This past weekend, I was able to have my sister come stay with me for the long weekend. After having spent several weeks away from all friends and family, the opportunity and ability to have her fly over from Paris, where she currently studies, was such a great break from reality!
Although I’ve been here in Prague for weeks and am feeling much more comfortable with it–familiarizing myself with getting around, curating a collection of favorite places to grab a coffee, take walks, have lunch, read a book, take the best pictures, etc., and generally feeling normal being here–showing a guest who’s new to Prague around my new home has made me feel more like a local than anything has before.
Not only has showing my sister around made me feel like a Prague-expert (although, don’t get me wrong, there’s still soooo much I haven’t seen), but it’s also made me see the city more clearly than I have before. It’s hard to explain, but both exploring the city alone and doing so with new friends, although fun and overall great general experiences, come with a heightened sense of tenseness that just isn’t there when you’re with someone who you know and trust completely. Being completely at ease with your company and having no agenda at all makes it easier to take in the beauty of the place that surrounds you, and to really feel like you’re there. A phenomena of study abroad that I, and many people that I know, have experienced, is the feeling that you’re kind of always in a dream. This fades with time, obviously, as things become familiar and routine, and as external factors like jet lag and general exhaustion wear off. But, there’s nothing that can make you feel quite as normal and in-the-moment as being in a beautiful (still new and exciting) place with a best friend.
To start our together-adventure in Prague, we got dinner (Thai food…those who know anything about us will not be surprised by this choice), and bopped around the city at night. It was disappointing that she didn’t arrive until after dark, because we’d just had the most beautiful, clear, sunny day. Prague often has a kind of smoky, foggy affect in the air even on the sunniest of days, and although it’s only subtle and isn’t ugly, and doesn’t take away from sunny days by any means, it was a rare day with no visible smog at all.
The next day we did all the typical sight seeing; beautiful old town square and astronomical clock, Charles Bridge, and the walk up to Prague castle on the other side of the river.
After an exhausting day of sight seeing and walking (and walking and walking and walking), the next day we found a great, adorable coffee shop (my new favorite in the city–always finding new spots!) to relax, chat, and plan upcoming trips (!!) in.
We both had a wonderful time, and I know that she can’t wait to return to Prague. (One of her favorite parts of visiting me was bragging that she “doesn’t really have to worry about ever getting lost in Paris”, because she doesn’t have to deal with a city where nothing makes sense and everything is round and streets are winding and some are only one-person wide. She really milked that). While she came away with bragging rights, I came away with a deeper appreciation for the beauty of this city!