One of the advantages to living in a capital city such as Prague is getting to see more notable people passing through than I could back home. While there, I saw Prince Charles and his entourage strolling through Mala Strana, the Pope’s caravan of cars driving along the river (and the window was cracked, so I may have glimpsed the top of his hat), and of course the championship-winning Czech ice hockey team. Though the hockey team had a fairly impressive welcome home party in Old Town Square after their victory, none of those caused quite the kerfuffle that our very own president did when he visited in April of 2009.
On that epic day, I gathered with a group of friends, and we joined the sea of humanity that streamed up towards Prague Castle. Using public transport that day was completely out of the question, as was any thought of escape once we had all squeezed through the crooked alleys and streets that lead onto Hradčanské náměstí, the square in front of the castle, where President Obama would be speaking. Our group struggled to stick together, making our way to a less crowded space with a decent view of one of the big screens. We noted the sniper ninjas placed on buildings around us, cleverly blending in among the statues that edge most of the rooftops of the square. We noted the lack of beers in hands, nearly unheard of for any public gathering in the CZR!
Soon though, the time had come. I took this picture of pictures when Mr. and Mrs. Obama first appeared on the big screen. Smartphones weren’t too big yet in 2009 (at least, not in the CZR), so this feels charmingly dated to me.
Also, if you think a kid hanging off of a taxi stand sign is dangerous, you should have seen the one who had climbed up into one of the enormous lampposts. He probably had a better view of the stage than us. So we made due with the screens broadcasting the man himself…
To be honest, I definitely had to google in order to remember what the speech was about. Foreign relations, to be sure, but Wikipedia tells me that the main thrust of his speech that day was on nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War world. That does sound familiar, but for me it was really more about the experience than what he was saying.
It’s not too often that you have the chance to see your country’s sitting president in the flesh (on a video screen, or teeeny tiny in the distance if you hop up and down #shortpeopleproblems), and who knows if it will ever happen again? And at the risk of sounding too political, this election cycle kiiiiiind of makes me want to stick my head in the oven so it’s nice to think back on a day that I was happy to be an American in Euroland. Let’s all hang on to those memories, shall we?