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Swept up by Prague

Once upon a time, my friend, James, read a novel called Necessary Errors. James liked this book so much and just KNEW that I would, too, so he ordered me a copy and had it shipped to my apartment as a surprise. As expected, I, too, fell deeply for the story, the characters and the setting. Enamored by the culture and meaningful sentiments captured in Necessary Errors, we knew we wouldn’t be able to stay away for long. Four months later, our flights were booked and we set out on our own personal pilgrimage to the novel.

This is how we came to visit Prague.

IMG_2818Necessary Errors is a story of Jacob, a young gay man who leaves his home in America to teach English in Prague in the early 1990s – a time in Czech history when capitalism was new and the country was still very much in transition. The Prague that we landed in this May of 2014 was nothing like the city Jacob experienced, but traces of the country’s rich history were ubiquitous.

To say that Prague was the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen might sound dramatic and overblown, but… I think Prague was the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some beautiful cities. While perusing the Internet/hunting for some nostalgia-inducing images of the city (as one does), I came across this quote about Prague that was just SO REAL:

“Old Prague was a story-book city caked in grime: ancient, soot-blackened. History lived in every detail: in the deerstalker rooftops and the blue-sparking trams. He wandered the streets in disbelief, photographing everything, images from Kafka crowding into his head.” ― Philip Sington, Zoia’s Gold

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James and I spent our days in Prague wandering mostly aimlessly, which was the perfect way to explore this new place that we had discussed in depth and dreamed about for months. Out of pure luck and after close to no research on location, we booked a room in the very center of the city. It ended up being the friendliest, cleanest, most fantastic hostel I’ve ever had the pleasure of slumbering in (except maybe the The Garden Hostel in Sevilla – fun Australian roommates and free sangria every night worked just fine for me). Hostel Orange in Prague was right on Wenceslas Square and was within walking distance of absolutely everything any first-time Prague visitor could want. We were staying on the top floor of the hostel, which meant we had to climb three or four stories of a prettily-painted spiral staircase, but our room was private and the bathrooms were so clean and new! I think our favorite part of the hostel was being able to throw open the big, almost-floor-to-ceiling window and sleep with the cool Czech air flowing in every night.

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Off to start another perfect Czech day!

Because we had no concrete expectations and no itinerary to stick to, we weaved through the streets and along the river in a constant daze. How could one place be so beautiful? We stopped to eat and drink frequently (we were indulging in this delicious country’s specialties – dumplings and beer!) and spent a few hours each day lounging in the sun, reading. We mostly stuck to Milan Kundera, our new favorite Czech author, and tossed in some Kafka to honor him in the city where he was much beloved. If you want to have your heart blown into a million smithereens at the tender, probing insight of Kundera, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Immediately. It will change your life and heart and soul, and until you die you will live in a perpetual state of wanting to be in Prague. (Can’t say I didn’t warn you.)

These next few photos are from our miscellaneous strolls around the city. I have so many photos and so many feelings about Prague that I’ll split them all up into multiple posts.

To start: the Old Town.

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Have you been to Prague? Did you fall madly and deeply in love with the place, too?

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10 Comments

  • Reply kathryningrid

    So far I’ve been to Prague three times, each one magical in its own way. Yes, it’s one of my very favorite cities anywhere, too. The spectacular architecture, the sense of history lying thickly on my shoulders, wonderfully warm and open people, glorious food and drink, a landscape straight out of fairytales, and as much art and culture as anyone can bear to admire in a lifetime or ten—all reasons I love Prague. Of course, I had every reason to fall in love with it in the first place, since that is where (by chance and default) my husband and I started our incredible honeymoon, and our latest visit there ended with (again, by coincidence) his conducting a mass and concert there on our anniversary, so we were surrounded by great friends and fabulous music right there in the city where our overseas travel adventures together had *begun*.

    You are both wise and fortunate to have had this great introduction, and clearly will find in Prague a city as beckoning and rewarding as I know it to be. What a thrill! Happy travels, *wherever* they take you in the years ahead.

    🙂
    Kathryn

    October 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm
    • Reply Kristen Hopf

      I agree with everything you said about Prague. There are so many aspects of the city that were enthralling and worth-mentioning, but it’s nothing like visiting the place yourself to get a real feel for it. I’m planning on going back for an extended stay in the spring. Can’t wait! Thanks for your super thoughtful comments!

      October 2, 2014 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply MissLilly

    I haven’t been yet but looking forward to go. Hopefully early next year. kundera! Great choice, love his books

    October 13, 2014 at 3:25 am
    • Reply Kristen Hopf

      Kundera is the best! I’ll be back in Prague next year too. I hope you get the chance to go!

      October 13, 2014 at 10:11 am
  • Reply psychologistmimi

    how lovely. I may try to go there during my trip to berlin

    November 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm
    • Reply Kristen Hopf

      Definitely definitely definitely worth a trip!

      November 2, 2014 at 8:38 am
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