Friday, July 19, 2013

Last Day in Prague

My last day in Prague was a little surreal. Although I left on Friday, the morning before my flight was spent cleaning my apartment before turning in my keys. So, Thursday was my last full day in Prague, and I planned to spend the last few hours saying goodbye to my new home.

After volunteering at the kindergarten for the last time (and being given two bottles of becherovka as a thank you), I met up with my friend Diana to hang out for the day. Her apartment was having a goodbye lunch at Radost--the vegetarian restaurant-by-day and club-by-night spot we had spent many Thursday nights. I had a half of two different types of veggie burgers that were delicious and ordered my last Czech beer. Although not traditional Czech food, I had enjoyed pork knee with dumplings the night before at one of my favorite restaurants U Kroku with my friend Lauren and her family. Some of the best restaurants in Prague aren't traditional Czech food, so I felt like I was covering my bases before leaving.

After lunch, Diana and I headed to the nearest potraviny to pick up some souveniers and Czech goodies to take home. I bought four 50 ml bottles of beer (you're welcome dad), carmel wafers, and bagel chips to share back at home. After we sufficiently stocked up our suitcases, Diana and I headed from our apartments back downtown to do some last Prague adventures. Our first stop was the Waldenstien Gardens by Prague Castle. While we went to Prague Castle again a week ago, we had missed these gardens on our visit. The area was beautiful, but what we really came for was to find the albino peacock. After searching through the gardens, we got extremely lucky. Not only did we find him, but also managed to catch him with his feathers up long enough for us each to get the picture.

We had also hunted down some acrylic paint and paintbrushes, and set out to do one of the last things on our Prague To Do List's: painting the John Lennon Wall. Although I don't think either of us are the most artistic people, painting on the wall was really cathartic. It was fun and relaxing, and not to mention funny when a huge group of tourists spent about 15 minutes taking pictures of us. We took our time, and were both proud of our end products. I couldn't think of any better way of spending our last day in Prague. It was the perfect last "interaction" with the city that I've fallen in love with, and leaving my mark on the wall gave some closure to the end of my time living in Europe.

We stopped by Kampa park to take a photo with the Chrny babies by a man who recognized us as the painting girls before some of our last souvenir shopping. I grabbed some last gifts for my family, and picked up a key chain that has not left my car keys since I've been home. One last kolbasa for dinner in Old Town, and it was time to say goodbye.

After a whirlwind of packing, cleaning, and scrubbing that stupid spot on the floor in our bedroom, I suddenly found myself on the taxi to the airport. Even though I was really excited to see everyone at home, I found myself tearing up in the ride over. There's very few places in the world where you can drive by architecture ranging from Romanesque to Gothic to Rococo with a cab driver who has lived most of his life under communism, and I was going to miss it. Moving into my first apartment in a foreign country was hectic, but I wasn't sure I was ready to leave my cute little apartment with wood floors and big windows despite the loud family of pigeons living outside my room or the impossibly small and lacking kitchen. As I said one last dekuji to my driver, I was sad that it would be my last time practicing a foreign language in an immersive environment for a long time. Leaving felt surreal and I definitely felt like I wasn't done with Prague quite yet.

Although I inevitably have a few regrets--mainly not traveling around more in the Czech Republic--but I know that it is impossible to do everything. I met some great new friends that made the experience so much fun and having Scott in Europe made Prague feel like home since day one (seriously, a life saver--it was like having your best friend going through the exact same thing you were and an instant travel buddy). Studying abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life and has definitely awakened a need to travel more.

So I'll save myself from more corniness (embarrassing post but necessary in a "journal" aspect), and just say that Prague was the best place for me to be this past semester and I can not wait to make it back to the Czech Republic.

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