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I first stepped into Prague’s Wenceslas Square in the summer of 1991. Then -- fresh out of high school and surrounded by at least 20 fellow members of a choir touring Europe, with film footage of the ’89 Velvet Revolution emblazoned in my memory -- I made my way up to the statue of Wenceslas on his horse in my own world. I was already hooked.
Later during that same stay, I got terribly lost in the massive antiquity of the Prague Castle after our group’s tour and shortly before we were supposed to sing a concert.
I chalked it up to the confusingly narrow medieval streets and the multiple staircases leading down from the Castle’s perch on the hill. I think now that I was already trying to find a way to stay in Prague.
In the next four years, I found ways to make it back to the city as often as I could -- and generally managed to ensure that I was forced to stay longer than I planned. On New Year’s Eve 1993, I lost my passport at the main Prague train station on the way to Vienna. No embassy will replace your passport on New Year’s Eve -- or New Year’s Day, or even for two days after that if an accident of the calendar has the 31st landing on a Thursday.
While I definitely do not recommend losing your passport -- it’s a frightening experience that will put a crimp in your travel plans and make your life needlessly difficult -- I wasn’t exactly crushed to have to spend four unscheduled days in Prague.
After 1995, my visits dropped off. I was in graduate school, studying the region and learning the language, and once I graduated, the two weeks of vacation allotted in the "real world" just weren’t sufficient for trips to see parents and in-laws and to indulge my need to lose myself in the Czech Republic.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to get back, and this time, I didn’t want to stay just an extra four days. So in the summer of 1999, my husband and I decided that the next summer, we would quit our jobs in Amherst, Massachusetts and move to Prague -- and in July of 2000, we did just that.
That’s when I finally discovered Prague in all its splendor -- and frustration.
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