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Musings on the Charles Bridge

This is basically a travel journal. Move along, move along. ;)



Musings on that walk during the evening across Charles Bridge. I said last night it was "magical", but I had to stop and think about that. Breathtaking. There were fishing boats and barges floating down the river (no motors that I heard or saw), many of them still loaded with tourists, all of them wooden and looking like they'd stepped out of the 1700s. No fancy, shiny fiberglass motorboats. Everything was peaceful.
There were birds across the water -- no seagulls cawing, though. Most of the birds had gone to roost for the night, and the pigeons were much more polite than they are here. ;) (Interestingly, I didn't see any anti-bird things anywhere, but no bird poop covering statues or birds roosting on top of them. And yet, the statues didn't look like they'd been clean; there was black (ingrained soot from years past) in the corners and folds, moss wherever the sun didn't hit, and clean stone where hands brushed across to touch it.) The birds that hop around here are more finches and sparrows than pigeons. You'll see a finch that's yellow and white, with a dramatic black cap and bars down his wings. Or maybe pink on his belly and a black line that spills down his breast. Occasionally you'll see a bird from the raven family, with a long tail and dramatic black and white body and wings. (There were none of those on the bridge; they were in the castle gardens.)
There was a crowd, but not a frantic crowd. We weren't bumping elbows with people. I didn't feel claustrophobic; there was always clear space around us, and gaps among the people. The general tone was happiness; the buskers were clearly enjoying themselves, big smiles and bows and laughing with each other or the cheerful crowd. People would stand around them, swaying or clapping with the music, cheering the jugglers twenty feet away, or ahhing over the guy with the snake. (Python, maybe? That size.)
There were dogs. There aren't leash laws in Prague, except in some specific places where they mark that dogs must be leashed. But most dogs are off leash, trotting along with their people. They wander off to sniff something and come trotting back, or trot ahead and then wait for their people to catch up, or lag behind before catching up themselves. None of them look manic, like our dogs at home, none of them go sniff random people or dogs, and all of them look completely content. (The ones that are manic, sniffers, non content or aggressive are kept responsibly on leash.) It makes me realized how messed up our dogs are, and that makes me sad. But watching the dogs here, that makes me happy. There were many on the bridge.
There were a few beggars, maybe four or five of them across the half mile expanse of bridge. They bow, foreheads on the cobble stones, usually covered with an extra blanket. It was disconcerting -- still is -- when I see it. (We gave them all money.) One, however, was bowed over his dog. A golden retriever or something similar. The dog seemed to be sleeping peacefully, and the man stroked its head and neck with his fingertips, his forehead resting against its temple, both of them covered with a blanket. Despite the fact that he was begging, they seemed very peaceful and content.
below either end of the bridge were houses with red rooftops. The rooftops were all the same, but nothing else was. Some houses were tall, others short. Blue, pink, yellow -- all pale colors, not pastels but lightly painted. The cobblestone street wove, blue and gray, in between rows of buildings. Most of the houses were in rows, one built against the other so they shared a wall. They spilled away from the bridge in artistic chaos, tangling into a town.
The wind was brisk but not too cold, bringing a flush to cheeks without making me shiver (in my thermal, scarf, winter coat, and gloves!). The sun was setting and for the first time the overcast sky didn't look gray, but pink and blue and shades of light.
When we got to the other side of the bridge, lanterns were lit all over, bright spots that faded into mist. That was more crowded, but light and laughter spilled out of open doorways to resturaunts and taverns and bars. Down one street -- all the streets are just barely room enough for a car to pass, with about three feet between it and the buildings on either side -- there was a guy in a shark costume, standing still and then jumping at people. It created a lot of laughter and quick yelps. In Wenceslas Square several someones had toys that wound up on rubber bands and then, unwinding, flew into the air and came down slowly. As they flew they lit up, so that everywhere you could see bright spots of blue or green light soaring into the sky.
We got lost getting home again, but neither of us minded. ;)

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