This is the true beauty of travel: getting lost so that you can find something you never knew existed.
People will tell you that a jam-packed itinerary while traveling is the best way to see everything. Others insist that eating long meals and seeing one thing a day is better. I won’t be so categorical, but after the past week, I’ve realized what works for me.
I arrived in Budapest to a hostel full of chatty travelers. I didn’t sleep much in Budapest, but spent much of my time simultaneously getting to know the city and these warm people.
In Prague, I spent the days on my own, but the pattern of eating, familiarizing, and wandering stayed the same. It wasn’t until I chanced upon a small courtyard that I realized there was more method to my madness.
As I was walking to Prague’s Rudolfinum, I looked to my left and saw a little cobblestoned courtyard strewn with fallen leaves and trees preparing for winter. The trees’ branches hung heavy like damp hair, the green, brown, and yellowing leaves obscuring exactly what lay behind. Streetlamps straight from Singin’ in the Rain or Paris in the Belle Epoque guarded the trees. – I have a love affair with streetlamps; they remind me of chilly nights and romantic bridges.- So when my eyes set upon this scene, I really had no choice!
I walked into the courtyard and heard a violin playing. One song later a jazz tune floated out from somewhere. Searching for the source of the music, I noticed a set of stairs blocked by a gate. Never one to be deterred, I walked up the stairs and pushed on the gate. It was firmly locked, though not that tall. I could see Prague’s Zahrady Gardens before me. For once, I turned back, mind swimming with thoughts of Babylon, and memories of past travels. I sat in the courtyard for a while, enjoying the kind of view that bears more significance than any insta-captured, filtered, or posted photo. I sat and then, all at once, I left, knowing I would have to return to these gardens… one day.