At Charles Bridge.
….as you walk across this 14th century stone bridge linking the two sides
of Prague. It’s perfect for holding hands, for stopping to intertwine your body
with the one you love, to lean against one of the 30 Baroque statues flanking
the bridge, and get lost in the warmth of a kiss.
It’s hard not to want to share the fairy-tale views of the Prague skyline with your
significant other. The moment you see the wide expanse of the river that flows
beneath the bridge, the Prague Castle towering above in its eminent position,
the moment you hear the trumpets of that jazz band playing Mississippi blues
right by the Mala Estrana bridge tower, you’ll want to love, again, for the
first time, or just love more.
For many years the only decoration on the bridge was a simple crucifix, but the
Catholic Church’s lust for ornamentation resulted in 30 statues being erected
between 1600 and 1800.
The oldest statue and probably the most relevant for those seeking and/or wishing
for long-lasting love, is that of John of Nepomuk, an archbishop who was
tortured and thrown off this very bridge at the behest of King Wenceslaus back
in the 14thcentury. And what does the saint have to do with love?
Everything. The king suspected that his wife was having an affair and because
Nepomuk was her confessor, the king demanded to know the name of her lover, but
the priest refused to break the Seal of the Confessional. So he died. Three reliefs below the statue depict his refusal to divulge the queen’s
confessions, his torture and death by drowning. Touching the third relief is
supposed to bring luck, protect one’s secrets and to defend one against
Because of its Absinthe Bars
Absinthe, the 45-75 % alcohol-content Green Fairy, associated with hallucinations, suicides, madness, criminal behavior, and the creative genius of artists such as Picasso, Oscar Wilde and Van Gogh, while forbidden in many countries including most of the USA, is widely available in Prague. The ingredient responsible for The Green Fairy's colorful reputation is called thujone, a compound extracted from wormwood oil. But do not fret for in Prague, you can walk into an absinthe bar and have the bartender fix you a shot, or many, of 75% absinthe with the highest possible concentration of thujone and even cannabis if you so desire.
A glass of absinthe is not your regular shot of Cuervo tequila. No siree. Like everything worth trying it requires a ritual of sorts, a foreplay if you will.
Pour half of your absinthe into the appropriate glass.
Place a perforated spoon on the rim of the glass.
Place a sugar cube atop the spoon.
Slowly drip a bit of absinthe onto the sugar cube.
Light the absinthe-soaked sugar cube.
Continue drizzling the remaining absinthe until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Drink with abandon.
Stay thirsty my friend.
Because Kafka lived there all his life and this statue, erected 80 years after his death, is right on Dusni Street to keep his legacy alive. This sculpture is inspired by the events of Kafka's short story "Description of a Struggle." This Kakfa made of bronze, rides on the back of an empty suit, as if the reason for this existence is solely to lift the man above the ground and get a better view of his surroundings.
Because it's old and even the most inconspicuous alley carries within its cobbles 1,100 years of history.
Because even modern doors devoid of pomp or notoriety seem to have been knocked on by the whole of humankind.
Because it is Romanesque and Gothic and Romantic and touched by Renaissance and Modernism and nobody cares which period was the best or the worst.
Because Prague's story is terribly violent and deeply religious and fiercely secular and outrageously literate and devastatingly beautiful....it could also be defined in any variation of the above. That's why.
Because these men sat on a park bench at the Old Town Square to swig an unidentifiable drink out of a paper bag, chain-smoke, and share a loaf of dry bread while peacefully soaking in the wintry Praguian sun.
Because these winos, we tourists call Praguers, Praguians, Czechs, have Celtic blood running through their veins and can very well be descendants of their ancestral Roman Emperors.
Because I found these two men with wrinkled faces, yellow finger nails, cheap cigarettes and bagged brew chitchatting right where the Protestant Reformation was conceived; probably right on the same spot where a few centuries ago eleven political leaders were sentenced to death by defenestration; that so Praguian habit of throwing nasty politicians out of the window.
Because in Prague I was reminded of the universal commonality of friendship. Like the old men I photographed in Sicily, in Timbuktu, in Costa Rica, they represent what getting old and having a pal is all about.
Soak in the sun. Pass the booze. Shut up and breathe
Because you can adopt a fully postrate position in the middle of a busy street, rattle a few coins inside an empty can, break tourists’ hearts, collect some Euros, then get up, dust your knees off and walk into a bar to guzzle a tall glass of green absinthe of the highest cannabis content available on the market. Repeat when the astonished tourists have moved on.
Because apparently books make great sculpting material. This tower is made of nothing but books kept together with pockets of calculated air, love for books, and a very Praguesian conviction that anything built upon words is meant to stand the test of time.
Because you can stop on any corner downtown and have a glass of hot wine with corn, or a glass of hot wine with the Czech equivalent of cinnamon rolls, made in-situ in front of your eyes, or skip the starchy distractions and focus on having one glass of hot wine after the other.