The Ped-Streets of Prague

Prague from above

Something that I have been taking advantage of on this trip is the pedestrian friendly city of Prague. I’ve been trying to go on a walk every day, plus in addition to trying to burn the beer, potato pancake and sausage calories off I have the luxury of some free Val time for a small part of the day.

Today when I got home from school I decided to take a route had not taken before. After about 10 minutes of wandering, I was surprised to learn I knew exactly where I was, and how to get home. A similar thing happened yesterday when I got off at a different tram stop and tried to navigate. It’s actually pretty cool to get lost, but know where you are, if that makes sense. Something I’m figuring out is it’s ok to have no idea what you’re doing and where you are, because that means you get to trust yourself to make your way home. I guess this goes for life too, but I won’t get all philosophical on you.

Another fun part of my walks is trying to imagine who lived in the buildings I go by. This is especially fun in Prague 1, which is the oldest neighborhood here, and the one containing the castle. I like to think that a King, Queen or Saint lived in each one. Probably not true, but it excites my imagination so I go with it. It also helps that I’ve begun learning about some of these historical figures in Czech Cultural History Class. A story from today:

St. Agnes was a bohemian princess way back in the 13th century. She was a rich, beautiful and cunning woman who got caught up in a series of politically inspired arranged marriages. These engagements never came to fruition for a few reasons, and one of them even caused her father, King Otakar, to go to war. Anyways, after all this, she simply said no any more arranged marriages because she refused to be a pawn in the political dealings of men. She also decided to give up all of her wealth, and become a nun. She started her own hospital and convent in Prague, and could be compared to a Mother Theresa of her era. After her death, she was venerated (put up for Sainthood) but her body was lost (possibly in one of the Crusades) and the process was postponed. There was a prophecy that when she eventually became a Saint for real, Bohemia would be blessed with a golden age. Well funny thing is, Agnes was finally made into a Saint November 10th, 1989, and about a week later communism fell, giving “Bohemia” freedom. Pretty legit right?

So those are the kinds of stories I think about on my walks, along with a few other things. Like how I’m ever going to understand words without consonants, and the ridiculously complicated language of Czech.

Na shledanou!

Valerie Zawada
Prague, Czech Republic
Spring 2012

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