A Sentimental Return

Letter From Prague

Returning to a city you once loved is always a perilous experience, for it is so easy to be disappointed—as happened to me several years ago when I returned to Venice, a seaborne city I had not seen for more than 40 years.  How can anyone be disappointed by Venice?  My answer had little to do with Venice, whose enchantment, so long as it remains afloat, is timeless; it had to do with the raggle-taggle, blue-jean-and-T-shirt-clad mob of invaders I found myself having to battle every time I stepped out of the hotel and ventured on to the Piazza San Marco or tried to circle the lagoon along the Riva dei Schiavoni.  And this in what I had innocently fancied was the “off-season” tourist month of October!

Having learned from this bitter experience when not to travel, when not to ruin a fond memory, I decided to take no chances in returning to Bohemia.  I therefore chose one of the very coldest moments of the year—late January—to revisit what, ever since I first beheld it during the summer of 1945, was and has remained the lovely, the breathtakingly beautiful, uniquely baroco-Gothic or Gothico-baroque city of Prague.  How right I was!  For I found the old town, with its plethora of red-tiled rooftops, cupolas, and spires, its buttressed bridge with its quaintly gesticulating saints and bishops and its three medieval watchtowers, its long, rambling castle, and its...

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