I think that it is important to be nice to everyone. However, I do not think that I need to be friends with everyone. A lot of people on my study abroad trip are into the latter idea. Sadly, I have found that this has translated into a situation extremely similar to freshmen orientation or summer camp. Everyone wants to meet-up to go to dinner together, or the bar, or to the bathroom. Every time I tag along with the group, I feel that I am setting myself back. To me, it is an example of holding on to a piece of America that does not let you fully become integrated with your surroundings. When you go out with a huge group, wherever it may be, you are noticeable; you stick out. You are not living in a foreign country, but simply being a visitor.
That’s why I cherished the evening of Friday, September 5, 2014 so much. I had just finished the scheduled three hour tour of Prague with about thirty fellow sweaty, hot, uninterested students. I had caught wind of a monastery-turned-microbrewery in the near vicinity. My interest was piqued beyond belief. I love a good beer, but even more so, I love exploring something so interesting in such a rich city.
Naturally, I did not want to shout out my intentions of visiting the spot, but I did not mind a few people joining the adventure. A fellow film collaborator but more so a newfound good friend named Hudson was obviously down. Chilling and drinking brews with the homie is not something to be passed up by him. Then, one more person decided to join, a girl named Cassidy. Neither Hudson nor I knew her very well, but we both initially found her physical beauty infatuating and later discovered that she had a personality to match. It was to be a solid crew.
The transit system is highly efficient and readily accessible in Prague. Getting on is easy, but getting off can be quite difficult when all of us are still struggling to comprehend everything related to the Czech language. After two different trains, though, we finally found ourselves at the right stop.
This place was different. There was no bustle. There were no McDonald’s. There were no beer swigging tourists, sans us. There was an unblemished European countryside with such gentle charm that Woody Allen could only ever dream of evoking in his recent Euro trip films. With this, we knew we had found our newest spot that would yield frequent visits.
We walked a little and in no time found ourselves within the walled monastery. It was absolutely brilliant. The walls had seemingly kept the monastery intact, in its centuries old form. Apparently, these monks liked to party, too, because exactly as we had been told, we found a quaint microbrewery tucked into one of building’s basements. The beer was tasty, albeit a little pricey – which means its still cheaper than a glass of soda back in the States. The trip was not necessarily about the beer though. Cassidy, Hudson, and I were able to open up and get to know each other, attempt to speak Czech with the locals, and almost completely cut ties from anything in the States. We were immersing ourselves into Prague.
The monastery was so well executed in its placement that it happened to be located on a giant hill. This offered some tremendous hiking that could not be passed up. We got a fairly decent workout in, I freaked out over a cute dog I was able to play with, and we happened to see the first real woods of our trip in Prague. It was peaceful.
Then as we got to the peak of our hike, we happened across my favorite thing so far on my abroad trip: the view. There have been some breathtaking views at just about every point on the trip. None of them can compare to this. It is something that I wish I could describe, yet I feel I lack the ability to give it justice. The entire city was in view with such clarity. All I could think about was how the city must have changed so much. Everything has become so affected by time and in a gorgeous city like this, tourism. I thought about how, eventually, I would have to climb down from the hill and go back to the town, to where all the Starbucks are, to my giant group of Americans taking pubs by storm.
It is nice to know, though, that this spot will still be here, and to know that I can readily return. Bogart and Bergman might always have Paris, but we will always have that monastery, that top of the hill, and that view.