Out at night
AT 9:30 PM I was still outside, with street names I couldn’t read properly, at roughly 4-10 degree temperatures, until I found an inscription that read “Mustak,” a train station. My feet hurt. From Charles Bridge, I wanted to hit Old Town but got lost. My guide, whom I’d meet a day later, would tell me the Czechs don’t know how to define squares. (I suppose the Austrians are the same—the platzes aren’t exactly isometric and four-sided).
Central European men, most likely drivers, were smoking outside, their taxis parked on an alley I hadn’t been to before. Or maybe I’d been there already, only that it was already dark. Groups of tall college students were shouting in the middle of the street—they seemed very happy, as I was—and were probably drunk, and I wasn't.
I wasn’t afraid of getting nabbed—there was nothing to steal. I’d later learn, too, that Prague is one of the safest cities on earth, even if the people are towering and muscular they can easily grab anything I hold on to. (The Czech Republic also has the highest obesity prevalence in Europe, but I hardly saw fat people). But they always greeted me good morning, have a nice day, and the people behind the counter counted the kronos for me. (Didn’t I already tell you I’m awfully bad at numbers and coin-counting that I had outsourced the task—by faith—to the people employed by the establishments?)
Narodní, where the National Theater is, was still out of sight after I had alighted the Metro. It was my landmark, my hostel only a few meters away from it. Apparently I took train B instead of A, but immediately made the necessary transfers. The train stations, with walls in marble and typography in, I don’t know what, were underground, and could be accessed by steep escalators. I wish there were more English translations, but the trains were fast and on time and infinitely better that the MRTs at home.
I wish I could speak the language and had spent more time here: as if I had stepped into a history book, with fresh air and street music and inviting smell of food.
Too tired to even do anything, I washed my face and slept as soon as I had gotten back to my room. It took only two days for Prague to charm me entirely.