Home Away from Home
Two and a half years later and I am back in the most magical city in the world. I arrived back in Prague about four days ago and just one step off the plane and I remembered why I love this place so much.
As we stepped off the plane the first billboard I saw was one featuring the Old Town of Praha with a warning label, “When your flight takes off from Prague, your heart will remain.” All I thought was how incredibly accurate that was and in that moment I was walking proof of that.
After spending a few days settling into my new apartment in Zizkov (my favorite district of Praha) I took my boyfriend on the free walking tour of the city so he could learn a little more about what it means to be Czech. Listening to our tour guide share the stories of the Czechs and what lies behind the beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets of this city reminded me that there is much more to my love of this city than the beauty. Hearing these stories for the third, sometimes fifth time, didn’t bore me at all, it just solidified that the Czech people are one of a kind.
Over the past 80 years they have been a part of 6 different states, resulting in their national anthem “Where is my home.” When they first became an independent nation in 1918, after WWI, they have about 20 years to enjoy it before Hitler moved in, they were then under Nazi control for the remainder of WWII. When the war was over the Czechs were waiting for their cue, “when do we liberate ourselves?” A German announcement came over the city’s intercom one evening, followed by a Czech song, this meant it was time. The Nazis stormed the building where the announcements were made, but the Czechs had removed all of the German signs in this very large building, so naturally the Nazis got lost and had to send over 30 more troops. Now they have all the Nazis and the Czech Police battling in this building. Then Czech citizens storm the building and slowly, over about 3 days, the citizens are able to take hold of their city. They celebrate in the Old Town Square for one day, when the Soviets show up and say, “We are here to liberate you,” the Czechs reply “Thank you, but we did that a day ago.” But the Soviets had something more in mind and they would remain to enforce a communist state for the next 21 years.
In 1989 the Velvet Revolution occurred, which was when the communists left and Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Since then the Czechs have reinstated their beautiful culture, art, literature, and have become the people and nation they are most proud of. And it is these stories and their nationalism, their quirky art and literature, their intriguing sense of humor, all bundled into this magical city that has forced me to return.
Franz Kafka, a very renowned Czech author, once referred to Prague and as “A mother with Claws.” Every time he tried to move away from this glorious city he would be sucked right back in. I think I’m starting to understand how that can happen. 😉