When I took my first trip to Europe, I was a bit timid and overwhelmed. I was glad to be with my brother and a tour group. But it only took me a few days to become comfortable with my surroundings, so much so I decided I could follow my own way for a bit.
Our group was on “free time” and my brother and some others wanted to sit in a cafe and eat. I at first sat with them, but quickly became quite agitated that a) I was not hungry and b) why was I “wasting” my time sitting with these people when I could be out seeing something.
Therefore, I quite literally jumped up, made an excuse of some sort, and set off on my own. Bear in mind that I am in a country where I don’t speak the language and I’m about to take off on my blister-laden feet through the sweltering heat that is July in Prague.
Knowing a little bit of the history by now, I knew that one of the Czech Republic’s most holy relics, the Infant of Prague, was contained in the Church of our Lady Victorious. I also knew that our tour would not take us near there.
If you are familiar with Prague, you know that the Vltava River runs through the city and you can cross it via the St. Charles Bridge. When I left my group, I was in the old square in front of the astronomical clock tower and had to find my way to the Bridge and then to the Church. I will talk more of these sights in later blogs.
My first delight was in finding the Havelska Street Market. The booths were filled with all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as souvenirs. I picked up a small clock which was reminiscent of the astronomical clock for less than I had seen in the regular shops. I also indulged in a small bunch of the best grapes I have ever eaten. They were warmed by the sun and full of flavor. I munched on them as I continued my walk to the Bridge.
|Havelska Street Market, Prague|
Just look at those old buildings and cobblestones! Although it was as I said a sweltering heat, everyone was friendly, polite and generally in a good mood. I stopped and looked at every stand before I remembered I was on a mission with a time schedule; I had to be back in the old square by 4pm to meet up with the bus back to our hotel.
I continued on my way and felt a bit lost in searching for the river. All the streets curve and the buildings are high so you can’t really get a good bearing. Lucky for me I am one of those people who can usually remember where I’ve been and have a good sense of direction. I made it to the church and back to the meeting point with time to spare.
I say all that to say, as I was crossing the bridge back I was struck by the thought, “I am doing it.” I had navigated an unknown city, without knowing the language, and I did it all on my own. No one to fall back on, no one to ask what to do next. I was completely independent.
It. Felt. Wonderful.
This feeling stayed with me through trip. But it wasn’t just the independence; I was doing more physically than I ever thought possible. The heat was oppressive, my feet were blistered, my muscles were sore, I was jet lagged, and yet I carried on.
Never give up. Since then I try to incorporate this into my day to day life. Live life to the fullest.