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Time and Prague Heal All Wounds

Text by: Jenni Anne Bushman

Sunset. Charles Bridge in Prague. To my left is an eighty-ish year old woman, the Feed the Birds lady from Mary Poppins. With the occasional flick of her wrist she speckles seed onto the brown cobblestone, and her pigeon friends scramble around her, pecking mechanically. To my right, a young, Native American looking bloke, with lustrous jet-black hair and intense eyes, strums acoustic electric Cat Stevens with a small amp strapped to his belt. His velvet voice soothes the jittery hum of the crowd. Next comes his cover of Hey Jude, and I'm damn near tears.

The gold saturated horizon is broken up only by ancient spires, scores of them jutting into the heavens above the impressive Old Town Bridge Tower. Minutes later, tangerine sky dilutes to a soft gray, and something new streaks out above the city air, thick with history. White club spotlights become the spires of Prague by night, and my new favorite street performer is accompanied by a distant, throbbing bass. He makes it work.

This is Prague - Praha. Magnificence of the ancient and complexity of a modern-day, international thoroughfare catapulted together into this century. Charles Bridge, my Charles Bridge, is a gothic gem connecting the old town with the Prague castle and its surrounding complex. Flowing deep blue and steady beneath me is Czech Republic's longest river, the glorious Vltava. One romantic stroll and I'm sitting here between the Feed the Birds lady and Cat Stevens II, longingly searching Prague real estate on my phone.

Prague has a noteworthy underground train system. A couple subway stops away from my bridge and I'm winding through the historic Golden Lane. The summer night is crowded with activity, club beats, jazz, colored lights, delicious food smells. A couple of college-aged kids are camped out next to a fountain cuddling, keeping warm in the night breeze. The ancient lane is lined with eleven historic houses and part of the aforementioned castle complex. Again I smile at the love affair between old and new. This is one of the oldest streets in Central Europe, but the vibe is young, cool, and happy. I wouldn't say these kids are naïve to its history, but tonight I wouldn't say they seem solemnly in awe of it, either.

Another short metro ride back across the river and I'm smack dab in the middle of it all - Prague's famous Old Town Square, complete with Old Town Hall Tower and world famous astronomical clock. Tourists everywhere, yes, but the vibe is casual and easy like a walk in a park I know well. A couple of smaller tour groups mill around the clock, and I try to eavesdrop some info.

My group has been chatting with some students from the local university, and we're told the city has a thriving jazz scene. One of my jazzophile friends is psyched to check out their picks, and we decide on Jazz and Blues Club Ungelt, just a block away from the Old Town Square. The place is packed and not super fancy, but the talent is nothing short of astounding.

It isn't until well after three in the morning that I am back in my Baroque style room at The Charles, an architectural pearl of a hotel near my bridge — as well as charming, romantic, and reasonably priced. I'm lying here, listening in the night, to the silence, and to the occasional creaks and scrapes of an historic dwelling. As awareness slowly mutes into sleep, I catch one cohesive thought - even dreamland cannot top this day.



PRAGUE MUST-DOS according to Jenni B.

1. Old Town Square. Don't miss the magnificent Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock, which chimes on the hour.

2. Charles Bridge / Old Town Bridge Tower / The Vltava River.

3. Prague Castle / St. Vitus Cathedral, one of the largest castle complexes in the world. And do not miss the Golden Lane.

4. Prague Jewish Museum. This staggering museum holds remnants of five remaining synagogues, one of which has the names of 80,000 Czech Holocaust victims. There is also a poignant exhibit of children's artwork made by youths held in the Theresienstadt (Terezin) camp.

5. Novy Svet near Prague Castle. Theodore Schwinke, former managing editor of Prague Daily Monitor, called it "A medieval Bohemian village tucked behind Prague Castle."

6. Prague Jazz Clubs. Highly recommended are the Jazz and Blues Club Ungelt and Reduta, founded in the 1950's.