Imagine. A piece inspired by a lesser town.
"It is possible," said the busker, gingerly holding onto her cello. The little girl she was speaking to approached closer. "Sometimes we are told it's not possible, but it is always possible."
It is always possible.
That's the way travel makes me feel, that anything you dream of is possible. Each weightless moment of wheels up signifies an escape from the conventional, and permission to use your imagination.
Oslo rendered such a feeling. Perhaps it was the frosted landscape, pixels of ice coating the trees and fields seen from the window of the train we took into the city center. Perhaps, the easily-navigable streets and friendly faces shining out from behind raveled scarves made it natural to feel welcomed and – dare I say it – warm, in a mere 18 degrees.
This marked my third trip to the Scandinavian region, visits to Stockholm and Copenhagen preceding it, and quite unanticipated, my favorite. Yes, we were short on daylight hours and yes, the temperatures were frigid, but I wouldn't recommend you see Oslo any other way. The night sky backdrops the twinkling lights of the modest Christmas market, add a steaming cup of gløgg and a seat by the fire; this festivity would not exist without the darkness or the degree. A scene so deliriously cozy, you didn’t have to imagine how these parts equated to a happy sum.
Prague, conversely, was hectic: choppy lanes of crooked cobblestones; tourists swirling and swarming the Old Town Square to catch a glimpse of the Astronomical Clock's hourly dance, peruse stalls of the Christmas markets and marvel at the spires of the Tyn. The panorama of Prague is surely its fever pitch; rust-red roofs, gilded domes of government buildings, mint green spires stretching skyward. This color palette is rivaled only by the setting sun; a cascade of pinks, blues, and yellows framing the castle atop the hill. But once the sun set, the chaos ensued.
Central Prague, known as Praha 1, is no longer home to locals, and the many forced-tourist attractions and foreign eateries proved my theory. Frankly, this façade initially turned me off. Especially after visiting Oslo, in its pristine condition and our capable endeavoring, Prague was a wild child of a city. It took us venturing 30 minutes by tram to a monastery-slash-brewery to see the how the locals live. And finally, by explanation of a tour guide, I was able to reconcile Prague’s past with its present state and appreciate its trajectory: the former Communist city leveraged its beauty to lure tourists and garner economic growth. But was I convinced to love Prague like I had Oslo?
Then, a moment of synchronicity arrived right on cue. By my request, we ambled across the Charles Bridge and strolled the Malá Strana, or Lesser Town. We encountered a Czech woman playing the cello. She'd just finished both playing and singing a song as we strolled past, and a young girl had approached her. She told the girl, "It is possible. Sometimes we are told it's not possible, but it is always possible." This imparted wisdom caused me to pause and turn back. The busker was referring to the possibility of being a cellist and a vocalist at the same time, but as I considered her sentiment I caught sight of the wall behind her. In bold blue graffiti were the words: Live Your Dream. (It is always possible.)
Adventure, the gift I'd given myself for my thirtieth birthday, was gifting me right back. There, amongst the chaos of Prague, was travel’s unwavering reminder; the bounty of adventure; the fortune awaiting the brave: anything you dream of is possible when you escape the conventional and use your imagination.