Last March, I left Madrid during my Semana Santa vacations and set off for Eastern Europe, first spending a few beautiful days in Budapest, and then taking a long, rainy train ride through the Hungarian countryside, into Slovakia, and finally to Prague. My second night there, I took a hard tumble on some very timeworn cobblestones and had to hitch a ride home on the back of a friend. I went to bed, hoping my foot would feel better in the morning, but woke up to find that it had grown three times its size and turned a very attractive purple-black-green color. I tested out putting weight on it. Nope. Not happening.
Sometimes, traveling can seem a little bit like you’re some hapless lab rat in one long string of Murphy’s Law experiments. You can get lost, lose your wallet, and get sick, all in one day. Being somewhere foreign and new creates a situation where little accidents are just more likely to happen, and it’s easy to read into these accidents as signs rather than what they are: just a part of life.
Luckily, I had my mom to remind me of this important detail. By some beautiful chance of fate, she just happened to look at her phone at 3 in the morning, the very moment when I had texted her, sobbing at the sight of my swollen, bruised ankle. In true mom fashion, she quickly put everything in perspective and encouraged me to make the most of the rest of the time I had in Prague.
It’s definitely not easy to get around Prague on crutches (a warning to any travelers with physical limitations considering a trip there)– but the beauty of my time in Prague was that once I changed my perspective on what had happened, I actually was able to simply enjoy the city because of all the kind people that helped me get around and enjoy the city, even if I couldn’t walk around in it. New friends in my hostel would bring me food, ice, and ibuprofen at all times of day and night, and others would help me scale the stairs to watch a movie or enjoy the nightly communal dinner. On my last day in the city, a sweet new friend patiently walked with me at a snail’s pace all over the Old Town, insisting that I at least eat my way through the city before I left.
Prague helped me learn a valuable lesson: so much of what happens to us in travel and in life is completely dependent on our own perception of the situation at hand. I could have (and most likely would have without my mom’s sage advice), written the whole trip off as a disaster and had terrible memories of the place where I broke my ankle. Instead, I look at that trip as a kind of reverse-Murphy’s Law experiment: I was lucky enough to be surrounded by dozens of kind people, in a beautiful city, and I even got some temporary ankle hardware to remember it all by.
I’ll be traveling back to Prague to see everything I missed on crutches in a week. I would love to hear your Prague travel tips– food, beer, or sightseeing, gimme what you got!