High Water

After a week of flooding, the most dramatic ones in Central Europe over the past decade, we were not quite sure that we would make our way down to Prague. Our train left the Berlin Hauptbahnhof shortly after 10am in the morning. The sky was clear; rain was not expected to fall for the next 2 days. Passengers would get on board with their luggage, mill about, and mind their own business. The journey was pleasant and the train was running at full speed before we stopped in Dresden for a few minutes.



I was sitting in a cabin, reading a magazine when I realized that we were moving very slowly. I looked through the window and I noticed a striking change in the scenery;  houses completely under water and streets swamped by the floods. In some places, it felt as if the river had engulfed the entire village;  only the tops of trees and traffic lights were visible. The train alternately sped up and slowed down along the way. The Elbe River has broken through several dikes a few days ago, and the current was still very strong. The train followed this river as we left Germany and entered Czech Republic. With high waters on both sides, it seemed like our train was advancing on a very narrow path.





As I got out of the cabin, I noticed all these passengers quietly standing in the alley and staring at the window. I remember the silence that prevailed in the car for most of the journey and the stunning landscape that was passing by; a troubling and tragic sight.









We arrived in Prague with a 2 hour delay. As we wandered through the city, it became clear that something was different. For a city that is normally engorged by tourists, it was eerily quiet in the streets of Prague. No traffic in the old town and no pedestrian on the Charles Bridge. Only the fog was missing.