When I was sixteen, I had my first trip happen, quite far outside my home country. As probably most kids, I was scared more than I was happy about it, for while no one forced me and I definitely wanted to go, at the same time I was sleepless and it was a distant country. I went there with my sister and her friend, two extremely different people, and yet I was different from both of them too, so in the end it felt like I was going alone all along. Mostly I spoke to this grandmotherly woman that sat with me, because sister sat with her friend and there were no more empty spaces in the bus we went on.
We went past Poland, which took a lot of time to do and in total we spent around 24hrs on the bus (with stops for bathroom and snacks), just riding forwards. There were meadows of sunflowers, blue sky and ever increasing heat (eventually it reached 32C*), which I hated then, but would love to experience now. Now and then we’d stop for sight-seeing in both Poland and Czech Republic, which included a beer brewery. My sister, being slightly a bold ass bought herself beer and was persuading me to at least take a sip, saying parents won’t know anyways. Funny how no one ever believes you if you say you don’t drink if you’re a teenage. I asked her instead to not drink, because it was hot and we were on a moving bus, she might get sick and what the heck would I do then with her? Well I know I’d ditch her ass, but the other part of me was worried, knowing that no, no I won’t.
Eventually we reached Czech and went on to Prague, where I left my heart.
The place is like one big Old-Town, which it probably is. There’s plenty of cool drinking fountains, I soon found, and just as plenty of sights to gawk at. It’s where I saw for the first time the simple things that gave me hope that my future might not be a grey-scale of a suit. Purple dreadlocks, pink dresses worn by men (that’s not common, don’t get any wrong ideas about Prague lads), the smell of green fairy, goths in all their beauty, alt type of stores, lolita dress-ups and such a many of statues, sculptures, paths and alleys to get lost in, colors and paintings everywhere in broad sight.
We ate lunch at pizza-place of some sort. That was my first and I think only bad experience, because pizza was terrible. Waiters looked like lads who strip for money after work hours, but that’s that. It was compensated plenty later on in the evening, when I found a pasta place at the corner of the market in the middle of the square (if you’re facing the famous clock, it should be somewhere on your right, now where exactly I can’t tell anymore). It was delicious and the woman that served us was amazing, even if she didn’t understand a word we spoke. And yes, I was the only one in our trio who could mutter more than two words in other languages. Here’s what I learned from that – there people won’t talk russian, because that part of the Slavs is probably a bit too far away for them to have it so commonly spoken as, say, we have. They won’t talk german either, unless you talk to young adults. And english is only common among the really young ones, teen year people. Now, I was sixteen eight years ago, so that shouldn’t say you a thing of what people in Prague are like nowadays. And if I get another trip there – I shall inform you how’s the chatting now.
So, here we are, first day out of the three in Czech R. It’s hot and it’s gorgeous and magical in so many ways. Gold Lane for instance, legends of Golems still alive and told a plenty. And bridges and bridges and bridges. According to J. Stroud and his stories of Bartimaeus, the Djinni, once a bridge is built, a djinni is entombed into one, for good luck. And just as Bartimaeus loved Prague, so did I love it too. It would’ve been even greater if my sister wouldn’t kept leaving me all alone in a strange place with strange people just to have a secret smoke. Until I confronted her about it and told her I don’t give a damn and won’t tell parents as long as she stops, literally, smoking up our time there.
Bus trips usually mean you go to a specific place with a group and a guide that simply leaves you be now and then. Our time went up and she gathered us to visit another place. Karlovy-Vary. That was the first time I understood my physical shape is a total crap and that having two smokers in the family leaves me passive-smoking for two too. I was out of breath, sore legs, sweat dripping when we reached the top of that gorgeous place. It’s a castle like I never seen before, massive in size, strange in color and on such a mountain! The higher you went – the cheaper the shops around were, as we were told by the guide and soon on top I figured out why – it’s a challenge that many fail, to climb up all the way. But I did it. And I got a sword necklace for my friend, but she spent like two days being a goth herself and turned back into being a prep-popular-girl, which meant that swords aren’t her thing anymore. I got a helmet key-chain for another friend, he carries it around even now, which I’m very happy about. Got a fake dagger for myself, didn’t like it much, but sister insisted this and no other. And a freshly-hammered olden-time coin a giant man kept making there, which I still have too. It was still quite hot when he gave it to me.
The inner part of the castle was beyond amazing. They had people sing ballads in ancient dresses, with lutes and flutes creating music I never heard before. There was a man with an owl, offering a picture to those willing to spend a buck or two. There was a palm-sized puppy someone brought in, so very tiny I still don’t know how it survived the crowds. And then there was the walking down the hill. Our guide left us again but warned us: be late 5 minutes – you shall enter the bus via front door, singing, the bus will sing with you. Be late 10 minutes, you enter through back door, singing, but the bus won’t sing with you anymore. Be late 15 minutes, enter singing, but the bus is already gone. So I ditched sister and her friend, who again wished to smoke and went on to get more pretty things. Like masks, glass beads and things I already forgot all about.
Next stop was a place of which the name I don’t remember anymore. It was a resort type of a place, full of little fountains with true mineral water pouring, still so very hot that sometimes it reached over 60C*, or so we were told. Naturally we tasted them all and it had indeed this distinct taste and was very, very hot. Flowers and sculptures everywhere again. I don’t know how can a place be so gorgeous, but it was.
And of course we went to wax-museum. We saw the Good Soldier Švejk and a monument of some sort for plague victims. We got into this trolley thing that uses cords to go high up to get into a gorgeous tall place, where I figured I don’t fear heights for the first time too, to sightsee and was it marvelous! The greatest places of all look no more than candy-lands from very high up. The trees below seem bushes pretending to be trees and the birds are courageous enough to land beside you and maybe look at where the hell are you looking, human.
And the third day in we went back to Prague itself. Saw ballet of Romeo And Juliet, a gorgeous one too, even if I was too little to have a fair say in it – I still enjoyed it very much. We went across the bridges again, petting the dog on one of them, for good luck and wish-come-true’s (there’s the djinn story for you yet again), and I bought my very first gothy-item. A coffin shaped bag that eventually, after like 6 years of loyal serving, gave out on it’s zipper and I had to replace it. I still keep it, it’s my favorite useless item that I have, I think. Definitely a best memory-sake.