• Emily Kim


I’ve never worn tights so often in my life. My year abroad: the year of panty-hose. Fall: paired with skirts and dresses. Winter: layered under jeans for added warmth. My year in tights.

Who'da thunk it?

Largely preserved, the richly intricate yet somehow haunting architecture of Prague looms over as I pull said hose up, adjusting my jeans over them. I’m not used to this. I’ve always been a one layer of pants kind of girl. It’s Christmas day and the streets are surprisingly busy; shuffling, half-frozen feet; shop windows with last-ditch discounts; mulled wine on every corner, a little too sweet but hot and alcoholic so… we down a few. Anything in the name of warmth (ahem, panty hose). Although apparently the most agnostic city in Europe, the streets are warm, dressed in lights and ribbons for the Christmas season. The main square is gorgeous- a busy Christmas market settled around what has to be the world’s largest Christmas tree. We gather round its base and feel small.

We try (what turns out to be the only Czech food we sample in three days) Czech pizza. Qué ricaaaaa. A buttery, cheesy smothered bread… what’s not to love? We walk around the square wondering what to do with ourselves this Christmas night. Stumbling past the incredible, astronomical clock and down the cobbled streets, we will serendipity to guide our feet.

It’s getting late (for Christmas day) and it feels strange not to be with family. But we’ve made a make-shift family between ourselves and our hostel mates: a sweet guy, Chai, studying veterinary medicine at a university just a little outside of Prague; and Chelsea, an American en route home from a year teaching English in Spain. As all the doors close for the night, we alight upon a poorly drawn chalkboard sign: “BAR” with an arrow pointing down some very steep stairs. Might as well.

I duck beneath a dip of ceiling into a cavern… a cavern with an affinity for punk metal. We slowly approach the bar, obvious outsiders. It’s empty save two rough-looking regulars, who take a break from their cigarettes to give us a half grimace greeting. Chai looks nervous.

“Maybe we should sit near the exit?” he suggests… in lieu of going deeper into the cave, where the air is smoke and the heavy metal seems to originate.

“Nah,” and I take a round of beers into the dept