That Prague exists in tangible form somehow escaped my imaginings. Prague has always been the dark heart of fantasy, shrouded in mist and rhyme, colourless. So I wept, overpowered by reality, when I reached out my hand to touch the base of St. Peter on Charles Bridge, wept as I did at the Kremlin wall, to find myself standing on the very stones of history. Prague does exist outside of novels and photographs, rime a-plenty, invaded as it were by the colors of tourism. Modern humanity juxtaposed against spiritualism seems more unnatural than any gruesome tale of Kafka. I am touring the husk of a long-dead beetle. I am out of time, walking among ghosts without the reverence of fear.Yet, having dined on the terrace atop au Prince, my eyes having taken their fill of red roofs and spires, the Castle set fire by sunset, I am grateful to be a part of that human stain on this city, siphoning a sense of joy far removed from the allegory of Prague.
Prague disappointed me greatly, at first. I expected the Old Prague that may have existed two hundred years ago in mist and noble shadows. I wanted a glimpse of the Golem. Modern Prague is a Potemkin Village, put up for tourists during the day and then removed for spirits at night. Souvenir stands cling like barnacles to the cobblestones, drowning in this wading pool of artificial culture. But turn left or right off those tourist thoroughfares and you’ll find peace in a hidden courtyard or bare alley. There Prague remains, as if it, too, retreats from the invading hordes, giving up the Charles Bridge and the Castle and Old Town Square in triage, hiding its secrets instead within the courtyards and walls of narrow streets and residences. Petrin Hill stands as the last remaining bastion of old Prague, the high ground almost always sterile of international pestilence. There you are free to fall in love with the true character of Prague - that comfortable introvert behind a face of public fame.