One of the constant battles in the Adventures of Nathan and Kate is that I like to study up before a trip, whereas Nathan prefers to just show up and trust that the wonders of the destination will make themselves apparent with no great effort on his part. I can’t fathom why, but so far this has worked out pretty well for him. As a result, Nathan says he “won’t enjoy” himself if I try to show him things that I’ve taken notes on or read about. So far, he has “not enjoyed” Plovdiv, Warsaw, New York, Krakow, St. Petersburg, Vologda, and Kazan’. Fortunately, Nathan sleeps a lot on buses, which left me plenty of time to study my Frommer’s 2-hour walking tour of Old Town Prague so that I could maintain the illusion that we were hitting all the highlights by magic.

But we hit a snag at St. James’ Church. Having looked around at all the usual stuff, Nathan wandered outside, content but confused as to why I had insisted on visiting this site. Was it really the fact that it had 21 altars, making it the 2nd longest church in the city (how he thought I knew that without doing research, I’ll never understand)? While he stood on the cobblestones pondering this and other mysteries, I wandered in circles around the vestibule, then back into the church, then back into the vestibule, studying the ceiling with increasing perplexity. Finally, I explained myself with a secret from Frommer: “When you enter, look up just inside the church’s front door. The object dangling from above is the shriveled arm of a 16th-century thief.”

Finally, we located the hand, which was hanging not so much just inside the front door as somewhere random on the back wall. No one else seemed to notice it against the backdrop of the church’s baroque chaos. We gawked at the hand, which hardly looked like more than a bit of black rope, for a few minutes before turning to leave. After recovering from his initial indignation that I had planned anything, ever, Nathan muttered, “OK, I guess planning can be pretty cool sometimes…”

In my head, I heard this.

St. James’ Church

Thou shalt not do that again.

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