(FYI: I had not yet heard about Gramma when this was written.)
Our second day in Prague began at 3:00 a.m. Not by choice. By demand. By little L and his ‘body rhythm adjustment,’ you know, jet lag. (By the way, I took those “No Jet Lag” homeopathic pills coming here and I must do an endorsement because they worked like a medieval charm!) But little L, completely out of sorts, was all ready to romp and roll in the wee hours – those hours that Ilia and I are clinging to like a life preserver.
Thankfully, about maybe an hour(?), two hours (?) later, I got fed up with trying to motherly ‘ease’ him back to sleep in our bed and stuck him in his playpen where he soon was back in dreamland. Yay!! And then, remarkably, WE had to wake HIM up at 9:30 am so we could make it to breakfast in time.
The creperie restaurant, where our free breakfast is served, is a lovely little Eastern European gem. It feels like a cellar garden. Many shops and restaurants here feel like caves. They are small, sunken in, dark, stony and full of mystery and magic. I love it. Last night Ilia and I were talking about the Prague we ‘hope’ to see…and I set my intentions on the ‘secret places’ of Prague – and today, that’s what we found!!
I like our laissez-faire way of traveling. We don’t get all caught up in maps and tours and schedules and “to-see” lists. We have some priorities: the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, the parks: Letna and Petrin, Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square…and of course, marionette shops, toy stores and black light theatre/puppet shows! The rest is up to Serendipity. And that’s where we went today: into the colourful hands of Serendipity!
We made it to the Old Town Square (Stare Mesto), walking, even though all the residents tell us “it’s too far to walk”, it was actually only about 20 minutes. I have a new theory about the residents. The trains or trams or streetcars…or as they will be known in Toronto – the “LRT”…are popular here. Seem to be more popular than cars or bikes or the good old feet. I think it is because it is so easy to hitch a free ride. You buy your tickets at the news/smoke shop. You get on any door of the train. You ride. It’s fast and efficient and separate from the street traffic. No one checks your ticket. I imagine they must have “ticket police” in some realm, but we have yet to meet them. Tonight we took the train with the same tickets we bought yesterday. Pretty good deal, huh? ;)
Anyway, we ended up back at the Municipal House, checked our minimalist map, veered into a new direction and VOILA! Slam dunk, we were in the Old Town. Man, is it ever a sight to see. We passed lots of fancy hotels. (Our hotel is 20 minutes from the “touristy” parts, which is awesome because the neighbourhood is cheaper, quieter and a super place to boot.) We sauntered over cobblestone streets. I began to feel like a mama ape with little L hanging off my front carrier, happier than a pearl in an oyster! We saw everything together.
I cannot tell you the JOY that fills me (and Ilia) to share the wondrousness of the world with our little Boosha. There is so much joy that I was hardly afraid of flying this time. I focused on positive imaginings, but even when my fearful thoughts started to creep in, I said to myself, “If I am with these 2 guys, how could I possibly worry? I am surrounded by love.” What a beautiful feeling. And I also do not want Elliott to feel my fear. I want him to be excited by experiences, by moments, by Life. To feel the thrill of flying and planes and weightlessness, the anticipation of new cultures, the rapture of adventure! And that makes me my happiness greater than my fear. Also, it was a blessing in disguise to have the C-section almost 1 year ago today. It was a HUGE lesson for me in letting go. To trust. To forget about control. To keep the faith.
Faith. In the Old Town. Surrounded by Gothic churches, medieval clocks, cobblestone squares of people hanging out, cafes, street markets (the same one from yesterday and this time we were able to enjoy it and buy toys!), ‘secret’ toy & puppet & book shops in the caverns of the neighbourhood, Starbucks, opulent architectural masterpieces, many Chinese ‘bistros,’ hidden courtyards, a few drunkards (the city has gone to great lengths to “protect” the tourists from these ‘delinquents’ and beggars), massive droves of tourist groups from every corner of the globe, labyrinthine streets, monuments, ornate and GIANT doorway entrances.
And then there are the unexpected treats awaiting in those moments of changing Elliott’s diapers. There are the dilemmas: where to change him in the middle of stone and cobblestone? A public bench will do. A covered fountain will do. No change table at the Starbucks? A cushioned bench amongst the customers will do! And the friends who await: the 3 lovely, older Japanese ladies in their sun-shielding summer hats; the little Italian boy playing hide-and-seek with Elliott at the fountain; the numerous strangers he enchants with his flirtatious waving; the Czechs whose hearts he melts with his smile.
And now, our little international Peacemaker is snoozing like a little lamb and we are sipping wine, nibbling on cheese, making some din-din, hanging out our large windows (without screens), watching the barhoppers – that other side of Prague that us young parents will not participate in but rather ‘eavesdrop’ on like the local seniors – and just soaking in every relaxing, invigorating, gorgeous evening moment.
Speaking of barhoppers, there was another fun moment I overheard earlier, downstairs in the lobby. I was (finally!) figuring out how to access the free wireless as guests were checking in, mainly English-speaking ones. I have found the desk clerk to be one of those ‘standoffish’ Czech-types and now I see why. There is a little bit of nationalism going on with him, not necessarily in a bad way. He is proud of his ‘freedoms.’ A young American girl was asking him about the bars. This was the icing on the verbal cake for me:
U.S. chick: Will I need my passport to get into the bars?
Smoking, Czech clerk: (A little confused) What?
U.S. chick: You know, for I.D.?
Smoking, Czech clerk: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Are you kidding? This isn’t the U.S. We can drink all we want. We can drink on the street. We even smoke weed in the bars! Man, it must be terrible in the U.S.!
And there you have it. We Czech in; we Czech out. We Czech our blood pressure and our assumptions. We Czech things out. We sit back. We en-JOY.