In July of 2009, my family consolidated our mileage points and took a trip to Eastern Europe. As a city dweller, accustomed to the car horns and crowds of people, Prague came as a shock to me. It was as if I had somehow gone back in time. Surrounding me were rustic buildings and cobblestone streets rather than skyscrapers and concrete.
Life in this city did, indeed, seem slower. It was busy but not in a way that involved shouting or commotion. All the voices—be it those of tourists ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the puppets in the clock tower, or of locals chatting on their way to work—seemed hushed in a way. Perhaps everything appeared quieter and slower because I was on vacation and unused to the feeling of having an unplanned day. With no obligations or commitments, these days were liberating to the body and mind—there was no hurry to be anywhere, no tight schedule, and no deadlines. My mind was free to roam and to wander, to dream and to imagine.
On the second day, we walked to Prague castle, an elaborate structure with an overwhelming number of sites to visit. Our first site, the cathedral, was simply breathtaking. The stained glass was exquisite, but I found I could not take my eyes off the ceiling that seemingly arched 100 feet above me. I had always been fond of gothic architecture and once researched it for a school project. However, it is difficult to feel the breadth, the expansiveness, and the openness of a cathedral when viewing it from the page of a textbook or a pixilated image on a computer screen. Despite the large groups congregating around each stained glass window, the cathedral was surprisingly quiet. I suspected that the visitors’ silence came from their fascination and awe of its grandeur and epic proportions. Cautiously, as if afraid I would disturb the peace, I entered, my footsteps echoing as I walked.
I pictured in my mind what it must have been like in 1344 when the cathedral was in it earliest beginnings—the builders, laying each stone, slowly constructing what would later become Prague’s most famous structure. I imagined the coronations, the entire cathedral filled with people, eager to attend this royal ceremony.
I left with my mind happily stuffed with a multitude of thoughts. Even after returning home, images of medieval castles, horse-drawn carriages, and intricately carved wooden doors floated around in my head, reminding me to find an outlet for them—in my case, this was pen and paper both for drawing and writing.
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