I've spent my birthday with 15 strangers talking history, sightseeing with a bottle of beer in my Michael Kors jetsetter bag. In Prague.
PS: I dont carry beer in my bag, on normal basis 🙂 I doubt that's legal anywhere in the world. But when in Prague, we do it the czech way.
I am in Prague first time, so I followed a local advice and took a guided free tour (lovely concept, try-before-you-buy touristic package). I always like to try new experiences when it comes to sightseeing so having this tour was quite a memorable experience.
I found myself in the company of 15 amazing people, from China, Singapore, Canada, UK, US , Argentina and Hungary, from four different sides of the world, but all connected as it turned out, by a strong passion for history (not so much for beer, though). The guy from California was always helpful trying to keep the group together and give directions when one was getting lost, and surprisingly very strong background on Nazis and world war II,though he didn't look like a teacher at all, the lady from Buenos Aires was a Milan Kundera fan, the three friends from Georgia, Atlanta were in their early 20s but so curious to learn history and understand issues related to jewish and communism, they were the first ones to feel guilty ( to- be- read illegal) to walk around Prague carrying a bottle of beer in their hand, the two girls from Singapore showed everyone how to take panoramic- vertical-pictures, since the historical buildings are so tall, the student from UK was studying architecture and loved to give us further details on gothic style, renaissance, baroque,sgraffito style, the young man from Budapest knew everything about beer, Kafka and alchemists, the family from China very shy and contemplative, as for the old man from Vancouver, a Hemingway lookalike, he proved to be more like a father for everyone else in the group,keeping a close eye on each and everyone of us, approaching with wise lessons about historical characters, from Jan Masaryk to Václav Havel, nazis and communists. I had the feeling he was part of history himself, as I found out later, he was on a mission to carry his fathers ashes back to Scotland homeland. His father had fought WWII across Europe and his son was now following his footsteps back in time,on a journey across Europe. As for me, I like to think I have helped everyone in the group with one memorable picture with a very unique cropping, only I can take:) and insights on religious history.
I had never imagined I would be reading latin quotes from the Bible and translate them together with " no-longer-a-stranger" man from Vancouver. He suspected I should know latin ( since I speak Romanian and have background on religion history). We hided our bottles of beer for a few minutes ( to avoid any blasphemy of the moment) and translated word by word Matthew 16:18 verse on a statue : " et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam" which means “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
I told you, we were one of a kind group of tourists, no doubt about it !!!
On top of this magnificent group, there was Angella, leading the way through history. American born, literature teacher, passionate about history, a young-dinamic-walking encyclopaedia type of guide, very documented on every building we crossed by.
Because in Prague, hundreds of years of history are mirrored everywhere around you, waiting to be discovered and more, if possible understood. Everywhere you look, you find something unique to capture on your camera: amazing places and so many legends to be told. The must do list contains : Old Town area, Old town square, Astronomical Clock, Tyn Cathedral, Jewish area with the cemetery and Synagogues, Powder gate, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Vitus Cathedral, Kafka's house, and not at last, the Beer Museum.
This is a short list, of course, Prague is an open space museum.
As Kafka used to say " even for those who don't feel like looking at anything, they will still be carried away by images and noise in the street, and therefore, at last, towards human harmony"