If I had to leave a review for the hostel I had chosen, The Wombat would get few extra points simply for letting me get the first good night’s sleep since my trip began. After taking a few extra minutes before getting ready, I headed downstairs and checked out.
Arriving at the train station, I quickly realized my train to Prague was leaving from a different station, one across town. Pulling my map from my backpack, I found my way to the subway. A short time later I stood staring at another departure board, again failing to find a train to Prague. I wandered around for a while before finding an information desk, where I was told the next train wasn’t for another two and a half hours. That left me just enough time to make my way to the ferris wheel printed on the shot glass I had bought the day before.
Expecting something grander, I soon found myself making my way back to the station. I grabbed some food and headed over to the platform to wait for the train to arrive. Surprisingly, it was already there, a half hour sooner than I thought it would.
Still unsure of the train system, I was bumped from one seat to another, until eventually managing to get a seat of my own. A couple of rows ahead of me, a group of American girls entertained themselves by playing cards until eventually falling asleep. As the train approached the Czech border, a border patrol agent walked through the car, checking passports and giving my papers another stamp.
Finally in Prague, I began to look for a tram and instead found an ATM and a park. I took out 1000Kč and began to walk around before one of the girls from the train stopped me to ask if I was lost and wanted to join them for a ways. As we walked towards their hostel, I learned they were on winter break from their study abroad in France. One of the girls had even attended the same opera as me the night prior.
We arrived at their hostel, and I asked the receptionist for help, but the best he could was to give me a map. I said my farewells to the girls and left to retrace my steps. Eventually I managed to get to my hostel, The Boathouse, and discovered that every review I had read that mentioned its isolated location was right. Luckily, I received a warm reception and given free post cards to help counteract the location.
Settling in, I decided I was hungry and headed back into the city, ending up in the busiest McDonald’s I’d ever been to. Standing room only, I quickly ate and left, making my way to the tram stop where I spent the next half hour figuring out how to read the schedule posted.
Arriving back at the hostel, I prepared for the night ahead, grabbing just my small point & shoot camera. As the tram took me into the city once more, I saw the spot I wanted to ring in the New Year’s at: Charles Bridge. I exited the tram before realizing I was one stop early. I started walking and quickly fell into a mass of people heading towards the bridge. The air was filled with enough energy in the air to make it feel like it was already midnight.
It’s hard to believe all the people that were on the bridge, and yet in the middle of it was a small clearing where a group was setting off fireworks. And everywhere I looked, a full 360° around me, fireworks were bursting into the air.
Everyone was excited and happy, people joking and jumping up and down. Even with my camera set to video, I knew there was no way I could’ve captured the overwhelming experience. By 1am, the fireworks began slowing, and I started to make my way back to the hostel, cramming myself onto one of the overpacked trams.
The next morning, I grabbed a cup of orange juice before heading out into the city. My feet hurt, as did my back and shoulders, but I still wanted to see Prague, so I continued on and crossed over Charles Bridge towards Prague Castle, picking up another shot glass along the way.
Wandering around the cathedral and the various other buildings of the area, I was happy in my choice of lens. I took my time taking photographs, and made my way out of the Castle Quarter, crossing Charles Bridge once more.