When I was studying in Europe, I have always heard that one of the most beautiful cities to visit is Prague in the Czech Republic. Some friends have recommended it but for some reason, I was not able to go visit then. However, I have put it in my “must go to places” list. I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to finally visit the famous city this year, through my participation in the 6th Erasmus Mundus Alumni and Students Association (EMA) General Assembly (GA) last June 22-23 at Charles University.
Prague is everything that I have imagined it to be: breathtakingly beautiful! I know I did not stay long to really explore the entire city, but I think that what I saw during my short stay is enough for me to say that. It is the same kind of impression I have of Budapest when I was there last year: the city is a feast for the eyes and the soul.
Highlights of the trip:
The Travel Buddy (Dubai-Prague). Bumping into another GA participant (Salman Khan) at the Dubai International Airport was a pleasant surprise. We don’t really know each other but I remembered seeing him during last year’s GA. So I approached him and introduced myself. Since we were not seated together on the plane to Prague, I told him that we could go together to the hotel upon arrival at the Ruzyne Airport. I got an instant travel companion, to the hotel, at least!
The “City Hunt” Game – which was held a day before the GA (21 June). It was meant to establish camaraderie among the GA participants. This proved to be very challenging since many of us arrived in Prague on that same day. Despite the weariness of my very long trip, I still joined the game and although it left me more tired afterwards, I have no regrets. I was able to meet new friends (I was with Group 3) and I saw glimpses of Prague’s popular sights. And because the game made us walk and run, I could not take “proper” photos so I vowed to find time to explore the sights.
Oh it was crazy! Walking and running around – looking for places, monuments, landmarks, etc – and answering questions related to them! Plus, they came with tasks – taking photos – which were fun. Some of the tasks were: taking photo with 10 random strangers; presenting a birthday party; posing to be in jail; walking on the pedestrian lane (ala Beatles’ Abbey Road), among others. I was so happy with my team-mates!
They were Belgie, Gery, Mikhail, Rodrigo, Paras and Neel. We finished all the tasks within the allotted time of two hours and thirty minutes! After that, we headed for some drinks at a nearby bar and got to know each other better. Our association president even joined us. It was a great start. (N.B. We did not win the game.)
The EMA-GA Proper – serious yet productive presentations and discussions.
The Fellowship Dinner on board a boat, cruising along the Vltava River at sunset and passing through the magnificent Charles Bridge – simply magical and romantic – almost brought me to tears. Prague is most pretty at night!
The “World Coffee Break” during the GA, where each chapter had booths offering sweet delicacies from home. I brought our famous sweet dried mangoes and they were such big hits among my EMA colleagues!
The Chapter Presentations – where chapter representatives wore their national or traditional costumes! It definitely brought so much life and color to the event. It further reinforced the rich cultural diversity of EMA.
My funny roommate, Sulabha (from India) who was so sweet and endearing! We hit it off instantly and laughed a lot. I felt like I have known her all my life. I found a sister in her.
The SEA fellows – there were only five of us: Han and Nga from Vietnam, Taro from Thailand, Lex from Malaysia and myself from the Philippines. We had a very nice dinner at a vegetarian restaurant (as recommended by Taro) near Charles Bridge. I will never forget that night.
One Sunday Morning in Prague
Since I was not able to take “proper” shots of Prague’s famous and beautiful spots and I have the whole morning free, I took it upon myself to explore on my own. So in the morning of June 24, I went off to a solo adventure. My flight to Copenhagen was still in the afternoon so I had time. Armed with a city map and cameras (blackberry and Sony cyber shot), I walked to the city center where most of the popular places are located. The city streets were quiet and the weather was perfect for the go-see.
As I wander around, I got to see the Fred and Ginger Dancing Building, Charles Bridge (again), Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock, John Lennon Wall, St. Nicholas Church. Everything went well and according to plan. Until I got lost somewhere in Wenceslas Square! Good thing someone helped and gave the correct directions back to the hotel. I managed to be at the hotel before the check out time.
It was my second EMA-GA. Last year in Budapest, I participated as course representative and was more of an observer as it was my first time. This year, I played a more significant role when I represented the South East Asian Chapter, being the chapter’s VP.
It was a very nice experience, another one for the books. On the plane to Copenhagen, I happily recalled the memories of Prague and in just an hour and a half, a new adventure awaits.
Hej, Denmark! 🙂