Prague and the Fear of Being Alone

After Bucharest, I made a solo journey to Prague for three days.

I arrived in Prague and the first thing you realize when you’re traveling alone versus with at least one other person, is that it is easy to get overwhelmed.  You can’t lie down and start crying in the streets (even though you might want to) so instead you’re forced to figure things out. I didn’t have Wi-Fi, so I was relying on an offline map I had downloaded—thank goodness for apps. I got turned around several times (I have never experienced such winding, confusing streets as in Prague), but eventually made it to the Old Prague Hostel where I would be staying. I couldn’t check in yet, so I dropped my bag off with hostel staff and headed out to Hradčany, the Castle District.

Instead of taking the quick way to the castle, over Charles Bridge, I decided to explore farther south in the “New Town” area of the city. I saw the National Theater, a spectacular building with an ocean blue roof covered in shining, golden stars. After crossing Legions Bridge I came across a café I had read about and stopped in for a bite to eat.

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Map of the city. The Castle District is in the upper left and the National Theater is in the lower right.

The interior was beautiful, but at first it was hard for me to notice because I was so conscious about the fact that I was about to eat alone at this lovely spot. As humans, we are typically social creatures. When we do things alone they’re usually not done for fun, but done out of necessity; getting groceries, going to the post office, walking to work. Therefore, when we go to do fun things alone, we are horrified! Go to a movie alone?! Sit in a park and have a picnic…alone?! Enjoy a brunch sitting alone?!  Nope, never, absolutely not going to happen. Somehow, though, travel allows me to pretend I’m not the shy little introvert that I am. So by god, I sat alone at that restaurant and enjoyed every single bite of my eggs benedict with a twist.interior was beautiful, but at first it was hard for me to notice because I was so conscious about the fact that I was about to eat alone at this lovely spot.  As humans, we are typically social creatures.  When we do things alone they’re usually not done for fun, but done out of necessity; getting groceries, going to the post office, walking to work. Therefore, when we go to do fun things alone, we are horrified! Go to a movie stag?! Have a picnic with me and my shadow?!  Enjoy a brunch sitting solo?! Nope, never, absolutely not going to happen. Somehow, though, travel allows me to pretend I’m not the shy little introvert that I am. So by god, I sat alone at that restaurant and enjoyed every single bite of my eggs benedict with a twist.

This beauteous brunch (apple juice included) was under $7.

This beauteous brunch (apple juice included) was under $6.

I even managed to learn a thing or two about the history of Café Savoy by talking to an old man sitting at the table next to me (a regular).  He told me the cafe was opened in 1893 and became famous for both its service and its Neo-Renaissance ceiling.  It also has an ideal location: near to the National Theater, Kampa (a city park), Old Town, and New Town.  However, during World War I, socialists took over the space and used it to recruit new members.  Luckily, the owner had decided to cover the ceiling in order to protect it.  His smart thinking saved the ceiling during both World Wars and since then has been restored to its original design.

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I can only hope I look as good as Cafe Savoy when I’m 100…

I slowly enjoyed my meal, chatted with the friendly fellow next to me, and learned some history. These are all things I probably wouldn’t have done had I been with another person. I would have felt the need to go and see as much of the city as possible, running from one historical venue to the next to squeeze as much in as we could. Instead, I may not have seen as much of the city as I could have, but because of my interactions in Café Savoy I felt more connected with the city than I otherwise would have.

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