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  • Day43

    Last day in Europe

    September 24, 2019 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Yesterday I explored the Castle side of the river. Today I'd cross it explore Old Town and other areas.

    I started with a morning walk across the Charles Bridge. It's everything folks have said about it-- lovely, beautiful views, flanked by statues, and packed with tourists and vendors. It took about 20 minutes to stroll across, as I stopped frequently to check out the views, or listen to jazz musicians playing on the bridge.

    Once across, I took a subway out to one of Prague's suburbs. This let me get beyond the tourist-packed center, and see a bit of what locals see every day. After exiting the subway, it took about 15 minutes to stroll to a spot I wanted to see-- the Žižkov Television Tower. It wasn't as tall as the one in Berlin, but it's futuristic design-- and the statues of babies crawling up the side-- made it a unique sight.

    The observatory was closed for a private party, so I settled for a couple drinks in the cafe near the base. One was beer, the other was Kofola-- an alternative soft drink from communist times, when Coca Cola wasn't available. Glad I tried it, but wasn't a big fan (powerful licorice and herbal flavors)

    From there I walked back toward the center of town. WhenI got to Wenceslas Square, I started a Rick Steves audio tour I'd downloaded, and let him steer me for the next couple hours. It was a great call-- I got excellent background on the sights I was seeing, and was even pointed to a few out of the way places I'd have missed on my own.

    The tour ended in Prague's Old Town, near the Charles Bridge I'd crossed earlier. Dusk was falling, the bridge was calmer-- though far from abandoned-- and the setting sun painted the castle and rooftops across the way. I strolled across it again, admiring the statues and the river below, and found myself feeling melancholy as I contemplated this trip I'd been on.

    The past weeks *had* been an accomplishment and adventure like I'd hoped, filled with many experiences-- most good, some less so. I'd seen cities I wanted to see-- Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Dresden. I rode along the Rhine and Danube, two rivers I've wondered about for a long time, I spent time with really cool people, Marliese and Wolfgang, Joey and her family.

    But I also confronted feelings of loneliness, of physical frailty, of feeling no longer young. I spent much of it with parts of myself I'd hoped to move beyond-- the Joe who overeats, who seeks approval too much, who spends hours playing games and editing pictures.

    I know I expressed parts of myself I do like-- curiosity, warmth, resourcefulness. I know in time I'll have a more balanced view of this chapter. But right now I'm feeling tired, a bit blue, and very ready to go home. I have things to do there. And maybe that is my next adventure.
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