It’s typical, isn’t it. There are those weeks when I find myself with all the time in the world to document my life, to blog and journal and bend the mundanities of reality into fiction, but there’s the key word that prevents me from doing just that; mundane. There’s simply nothing of interest to write about on those weeks, is there? Nothing real, anyway. Nothing that can be put in a blog on a journal. I have to rely on my imagination (not that it ever lets me down). Then there are the weeks where life glistens around me and I can hardly catch my breath. I want to grab my pen and write it all down, but the irony in that is of course, that to stop is to stop. Pausing to make note only gives life a chance to pass me by, and instead all I can do is throw myself head first into it and hope that I have enough energy in bed to tell all to my journal. I used to be so much better at that, but now, I’ve learnt to better spot those key moments that would best fit into fiction. My phone is filled with jottings of peculiar sightings, strangers who have caught my eye or single sentences uttered. Sooner or later they will find themselves relived through fiction – a single moment of untold reality hidden in dreams.
The first fortnight of August was one of those glistening weekends. I found myself too busy living, loving and laughing to document life thoroughly in writing, but at least I have a sharp memory, and my camera to hand. Capturing memories can be a wonderfully instantaneous thing with a camera, and I can snap away through the memories without stepping out of them.
I spent two wonderful weeks sweltering beneath the summer sun in Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and finally, Vienna, on a fabulous and very poorly planned mystery tour with Cali. We unofficially and inadvertently celebrated a triple-whammy with our trip, as September would mark our five-year friendship anniversary (yes, I seriously believe that friendship anniversaries should become a common custom, as most of my friendships have lasted infinitely longer than any relationship I’ve yet had), Cali’s birthday and the completion of her NQT year (meaning, she is now a brand shiny new primary school teacher – training year over. She is responsible for the next generation… if only their parents knew quite what they are letting their children in for) by meandering through a small circle of Europe, slowly burning to a crisp along the way. I came home with rock hard leg muscles from hours of aimless walking (excellent result), and two particularly dark tanned squares on my feet to mark my ballet flats (not so excellent – especially considering that the rest of my tan faded within a week, while my feet still look like they have a slice of toast strapped to them.) Other than the unfortunate tan lines, it was wonderful.
Our first (and last) stop… Prague. I’ve been here before, of course, three years ago. I completely fell in love with it, I think, partly, because Prague was a place which I knew nothing about before my arrival – I never thought to expect somewhere so beautiful, silly though that sounds now. This time, I knew just how wonderful it was, and I’ll be honest.. visiting Prague for a second time was something akin to meeting an ex-lover, and finding that yes, they are still handsome, charming, all the things which made you fall for him in the first place. But would I like to rekindle things? No, being my honest answer. It’s best just to hold on to those happy memories, and be on my way.
At times, I think Cali found herself hating me, and my meanderings and reluctance to use a map or plot a route. It was unbearably hot, after all, and I rarely stop to think that not everyone is necessarily up for a day of non-stop walking through cobbled streets and – at times – pavements which are literally wooden slats dangling precariously over a busy road. I forget how many times we got lost, and how many times we found wonderful little nooks which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
And of course, as with any trip, some of the most treasured photos haven’t come from my camera, or Cali’s camera, at all, but from a goPro or phone. Between us we had five cameras (including phones), two notebooks and a scattering of pens to hand. But of course.
A few Prague highlights; water zorbing a single inflatable tube on the Vltava river, hopelessly failing to coordinate ourselves and move more than a few feet while laughing ourselves silly, limbs flailing, bruises accumulating, and a growing audience of no doubt amused bystanders from the road above. It was not long before sunset, but the sun still bore down and made the tube unbearable after a while, yet the water beneath us so was cool – I could easily have lay there all day… you know, were it not for the condensation, and slow sensation of being locked in an oven after the first five minutes.
We crossed the Charles bridge at dusk, held a snake and paused to listen to a man play wine glasses. The bridge was littered with musicians of varying talent; guitar players, keyboardists, violinists, but he attracted the largest crowd. As night fell we climbed the hill with its winding steps up to the Castle. I am yet to see the castle during the day, but I can’t see how it can by any more beautiful than at night, when the street lights spread across the city and and the birds glow like fireflies around the spires. We lay on the ground alongside other tourists and listened to passing tour guides share the secrets of the castle, and fooled around taking photos with the lamps which lit up the ground and made a path, and everyone looked at us as though we’re mad. Though we most likely are.