The first thing I noticed was the shoes.
I got the idea in my head that if I could spend 24 hours on the Charles Bridge in Prague, I’d learn something about the city itself. I may not have made it all 24 hours, but I did spend a lot of time there.
Sometimes the Charles Bridge just seemed like a bridge. Simply a way to get from one side of the river to the other, from the Old Town to Prague Castle up on the hill. But other times, it was an attraction. A place to explore and linger. A place where people from all walks of life converge.
And there were so many shoes — Nikes and Adidas and Pumas and Vans and Converse All Stars. Gym shoes and sneakers and Birkenstocks and Chacos. Ballet flats. Boat shoes. Flip flops. Hiking boots. Crocs. One yellow shoe, one blue.
It was like the amount of variation in shoes directly correlated to the variety of people on the bridge, too. Or at least, that’s how I liked to think about it.
This is a picture of my shoes, on the old stones of the Charles Bridge. I spent the entire summer in these shoes. They took me everywhere from Italy to Morocco, Romania to Denmark, Croatia to Ireland. They smelled horrible, but never ceased to be comfortable. They were brand new when I left in May, and dirty and worn by the end of August. I ended up leaving them in a garbage can at our last AirBnB in Iceland, slightly afraid that if I packed them to bring home with me, my luggage would smell just as bad when I got back to Cincinnati.
Sometimes, I regret not holding on to them. After all, they took me so much further than I could’ve imagined.