Besides the visually striking sights that made Prague so memorable, were the moments where I had connected with fellow human beings. When I visited the John Lennon Wall, a graffiti-filled wall expressing Lennon themes of love and peace as well as grievances since the 80s, I came across an artist whose voice was so harmonic that I became crippled in my tracks. Passersby would pause to admire the Wall and pose in front of it, but more than the Wall itself, I was drawn to a stranger whose music was filled with so much depth and passion that it could’ve breathed poetic existence into dust and ashes.
There was also a time when I deviated off of the Charles Bridge towards a park, and drawn by the familiarity of a tune, I followed the sound until I stumbled upon a young lad who was playing his piano — he was playing Yiruma. “What are the chances of me stumbling across a stranger playing Yiruma in Prague?” I ask myself in awe. I smiled while his playing Yiruma serenaded my stroll in the park. Meanwhile, my heart was on fire, as if it wanted to leap out of my chest because it was happy that someone far away, a stranger somewhere out there, shared the same sentimental and soulful longing and nostalgia. I wanted to thank him for playing Yiruma, but hesitant to disrupt him, I simply walked by, caught his eye and smiled, and continued on.
If someone were to ask me why I was deeply drawn to Prague, it’s because of such snippets in time, moments which felt like an eternity, moments where I felt that I wasn’t isolated in this vast universe. It wasn’t enough for me to know it, but I needed to feel it, to experience it; and these two instances in time made me feel that I was part of something much grander than myself — something universal and cosmic.
My visit to the Prague Castle was a neat experience. When we think of a castle, many of us including myself, would picture just that: a castle. That’s why L couldn’t find or pinpoint the Prague Castle, even though I assured her that it was actually a Castle complex that included churches, palaces, halls, and gardens. One would feel infinitesimally small in comparison, to be sure.
Just a note: The highest fee to get into the Castle complex was 350 CZK, which was the most I had to pay to see “everything.” However, I realized that it didn’t include the price to climb the Great South Tower of St Vitus Cathedral; to do that, I had to pay an extra 150 CZK. For L, it wasn’t worth it for her to pay the 350 CZK if she just wanted to go up the Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city, but it wasn’t something we noted when we bought the tickets, so make sure to clarify what your tickets include and don’t include.
150 CZK extra and 287 steps to climb later, was the Great South Tower of St Vitus Cathedral worth it? Yes and no. Yes, because I enjoyed the challenging climb, only to be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city (I also got a free souvenir coin); no, because there are other hills where you can get a comprehensive view of the city without the price tag.
After spending the afternoon exploring the Prague Castle, it was time for lunch and I decided to have goulash. I had read that goulash is a staple dish and a must-try in Prague. Hungarian in origin, it’s basically a soup or stew consisting of beef and veggies that’s garnished with paprika and other spices, and that’s often served with bread or bread dumplings. It was hearty and tasted like comfort food — like childhood, even. And with a Czech Pilsner beer, my afternoon meal was complete.