Sunshine shimmers on worn cobblestones,
Heat embraces you as you step out the door,
Crossing the street is a dance,
No crowds here in New Town—
You figure you’ve got at least 15 minutes to your first real encounter,
For now you have the swans gliding over Vltava
And old men hosing down the decks of their fishing boats—
You pass by the Standard Hotel on your right and wonder
If the owners are slackers or if maybe no one cares to aim higher
In a city of chill vibes and cheap beer.
Lazy skies over Vltava reflect on living buildings in the water.
You skip over passages with gold accents and street codes that seem strange to you.
This morning you have one objective, one you’ve been looking forward to since the moment you entered the Czech Republic: BRUNCH. At Café Savoy.
And you’re not alone in this. There are others with similar appetites for travel.
No, you don’t have a reservation, but they lead you upstairs anyway. Nice.
Nobody minds that all you do is stare at the ceiling for 10 minutes after you sit down.
Finally the food. Yes, you ordered the works. The Savoy Breakfast: toast, Prague ham, organic Emmental (Swiss) cheese, soft boiled egg, homemade bread, farm butter, homemade jam, nut marble cake, and hot chocolate Savoy—all for 195 CZK ~ $8. Can I live here?
Someday, you will return for another hot chocolate Savoy.
After that scrumptious morning treat, you venture out into the sizzling heat. Midday Prague at this time of year can be brutal, and you have no choice but to keep walking. These cobblestones are everywhere, you think to yourself. Yeah, they are.
All the shade is taken, so just keep going. Oh, God, those steps…
You come up to meet David Černý’s progeny and are, understandably, horrified. There is something of an otherworldly, surreal, lonely quality that makes you step back and glance at the frozen figures only from the corner of your eye, because to look at them directly would be too unsettling. The sculptures, representing the victims of communism, gradually atrophy up the steps, not dying but slowly dissolving, limb by limb.
THE MEMORIAL TO THE VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM IS DEDICATED TO ALL VICTIMS, NOT ONLY THOSE WHO WERE JAILED OR EXECUTED BUT ALSO THOSE WHOSE LIVES WERE RUINED BY TOTALITARIAN DESPOTISM.
Further down the street you meet Sergeant NSG. Jaroslav Janiš (1914 – 1945), “who laid down his life for the sake of the people.”
You are brought up short, full realization of the city’s historical significance slowly dawning on your features. You carry your thoughts with you throughout the rest of your day on Prague’s streets. Once upon a time, Prague meant something entirely different.
You decide to attend the English mass at the Church of Our Lady Victorious, home of the famous Pražské Jezulátko. With a scorching heatwave outside, the cool interior of the church is a godsend.
At the end of the service, you walk up to the main altar, a reminder for the people that it is better to win through the use of spiritual, rather than military, weapons.
You find reassurance in a familiar figure, standing off to the side. With Saint Anthony of Padua watching over you, the warning sign for pickpockets at the entrance no longer worries you.
You find, however, that you are still saddened to see this inside a church.
Your breath catches when you behold the Infant Jesus of Prague, resting gently inside a glass case, globus cruciger in hand. Il Bambino di Praga, the Infant Jesus, protector of the city against plague and destruction during the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648). Had you ever seen a more beautiful savior?
You make a silent wish and pray for His blessings.
As you exit the church, a bronze relief off to the side catches your eye. The motif of a family and their dead child in the rubble of a house clouds your heart. Then you notice the angel on the right, carrying the child’s soul into the eternal kingdom. You leave with mixed feelings.