Here we go.
I arrived yesterday evening in Prague. Cold and windy Prague.
To access the metro, I have to go under the Earth on a sloppy and long escalator. I catch the handle fast and hold it. My sight is blurry by now and my back starts to hurt.
I look around, the light is dim. The machine is eating each stair endlessly. I am alone here, going slowly down.
From the metro station I felt my way through the darkness to here, the place I rented for a few days before finding another location, for longer term. During the metro ride people look at me carrying my luggage. They feel fresh blood. A group of Moldovan construction workers, faces dark and so so tired, sit together speaking my language. Romanian. My father could be one of them. The one hugging his backpack, that one might have been my father. His face is drained of any type of emotion and his eyes are huge.
Two small dogs, rushing out of a huge construction site, bellow at me. If they come closer, I’m gonna kill them with my bare frozen hands. I think in the dark. But they give up the fight. A woman’s voice calls them.
I am located quite far away from the center. I try my luck and my space orientation talent and give it a go in the morning. I walk without a map.
I start walking in the same direction as yesterday, hoping that the dogs are not there. The construction site is indeed huge, a big hole in the ground, surrounded by a continuous beige fence. One yellow arm, coming from the enormous crane, stretches above my head.
Early in the morning the air is still crisp and cold. Remember, Victoria, these winters are your home. You know this.
I look around, look behind me. I am on a large street, the space over there at my left is empty, behind me I see waves of buildings popping up, on my right the big construction hole.
Passing by the gate, the dogs don’t show up. Aha! you got scared, I think to myself.
There was a time when my fear of dogs, bellowing and coming towards me dogs, was very serious. I would change the side of the road if a dog would appear at the horizon. Now it is different. One sitecom dog, the ones clothed and perfumed, with the head hanging on a pink leash, came at me bellowing one day in Italy. Some time ago I would have gotten scared and pee my pants.
That time I screamed at the top of my lungs: Fuck you! I screamed right there on the fucking the street.
It felt good!
The Italian sitecom dog did not understand and went away.
As I proceed, the view changes. On my right rises an enormous shopping center. Andrea Bocelli will sing there soon.
People are small as they come out or go inside the shopping monster. I see children, happy for a day out with their parents, telling some story from school, talking fast the children language.
I cross the large street heading to a larger one. I saw a road sign and this might be the good direction for me to go. I want to find the place where I will be working.
A man wrapped in a few dirty clothes passes by. His face is raw. With infected skin and pain. His eyes stare ahead. He might have spent the night under the bridge.
I see now some of those building that Prague is known for, and sought for. The old ones, coloured and standing high in the wind. They have done it millions of times before.
The sidewalk is cobbled. The tram passes by, up and down. I meet other 5 dogs ( summed up) on the leash. Their owners are wrapped up in clothes so thick that I can make nothing out of them, is that a man or a woman?
The dogs’ paws tip toe.
I pass by chinese, vietnamese and korean restaurants, fast food places, food supply shops. All closed at this early hour. When I will get the chance and the money, I will go in a korean food shop. Maybe I will find the memory of my beloved Korea there. Some large and fat kelp leaves will do it. In fact, let me stop for a moments and look around…this street reminds me of Seoul, those large streets, the cold, the red faces eating on the street or inside mysteriously positioned inns.
I get closer to the center and I encounter more people. A young couple going out for a coffee. She is playing with his left ass cheek. A maturated woman rushes by holding a big Mcdonald’s coffee cup. She is sad in her big fur coat.
I pass under a bridge. Cross another road and another. By now, my face is numb and my hands also. But I like it. I know this.
I am now surrounded by people. A lot of them. As I pass by, through or with them, I marvel to myself, these are all Italians. Yes, some of them look like tourists, but some don’t. They don’t look around at the buildings, or at the sky, at that enchanting church or synagogue, they go somewhere precise.
A group of young Italians is assisting at a public transport immersion course held right at the tram stop. The woman talking seems like a teacher. She talks like teachers do. Pretending to be sure of themselves. Beside them, nesting in the sun while checking the map, I see and hear a German family. The grandfather is saying: Ja, richtig. Das habe ich euch schon gesagt. He is sure of himself.
All the way to Prague was sprinkled with young Italians. It is no news that they are all over but not in Italy. In the bus yesterday, it felt like I didn’t change country.
They usually go in groups and stay close to each other. The cold makes them even more sticky. Today, every Italian conversation I heard was around the cold, complaining or joking about it. The group of women, all of them imbacuccate as if on a North Pole expedition, stopping for a selfie, where laughing at the cold! Oh mamma mia!
As I passed by, I thought, state bubbolando dal freddo! Which is one of the last phrases I learned while in Italy.
A group of drunkards stopped at the tram stop. One of them is screaming behind a departing drunkard, You mother fucker! His voice is course, his skin and moves as well. He might have spent the night under the bridge as well.
People raise their sight from their phones for a moment.
As I pass by schick hotels, I see people eating their breakfast behind large, old windows. They move in slow motion. In a la carte restaurant-hotel, I see a woman cutting the omelette in four. The heavy ring on her hand sparkles in the morning sun. The man in front of her is reading the newspaper. Oh, dear…
I feel that I am close to my destination.The office should be around here.
I am now trebling myself. I had to use the metro again. The wind at the station managed to impress me. As I walk out of it, after having used again one of those never ending escalators, standing behind a little boy saying Hello! Hello! to those going down, while his parents grinned as content cats do, I have to gulp for air.
My breath is taken by this wind.
This is not going to be another Prague guide, Prague things to do. This is the story of someone who is going to break it or make it here. This is me. I have never been a touristy type of traveller and that is why I am not writing about such things. I prefer to feel my way though places that, after all, build the scenery of life.
I intend to submerge myself in the local way of living, talking and thinking. I want to understand the locals and this nation which is, curiously, attracting me.
I hope you will enjoy the ride.