pampered in prague

July 1, 2007

Who would have thought that a “Congratulations—you have won!” email, flagged as questionable, would actually have a valid reason to be in my inbox? I most certainly did not. It was only out of amusement that I decided to read this one as I went through my daily deletions of inbox clean-up. Amusement turned to incredulous curiosity when I realized that I was oddly familiar with the contest this email was referring to. And so it happened that two months later I was bound for Prague, straight out of the African Bush.
For someone accustomed to mosquito nets and Tsetse flies, candlelight and cold showers, giant centipedes in my schoolhouse and warthogs in my bathhouse . . . I was in for a bit of culture shock, to say the least. It was with wide eyes and a gaping mouth that I settled into our Five-Star hotel—one of “The Leading Small Hotels of the World”—with its bed piled high with feather pillows and its table laden with fresh fruits and chocolates.
Once I had made a valiant effort at scrubbing the dirt from my body and smoothing the wrinkles out of my chitenge [Zambian dress], we headed to the set. Oddly enough, here on the set of the film, I felt strangely at home. You see, the brilliantly created magical world of Narnia was sort of like just another beautiful dream world for my safari-accustomed eyes. It is an amazing thing to enter this set and be instantly whisked away into a land of talking trees and centaurs—but I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it, won’t you? ☺
So began my four-day adventure in Prague: a whirlwind of soaking in the sights of this stunning city, hobnobbing with hobbits, prattling with Princes, and returning each evening to be catered to, and spoiled rotten, in the lap of luxury.
It was, like I said, a whirlwind of experiences packed into too short of a time frame. Consequently, there was no way I could have gotten any sort of full sense of the place. I did, however, feel like my experience was complete, thanks to my last day of sightseeing.
On this day, I had a moment of absolute awe, in which I said to myself, Now I feel like I can leave this place in peace. In a sense, my traveler’s sensibilities were soaked to saturation point thanks to my visit to the cathedral of the Prague castle.
This visit came at the end of a day in which I had seen enough sights to start to be tired of sight-seeing; granted, I should admit that I have a rather low tolerance for tourist attractions, so my sense of “enough” is decidedly lower than most people’s, I believe. At any rate, it was in this state of mind that I entered the cathedral. And then I stopped, stunned, gazing up and around me with an instant teary-eyed reaction to the beauty. I can no more describe it to you than I suspect an angel could describe Heaven to a mortal. Suffice it to say, it is a magnificently glorious construction.
The next day I departed from Prague, saddened to leave and not quite ready to return to “real life.” But I was satisfied, filled up by the experience, and inwardly richer thanks to the time.

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