Thursday, November 20, 2014

Charles Bridge - the most magical bridge in the world

Every now and then, moments come along when you think, "Yep, this is as magical as a Disney movie." I've found most of these moments happen to me when I'm travelling, which is one of the reasons I love seeing new places as often as possible. My last "Disney" moment was in the beautiful city of Prague.

I've found that many of the very popular places in Europe have been affected badly by mass tourism. Although the original attraction is still beautiful and worth seeing, all you can think about is how to get away from the hoards pushing you whilst snapping their camera sloppily above their heads. Once you get away from them you're usually confronted with many souvenir stalls selling cheap plastic items. Now I love souvenirs as much as the next person, but I would rather spend more than a pound and get something a bit more special that hasn't been produced in the millions (if not billions!). 

Charles Bridge is one such extremely popular tourist attraction, that draws thousands and thousands of people each year. However, despite the crowds, to me it didn't feel so horribly touristy. It may have been because I visited in October, so the summer crowds were long gone, or it might just be because Prague doesn't get the amount of tourists that Paris and Rome get.

I first saw the Charles Bridge during the day. I was walking into the Old Town on my first full day in Prague, all ready to discover the city. It was pretty crowded, but I still had my personal space. There were people busking, begging, drawing portraits for people and selling jewelry. The blackened statues stared down ominously, watching the bustling crowds push towards the end of the bridge. It was certainly a beautiful bridge, however it was still just a bridge.

The Disney moment was still to come, and happened to be whilst I was walking along the bridge at night. It was around 6pm and already pitch black. It was cold but not freezing, and I walked along with steaming Gluhwein in hand. It was still busy but not overly crowded and the buskers were playing some pretty good jazz music.

As I got towards the end of the bridge, I looked around at the statues and the shiny cobblestone reflecting yellow lamp light. I could have been standing there at any point in the last few hundred years and the bridge wouldn't have looked very different at all. The only thing that could set apart this moment in time from any other previous time period was how people dressed and the flashes of cameras going off. 

Standing there in that moment was nothing short of magical.

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