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Getting lost… and what I found along the way

Filed in Blog, Czech Republic by on June 20, 2018
by Luci C.

I had a pretty awesome and exciting day today after accidentally getting left behind on the way to the Strahov Monastery in Prague, Czech Republic! Getting split up from your group and needing to find your own way in a foreign city is a little intimidating, but I learned some valuable lessons and had a really great adventure I’ll remember forever.

Student stands at top of hill with apple orchard and town in background.

View behind me, heading up through apple orchard.

View of tops of buildings and homes in Prague, Czech Republic from an orchard.

Path leading to Prague Castle through apple orchard past the back side of the U.S. Embassy.

I had woken up early to make it to the tram with some wiggle-room around the meeting time — you know, so I wouldn’t be late — but after 20 minutes of waiting for the tram, it was obviously late and I was starting to get anxious. When the tram finally arrived I only had 10 minutes for two rides and a transfer, plus the walk to the meeting place. I knew I would be very close to being late. That’s when the tram-jam happened. There were six public transportation trams waiting ahead of mine for a dump truck that was backing into a tiny courtyard. I would definitely be very late… maybe they’d leave a note for me? When I got to the meeting place I was told by staff that the group knew I could find the famous Strahov Monastery, library and brewery on my own (I’ve been to Prague before, but I’m no local!), and to meet them there. The monastery lies on a steep hill leading to Prague Castle, and it is quite a trek. Even when you go the correct way, winding feet-first through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets filled with old restaurants, local shops and foreign embassies, it’s difficult. But I went the wrong way. Instead of those quaint cobblestone streets and the path that bypasses the well-guarded U.S. Embassy, I found myself in a sparsely populated park. With small paths through an apple orchard and a beautiful nature park up the huge hill to the castle, it looked beautiful, but I could see the wall of the U.S. Embassy looming and wondered if I could get to the monastery this way. Or would I have to circle all the way back around?

Time was flying by and I was going to miss the tour if I didn’t figure something out quickly. I went into a nearby restaurant for help. Luckily, the waitress knew enough English, and I had learned enough Czech language, that we were able to communicate about directions. I could make it… but it was quite a steep hike. Oh well, I thought to myself, let’s do this! I would actually regret NOT going on the path I ended up on. It took me in and out of the shade of hundreds of apple trees as I meandered up the large hill. I saw absolutely breathtaking views of the whole city, and after I accepted my fate and all the facts, I was able to let go of any anxieties and enjoy my little adventure. I met and chatted with an Australian couple who reassured me I was on the right path, maybe 15 minutes away now. Then I walked past an old forgotten statue with no name and the moss- and vine-covered ruins of what I assumed were the old city walls or a watch tower along them. I listened to the birds singing and noticed several species of flowers and trees I’d never seen before. I was glad to be there. Glad the dump truck had trouble backing in so the pile up caused my little side trip to a place I might never have otherwise seen. I met up with the group at the monastery, and although I’d missed a part of the tour, all was well… plus I’d had a secret tour of my own that I will never forget.

This is what I learned:

  1. Don’t panic — it won’t help the situation. I could not control the late tram no matter how much I worried. Try to remain calm, and adjust your needs and expectations.
  2. I’m glad I learned basic Czech phrases. Don’t assume everyone in your host country will speak English. They might, but they probably don’t.
  3. See the good in your situations — that hike was amazing, the view was awesome, the ruins were incredible, arriving to my group seemingly out of nowhere like a traveling stranger was fun and the memories will be treasured. Anything can be an adventure if you only CHOOSE to see it that way.

I can’t wait for my next adventure… something tells me it will happen today.

P.S. The public transportation in Prague is usually incomparably good, it was just having a bad day.

A green grost with sunlight and tall thin trees.

About the blogger

Luci C. is studying abroad on the Developing Dynamics of Democracy program in Prague, Czech Republic.

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