On Tuesday 30th June 2020, a 515 metre dining table was added to the historic Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. Those lucky enough to receive one of the free tickets were invited to bring food and drinks to celebrate the end of Covid-19 restrictions.
We offered a few tickets via our Sister site https://thepraguereview.com/ and one of the recipients was Lola, a Spanish native living in Prague, this is her story.
The story of a unique occasion to sit at a 500 metre-long table on the most iconic bridge in Prague
by Lola Gomez Delgado, Prague
“Be our guest, be our guest. The banquet’s all prepared!” You could almost hear Lumiere, from Beauty and the Beast, shouting these words throughout the event.
The night had no other reason than to celebrate the end of the lock down. Prague, like any other great city in the world, has had to go through a long quarantine due to coronavirus. Its inhabitants can be proud to consider quarantine over and celebrate accordingly.
While the streets of the centre and the beautiful Old Town Square stood silent from the lack of tourists, another of the city’s icons, Charles Bridge, was more alive than ever. That night, the bridge served as a dining room for up to 400 people, who sat down to share food and drinks with friends, family and even strangers.
To begin with, I can tell you something about how I found myself enjoying the company of some friends on Charles Bridge; something I would never have imagined. First, I have to introduce you to Andrea.
She is a Spanish girl who came to Prague to work as a designer at the beginning of 2020. After spending the hardest part of winter, the lock down arrived – until a few weeks ago she hadn’t had the chance to go out and enjoy the city nor its people. Fed up with this situation she decided to write a message, in several expats groups, saying that she was willing to meet and spend time with new people. She got a big surprise when she received almost 200 messages from people in a similar situation. So, she decided to make the first meet up of what later became `Mr Lonely in Prague´, a Facebook group. That is how they called themselves, but it is far from reality. They have a WhatsApp group with 155 participants, more in Facebook and meet every week for different activities whose aim is enjoying the city. Of course, a group like this could not miss a great opportunity to have dinner in such an emblematic place. Andrea assured us that it was a very original event and perfect to enjoy after having spent the whole quarantine alone. Besides, she thought it was a unique chance to be on the famous bridge before it was filled with tourists again.
And that’s how I got to know the event myself and ended up going to dinner with certain acquaintances and many strangers from all continents.
Andrea’s story may seem peculiar, but it wasn’t the only one. Seated at the long table there were hundreds of people and all with a good reason to be there. For Dorota, a Czech girl, who sat down just near us, this event seems special and has become the perfect ending of all the boredom suffered during quarantine. “I was really happy when I knew about this event and I was lucky to have a ticket and enjoy being here with some friends” she said.
Tickets were highly valued. The participation in the event was free, however there were a limited number of places – the organisers offered tickets that flew away as soon as the news of this party ran through the networks.
Walking by the table, you could hear different conversations, all of them showing joy and excitement, and many of them in English. That is the case of Michael from Australia and his seatmate, Stephanie, from the same country. The third man accompanying them is from Germany and none of them have met before tonight. All came alone and have met each other around the table where they exchanged some dishes and had a nice talk. “I have come here to celebrate life, obviously, and to celebrate the end of the coronavirus and to enjoy people,” said this foreigner. “We just met here, this is the best of these kind of events, you just come and share with others”, he added.
When I asked where are they from, some people answered by pointing; “That’s my building, I live in this district and I’ve come to hang out with friends”.
“We are all from Prague and we are here having a beer after work, we could not miss the big dining table. It´s the first time this happened and it may never happen again, we couldn’t miss it”, says a Czech publicist who refuses to make any further statements because he has “already had a bit to drink”.
Michael’s vision is more empowering. He believes that this occasion shows “how the bridge should be used and how it should look like after the quarantine”. Full of life? “Yes, but also opened for Prague’s people, no pickpockets, tourists, shopkeepers and so on” assures this young man. “It should stay that way for people, not for business, but this is a wider problem of how public space is used in the city” he finishes.
Sharing food and drink
The event was free of charge, but the ticket only included a seat, table and a few bottles with flowers for decoration. The attendees brought their own drinks and food. In fact, part of the charm of the evening consisted in sharing the different meals along the table with friends and strangers.
There was a bit of everything. Japanese food, a little sushi. And Italian, we were not surprised to see several pizzas. Homemade Czech sweets and other international ones like cupcakes. For drinks there were glasses and toasts with champagne, wine, shots and of course lots of beer.
In the case of the show, there was no reason to complain either. A group of musicians were playing different songs, very popular in the country, as you can see in the video for the amusement of the guests and attraction of many of the cameras, including mine.
On behalf of the organisation, we watched the procession of a young woman, standing on the shoulders of a boy, while eating grapes. The symbolism of the gesture escaped us, but not the beauty of the image in the evening light.
The magic of the evening was almost like a Disney movie, except this was real and I was there.