As my month long adventure in Prague, comes to a close, I have taken some time to reflect on the experiences throughout this trip. Thinking back towards my initial reactions to Prague, I realize and understand that Prague cannot be defined merely through what one observes. Prague especially cannot be determined in a short period of time. Overall, Prague is an intricate place full of amazing history, a general excitement in the citizens, and a great place to study and experience.
The most surprising element of Prague has been the natural beauty. Prior to arriving in Prague, I had only read and heard about the historical landmarks in the heart of the city. Every list I encountered mentioned spots like St. Vitus Cathedral, the Astronomical Clock, or Wenceslas Square. Even though I have spent plenty of time at these spots and find them beautiful and intriguing, the natural parks and green areas dispersed throughout the city, in my opinion, help to give Prague its very distinct personality. Although Letna Park and the beer garden within is my most visited outdoors spot (as mentioned in the previous post), there are numerous other outdoor areas, both small and large, that are constantly used for recreational activities. The run up Petrin Hill is one of the most beautiful (and difficult hills) I have ever run. Reaching the top of the hill and looking out over Prague, whether it is in the still morning or the bustling afternoon, is an amazing site and I will remember the mental photo forever. This past weekend, there was an event in Letna Park for Praha 7 Day (which is the area we live in). A large portion of the people who live in Prague 7, as well as many individuals and families who do not, made their way to Letna to enjoy live music, great food and drinks, as well as everyone’s company.
Another interesting impression that I believe I was initially incorrect about is in regards to the citizens of Prague. Initially, I found many of these people cold and unfriendly. No one smiled at anyone or made conversation while waiting for the tram or metro. However, as I continued to experience the city, I began to realize an optimism and happiness in most of the people that we talked to. Even though their faces may be lacking smiles, the majority of people I have met in Prague hold an extremely optimistic view on life, which I believe contributes significantly to the outgoing nature of the Czech people. The Praha 7 Day allowed myself and a few others in our group the ability to see neighbors and friends get together in a public space. I was able to observe the lifelong friendships that so many of these individuals had. Most restaurants in Prague 7 were represented at the festival. It was fun watching the owners of these restaurants interact with their loyal customers and good friends in the care free, outdoor scenario that the festival provided for.
Perhaps the changes I notice as I get to know Prague better can be attributed to the changing weather. The muggy, rainy opening week of this trip compared with the sunny, cool days that are currently occurring create two extremely different moods for the city. The better the weather has become, the more people stroll along the Vltava and stop for a beer at one of the beer gardens. Today, as we “strolled” home from our final Café Louvre brunch, we stopped at one of the smaller beer gardens along the Vltava that had a man singing and playing the guitar. As I sat down and looked around me, all I saw were smiles and laughter coming from others sitting around me and from the paddle boats in the Vltava. When I think about what Prague truly embodies, I feel that my experience at the beer garden today serves as an accurate portrayal: a city filled with a rich history, a care free culture, and a cold beer wherever you please.