Greetings from a hostel in Vienna where as soon as this post goes up I’m going to bed because I’ve come down with some stupid head cold and I feel like hell.
I’m a post behind on Berlin but for good reason. See, the Berlin post tackles some difficult subjects and I want to make sure I give it the attention and thought it deserves. I have written and re-written this post at least three times already, so, it’s getting there.
Anyways, I have just come from Prague so here is a short recap:
Days spent: 3.5
Beers Tried: 15
Fun Cocktails Had: 3
Gelato Eaten: 5+ cones
New Friends Made: 3
Sights Seen: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town Hall, Astronomical Clock, Old Jewish Cemetery, Terezin Concentration Camp
I celebrated my 30th birthday a few days ago and being able to celebrate with at least one family member, my little brother Andrew, was a relief. If he wasn’t there I think I would have felt pretty lonely. But thankfully he accompanied me from Berlin to Prague where we spent 2.5 days (he left a day early) walking around, exploring, and apparently getting sick (he also came down with a head cold).
While my brother has traveled before, he has never been to Europe, so some of those classic European things (think gothic architecture, grand cathedrals, old buildings) he has never experienced before. In Berlin, everything is pretty modern since the city was almost entirely bombed and destroyed in WWII. So while he loved learning about the history, he missed out on some of those quintessential European things.
Prague, in contrast, is your classic picturesque European city. We walked down cobblestone streets where rows and rows of buildings had large wooden front doors decorated in sculptures and carved stone. The old Town Hall still remains and the old gothic cathedrals with all their spires still rise above all of the red-roofed houses of the city.
At Prague Castle in particular there is Cathedral (St. Vitus Cathedral) that took over 600 years to build. The cathedral was built in the old gothic style and is composed of hundreds of thousands of pieces of glass for its stained glass windows. The inside holds giant flying buttresses, a giant rose window and a beautiful golden altar at the front.
As someone who has seen I can’t even tell you how many churches and cathedrals in Europe (3 months in London will do that to a person), seeing this cathedral wasn’t all that shocking. Unfortunately, once you’ve seen one, two, ten, twenty cathedrals and churches (especially the Vatican) you’ve seen them all.
But Andrew hasn’t seen any of this architecture before. This is his first time in Europe. So while the outside of the church was impressive alone, when we walked inside his eyes widened and all he said was “wow.”
It took me by surprise honestly because for me this is what I have come to expect of gothic cathedrals. But having his reaction be one of immediate awe and wonder brought me back to when I first saw this type of architecture nine years ago. I hate to admit it but I almost forgot how amazing this stuff is, how incredible the structure is both in function and beauty. I almost forgot to be impressed.
Similar to how I assume parents feel when they take their kids to Disney for the first time, when your kid lights up upon seeing the Magic Kingdom or their favorite character, parents also get brought back to a state of child-like wonder. Andrew’s reaction did exactly that for me.
It reminded me of how amazing all of these sites and cities I’m visiting are. It reminded me to appreciate all of this architecture and all this history that I don’t get at home. It reminded me to take a breath, and to look (really look) and admire the beauty in these cities.
I have a little more than 20 days left on this trip which seems like enough time and not enough time simultaneously, and I know it’s going to fly. I want to make sure I am really taking in everything each city has to offer. I want to make sure I appreciate what I’m doing, what I’m seeing, and how I’m moving around throughout this trip. I don’t want to wake up towards the end and feel like I didn't appreciate and value the things I saw and did during this experience.
So, my goal for the remainder of the trip is to try to remind myself of my brothers reaction. I’m hoping by remembering his reaction to the cathedral, I can remind myself to look at everything from a place of wonder and awe as well.
Until the next post…