Prague Part 1

Monday, August 17, 2020


Prague Castle with view of St. Vitus Cathedral

One of the trips I took during medical school was to Prague, Czechia during Easter break. With a few other friends, we booked a bus roundtrip ticket and stayed at a Marriott a few tram stops from the city center. The bus ride was eight hours long, the longest bus trip I have ever taken. Our bus was full of students headed to different parts of Europe. Looking back, the bus ride was an interesting experience and very cheap compared to flying but the flight would have been only two hours long and on a trip of a short interval, that would have given me more time to explore the city. 

    Nevertheless, we were on our way in a double-decker bus full of colourful people and varied scents lofting through space. There was a washroom on the bus but I have an aversion to using cramped smelly washrooms in spaces where there is a possibility of getting stuck and extremely strong odours. So as you can imagine, I held my bladder tight until we reached our hotel. One of the pros of long drives is watching the scenery change and transform as the landscape and cities change. This constant motion drifts my mind into different mazes of my imagination in which I get lost as I daydream and conjure up thoughts that I feel based on what I observe outside my window. The music I am listening to on long trips is always on random shuffle with the hopes that it helps mould my thoughts and musings to match with the scenery before me. In this way, I traveled through Europe with the melancholy of Bollywood love songs, the mesmerizing sounds of ATB, punctuated with varied rock and pop music. The takeaway from this is that having a window seat is a must. 

We arrived in Prague in the afternoon at a very random location in the city and we were already lost. We needed to find sim cards that would work here so that we could navigate our way through with the help of Google maps and Uber. We were reluctant to trust cab drivers as they are notorious for overcharging tourists. Also, I was starving so I required a baguette to replenish my system so that my mind would be working. 

    We dropped our bags off at our hotel and freshened up before heading out again. Our goal today was to find the meeting place for tomorrow's walking tour of the palace in Prague's city center. We headed to the subway tram and tried to figure out which tickets we should order but it was a pretty big struggle since we could not read the language and there was no option for English. After a fifteen-minute intensive discussion we picked the student ticket and figured we should be okay as we had our school IDs with us and headed towards what we hoped would be the appropriate platform. As soon as we stepped off the train at our designated stop two officers blocked our path and demanded to see our tickets. 

    We showed them our tickets hoping to be on our way but they told us we were in trouble because we did not have the right ticket. We tried our best to explain to them that we were students and thought we had ordered the appropriate ticket and even showed our identification cards. The officers demanded to see our passports which we reluctantly handed to them. After browsing through our passports they demanded that we pay the fine right now in cash or we would be taken to jail. Now the palpitations began and my hands started to become clammy because I was not ready to go to jail for the first time in my life over a ticket infraction. However, as a group, we collectively decided we would refuse to pay the fine and claim we were not carrying any cash on us. This really frustrated the officers and we were quite terrified too because they were holding on to our passports and we were afraid they would not return them unless they received their money. Nevertheless, we held our ground and stood fast on our statement that we did not have any money. This situation continued for fifteen minutes after which the officers returned our passports and stomped off. We were shocked. We did not expect to get out of this situation unscathed but somehow we did. For the next few moments, we just stared at each other trying to comprehend what had happened then proceeded to run out of the station to the outside world. 

    The spring air sent chilly wisps of air through my coat as I wrapped it tighter around me. The city was bustling and alive with people everywhere. The architecture was beautiful with several bridges running across the river Vitava beyond which I could see the majestic Prague Castle looming on above situated on a hill. Despite the cold weather, the fire of adventure was burning strong within my chest and I could not wait to see what else we would discover. 

    Evening fell on us quickly and the temperature dropped enough to make our breath fog up the air around us. I was on the hunt for a snack to help keep me warm while we picked a place to have dinner. While walking around my nose picked up the scent of freshly baking bread and I urged my friends to follow me and my nose and see where it takes us. We happened on a bakery selling chimney cakes with various fillings and ice cream choices. In the cold night, my heart, nose, and eyes lit up once again with warm cheer as I happily sauntered into line. My friends thought I was a little crazy but my logic was that the warmth of the bread would harmoniously complement the ice cream and I may be cold afterward but the experience would be worth it. This was my first time having Prague's special dessert and I was in heaven. The warm bread sent smokey signals into the night within which it encased Nutella and vanilla ice cream. I could not have been happier if I tried. I regained some additional strength to continue on the lookout for our dinner destination while reminiscing the delicious experience of the past several minutes.

Until Next Time,

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