So . . . Prague happened. Having completed my traveling for this semester, Prague is second only to Berlin in my mind. Prague was something else. Within one hour of being in the city I had fallen in love. I knew it was going to be good when I walked into a main square and saw a Christmas tree silhouetted in front of an amazing, Gothic church façade. And it was more than good; it was great. The Christmas markets had great food (especially gnocchi with sauerkraut) and high quality products that made my Christmas shopping pretty easy. Inside the castle complex I discovered my new favorite church in Europe: St. Vitus’ Cathedral. It was a spectacular example of Gothic architecture, and I am a sucker for beautiful Gothic churches. There were great views and tons of cool museums. But more than anything else, Prague had a unique atmosphere.
Prague was the perfect mix of old and new. I’ve been in cities that have felt really old (like Rome) and in cities that are ancient and magnificent (like Siena). I’ve seen cities that have embraced modern society (like Berlin). Prague was the first city that seemed to have bridged the divide between the old and new. Sections of the city, such as the castle complex, had the charm and wonder I would expect from a fairytale. Other areas, such as one near the National Monument, were modern, bustling thoroughfares. But regardless of my location, it was always uniquely Prague. The city had not lost its identity to the modern world, nor was it stuck in the past refusing to adapt to a changing world. I’ll be coming back to Prague.
Now, just to wrap everything together (as it relates to traveling), here are my top three trips of the semester: in first, Berlin; in second, Prague; in third, Bern. The one thing these cities have in common is a great ambiance and unique character. Simply being in these cities was enjoyable – sitting in a café for hours would be awesome in any one of these cities. And of all the cities I’ve visited on this trip, these are the three that I want to go back to more than any others. So, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.”