Ryan Chartrand

I take one step off the curb onto the cobblestone street and my journey has begun, down the hill, past the castle on my left, past the couple sipping pints of Gambrinus patio-side on my right – never mind that it’s only 10 a.m. – this is the Czech Republic. This is the country that consumes the most beer per capita than any other. And 10 a.m. is a fine time to start drinking.

I walk towards town, my classroom in mind as my final destination, although I know I will soon be distracted by the warm apple strudel pastries that sit patiently in glass cases for all who walk by to eye.

As I continue my journey to class with one of these delicious pastries in hand, I find myself approaching the man playing the violin near the caf‚. His soft eyes and weathered skin create a sense of curiosity in me to know what his story is, what has he seen and endured while this country was under communist rule; I know he has a lot to tell.

Now I embrace the lookout point where I take in the whole view of the city. It’s bustling with people. I am only a quarter of the way through my journey, but because of the view and the sun on my back I don’t mind. I continue down many steps, OK, I’m a bit tired and hung-over from a ridiculously crazy night at the clubs and bars that lasted until five this morning, but that’s alright, I’m 20 years old, I can always sleep later. Last night my friends and I frequented Sunny, the bar next to our dorm, before making our way to the typically popular Czech ’80s club that features Madonna, U2, Duran Duran and Banana Rama; fun times.

By now I’m descending upon the river, and I pass outdoor caf‚ after outdoor caf‚. I turn a corner and find a great old statue, then another; the next street reveals a cathedral that stretches and reaches up to the sun. I walk through a park and begin to cross the bridge as my school building comes into view. I can’t believe it. Do I really attend class in this magnificent building? It seems unreal.

I pass vendors selling cute earrings and beautiful paintings and I find them hard to pass up. I have to restrain myself because I just spent a lot of my money this month on plane tickets to Amsterdam, Florence, and Barcelona. My 12-day break is soon approaching and with all these destinations in close proximity I absolutely must find my way to them.

I reach my school building with time to spare so I head to the cafeteria where I can quench my thirst with a pilsner for seventeen crowns, which is about 75 cents for a half liter! I am very spoiled by how cheap Prague is.

I reconvene with some friends in the cafeteria and we discuss and reminisce the many stories from Oktoberfest in Munchen, which we arrived back from just the other day. We all agree it was the craziest 24 hours of our lives. From standing on tables cheers-ing liter after liter of German beer with random foreigners, to sleeping for an hour total on the metro station floor, to accidentally leaving one of our drunken friends in Germany . it was an outrageous adventure.

My watch beeps 11 a.m. and it’s time to climb the stairs to my classroom. I realize my muscles are sore from soccer practice with the women’s Slavia team. On that note, I must say these practices can be quite interesting because the coach only speaks Czech.

Well, I have made it through the long enjoyable trek to my photography class, which has now begun. I stare out the window at the picture perfect view of the castle, its surrounding beautiful buildings and the river below. What’s next, you ask? Well, after class I plan to make my way to the relaxing beer gardens, where I can lay in the sunny park with friends among the flowers and trees, and gaze out at the view of Praha. Or I’ll possibly venture to Old Town Square where I will sit with my latte in awe of my present surroundings and people watch. Either way, the journey goes on, and life here remains simply amazing.

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