Tales From Prague: Three days on the Charles Bridge

Vignettes from the Czech Republic's most emblematic monument

In our second "Tales" series, columnist E.R. Pulgar conjures up scenes of one of his old haunts in the Czech Republic.

For my grandmother.


The first time I walked the Charles Bridge night had already fallen. I can remember walking through The Old Town, clouded together into blurred, beautiful old buildings by mist and snow. I made my way through the labyrinth, savoring the flower shops, the people walking under old streetlamps, the Baroque church that held the city's iconic statue of the Infant Jesus. I remember running through the streets, attempting and failing to read Czech. I speak Spanish, I can understand romance languages. This was my first encounter with a Slavic language outside of Russian, and I couldn't tell "ano" from "ne."

At the end of the seemingly endless Karlova street, full of merchants and absinthe shops with LED light up skulls and tourists, I saw the entryway. In the square before the entrance, I could see the statue of an ancient king, who I would later identify as Charles, who I would later identify as Karel. The waters of the Vltava were still, and the tourists relentless despite the snow.

I don't remember the names of the statues. I hardly remember how I felt, except that I began to cry in a sort of disbelief. As an American, you learn to romanticize Europe. You learn about old kings and queens, you fall in love with their art. This was when a man came up to me and asked me If I would hold a pair of doves. I could hardly babble out the yes.

This is my first concrete memory of Prague.

E.R. Pulgar


I remember catching the 9:30 tram into the city every morning to attend university, with the morning stretching above the face of the water. I remember pink reflections on the Vltava, making Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge below me glow in an iridescent morning mist. There was one day when I was finally comfortable maneuvering the city and decided to skip my morning lecture to take a walk on the bridge.

You've never seen so many birds singing in pink light, so little people on the bridge. It reminded me of the first pictures I ever saw on Prague when I was scouring the Internet for information about the place I had just tied myself to for four months. The bridge at dawn with no people. Famous monuments that aren't invaded by tourists, by themselves in the soft morning, are beautiful for themselves and not for their reputation. I was beginning to wonder if the Charles Bridge, a gateway that serves as a limbo, as both passage and destination, would ever be like that.

It turns out a near-empty Charles Bridge does exist, even mid-morning on a Tuesday.


Julio Rios

My father and grandmother flew in for my birthday, and stayed with me in the small but cozy enough hotel room I had been living in. We filled our days with bus rides to Karlovy Vary, to nearby Brno, tram rides around the city. I showed them Prague Castle. I showed them my favorite tea place, my favorite gallery, my favorite corridors to walk down.

Their last day in the city was marked by rain, and we decided to cross the bridge. I shared an umbrella with my grandmother, and looked back at my dad. He was never one for taking pictures, my mother usually taking on that duty. The image of him staring out into the rainy Vltava, directing his gaze toward the Castle we had visited days before when there was still snow, is something I'll never forget.

My umbrella broke, so I decided to go under my grandma's. Being the taller one, I held it above both our heads as we walked, mostly dry, into the misty Old Town.

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

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Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

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Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

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Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.