the way discovered ‘Club Lucerna,’ with its 80’s hits and techno. Much to my surprise I found out that Absinthe, the licorice-flavored alcohol produced from wormwood, is legal in the Czech Republic. I heard a lot about the drink from the experiences of several writers and figured I’d try it. It was very strong to say the least, and not being much of a liquor drinker, I spent the majority of the rest of the night trying to find my way back to my hotel.
The next morning, disoriented, I woke up and found the closest eatery to enjoy a very hearty Czech breakfast, which cost me roughly $3.00. I kept myself busy that day by touring several castles and learning about how Nazi atrocities and Communist oppression marred modern Czech history. Later on, I decided to travel the 80 or so kilometers and visit the Bone Church in Kutná Hora. As urban myth has it, a monk went insane and created everything in the church from furniture to a large chandelier using human bones.
As I made my way back to central Prague, I stopped at one of the many street vendors for a hot dog that was out of this world and cost a little over $.75. That night, I had the pleasure of taking one of Prague’s ghost tours. The tour started by a centuries-old church in the heart of the city, and I was astonished to hear my guide spend less time talking about actual haunted places than telling all of us about how Prague was a major location for those wanting to practice the dark arts in the Middle Ages. I thought it was very interesting, indeed.
The next day, I spent exploring parts of the Bohemian Forest, or Sumava. While I was there, it was ironic to me that I had taken a ghost tour and felt essentially nothing of note, but in the dense forest I felt what most would consider strange. Yet, considering the history of the region, maybe it wasn’t so strange after all.
While every vacation has its ups and downs, its memorable moments and forgettable ones, I can honestly say that my trip to Prague was as close to a perfect one as I have ever had. With its beautiful scenery, friendly people, low prices and interesting history, it was difficult for me to finally leave.