After the Jewish museum we got some lunch and took a long walk in silence. We continued our depressing historical education at the communism museum, which is tucked off of a main street, behind a McDonalds, up a flight of stairs, and next to a casino. It sounds naive but I never really thought about the experience of living under communism. The museum carried me through history and gave a detailed account of life in the Czech republic. Parts of the exhibit were comical, the communist kitchen and the school room showed the propaganda that now seems amusing.
After the home life, things took a more serious turn when we went through the interrogation room where we learned about the secret police, public oppression, and the militant tactics of the government. One of the final rooms had a video about the protests of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, on the anniversary of Jan Palachs death. The video showed plain clothed police relentlessly beating civilians at peaceful protests. There was one particular moment where a women was being pushed around by a police officer, and a man intervened. The cop hit the man, then the man punched the cop. Suddenly the man got a look on his face, realizing that his actions would have irreversible consequences. He started to run away, but he was enveloped by a sea of plain clothes cops who beat him until he stopped moving. The next piece of the museum showed a recreation of the Berlin wall and some of the graffiti.
After the communism museum, the Lennon Wall, as a symbol of freedom, struggle, and accomplishment started to make more sense.
We decided it was time for a change of pace, so we went for a leisurely walk along the water, with the goal of watching the sun set over the Charles Bridge. We got a beautiful view of the city (and some penguins?) along the way
We got to the Charles Bridge a few minutes before the sun started to set, and realized the sun would be setting behind a hill, not over the water and we wouldn’t be able to see anything from the bridge, so we decided to haul ass back to the Castle and see the sun go down over the whole city. There was some asthmatic breathing, but we made it to the castle just in time.
After the sun disappeared we walked through the castle complex again and this time I connected with the history. It was completely empty, except for a few soldiers, and all of the buildings were carefully illuminated. I was in awe of the place. There are few words to explain the irrational emotional connection I felt to the space. It was mine, it was beautiful, and I just wanted to stay.
We navigated the rest of the complex in silence and by the time we arrived to the opposite side the sun was completely gone, and the city was alight in a way pictures couldn’t capture.
We walked home through the rainy streets of Prague, watching the twinkling lights of the buildings, marveling at the beauty of the city, with such a complex past. I felt content, realizing that I am my happiest when traveling. I feel fulfilled and inspired being surrounded by the newness of each place. Meeting people from around the world expands my understanding of myself and my own upbringing. I absolutely love my life in the states, and the people I spend my time with, but when I am traveling I feel alive in a different way.