Staroměstská radnice (Old Town Square), Prague, CZ.  18 December 2009.

I’m writing from the Prague airport as I wait on my flight to Dublin…it was delayed two hours.  Last night was a magical night: it was cold, but not icy.  The snowflakes glittered in the streetlight.  I was coming home from a friend’s house and the evening was too good to pass up.  I called my roommate, who grabbed my camera and met me at the metro stop.  We caught one of the last metros to Old Town Square and enjoyed the quiet beauty of the Christmas tree lighting up the square.  The crowds of the day had dissipated and the Square was still.  Unfortunately, my battery was also lacking life and it died after about a dozen shots.

This afternoon, I went back to Old Town Square hoping to recapture some of the magic from last night before catching my evening flight to Dublin.  It was my last chance to enjoy the Christmas tree since I’m not sure it will be up when I return.  As I walked into town, I noticed smoke billowing over the spires of the square.  (Aha, you say, finally something to do with the photo–)  Prague has loads of Nativity scenes and Old Town Square has at least two if my memory is correct.  And now it has one less.  I saw the glow of fire from afar and as most people moved away, I moved in for a closer look.  It was awful.  Flames hungrily devoured the manger.  I wondered whether this was a from faulty wiring or if someone had intentionally torched it.  A small crowd stood watching the flames with a lone policeman halfheartedly holding them back.  It was a good 10 minutes before someone brought out the fire extinguishers which dimmed the blaze but did not quench it (see the next photo).  After another 10 minutes, the fire department finally arrived on the scene along with their own photographer and videographer.  It was a bit strange.   Even more odd was the other half of the square: the choir continued singing and throngs of people browsed the stalls and drank mulled wine, oblivious to the drama just a few meters away (see the third photo).

So, it was a strange way to say goodbye to Prague.  OK, I’m off to go through the security check for my flight.  Next post will be from Dublin.  Bon voyage…