Prague, Czech Republic
April 30, 2022
One of the best things about travel is discovering the unexpected. Something different.
Earlier this afternoon we saw a procession of people wearing witches hats and carrying an effigy of a creepy figurine. What sort of Coven was this? I had images of Nicholas Cage in the horror movie “The Wicker Man” where it ends with his sacrificial demise and a gigantic burning wicker man.
So what were we looking at? Our guide explained that today is similar to our Halloween, but not exactly. That this is a celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of spring commemorated by the burning of symbolic witches in bon fires and having BBQs, of course. This centuries old ritual, otherwise known as the “Burning of the Witches”, is observed annually across the Czech Republic on April 30th.
It was now the evening of April 30th and I felt particularly spirited as we found ourselves walking toward the Vltava riverfront, about 3 blocks from our hotel.
It was as if a spell had been cast as we promenaded down the steps to the river and into an open air market place that encompassed a large section of the boardwalk. Being dusk we agreed to stop at the churro stand before the market closed. We were also looking forward to checking out the riverboat restaurants when we noticed something utterly unique.
I’m not sure what to call them, but on the opposing side of the boardwalk and within the walls of the riverside embankment are a series of Vaults with huge circular hinged glass doors. These cool spaces with their humongous “water tight” porthole like doors were former storage units that have been converted into a series of waterfront bars, cafés and galleries. So totally unexpected since they are not visible from the top of the embankment.
After exploring the boardwalk a little further we stopped to eat pizza on one of the riverboats, which also turned out to be a great place for people watching. Being Saturday night and a Pagan holiday there were a lot of young people out and about. I enjoyed checking out the latest in European fashion mixed with a splattering of Witches with hats.
Before returning to our hotel only one “burning” question remained; had that churro stand closed yet?