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Inexpensive Stay in Prague for New Year's
European youth meeting
I mentioned in a previous hub the Taize community in France that hosts thousands of young people every week during summer in that small village on top of a Burgundy hill, about a hundred kilometers north from Lyon. Some pilgrims find the time to visit Taize during other seasons as well. However, every New Year's brothers from Taize organize a youth meeting in one of the fascinating metropolises throughout Europe that take your breath away with their long history and cultural richness. The meeting usually lasts from December 29 to January 2 and every year it's in a different city. It is a perfect chance to get to know people from other countries, get closer to their culture and language, exchange experiences and even get a sense of how they live and what their every day routine is by staying with hosts in their homes for those four days.
Celebration of 2015 in Prague
This New Year's the brothers have decided to make capital of Czech Republic the place of celebration. Prague is expecting to receive up to forty thousand pilgrims on December 29, 2014, who will then stay there until January 2, 2015. These visitors will then be accommodated in homes of thousands of Czech families in and around Prague, as well as schools and churches. You do have to register first online at taize.fr, preferably before December 1 of this year.
Which part of Europe would you prefer to visit?
Preparation, cost and schedule
You're advised to bring a sleeping bag and warm clothes, since the winter in Prague can be very cold and snowy. Bring waterproof shoes or boots, warm gloves, a scarf, a hat, skin and hand lotion, lip balm, cough and fever medicine (just in case) and other necessities that will last you for four days.
Costs are different for people from different countries. Participants from UK would have to pay 75 euros if they're young adults (ages 17-35), and 115 euros if they're over 35. Same prices are probably for the US and Canada too. If you're coming from Ireland, the participation would be around 5-10 euros cheaper. For other countries it is best to contact the brothers through their website. Your contribution would cover costs of meal, which would be served three times a day in the common prayer space, which usually consists of several huge halls. It also covers the accommodation and local transportation. Most families also prepare breakfast or dinner to their guests every day.
During the day there are certain activities for the participants to take part in, such as prayers, workshops and discussions in groups. There will also be plenty of time to explore the city on your own as well as interact with the locals, go shopping, eat in Czech restaurants and drink one of the best European beers called Staropramen. Na zdravi!
Last New Year's the Taize community celebrated in Strasbourg, France. Around thirty thousand young people came from all over Europe, mostly from Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Croatia, Belarus and other countries, to join the "Pilgrimage of Trust", as it these meetings are usually called. They were being placed in homes on both side of river Rhine, in France and Germany. Some workshops included topics such as “Crisis, unemployment, job insecurity... do we need to invent a new economic model?”, “Justice and human rights: personal reflections on the challenge of being a Christian.”, “Ecumenical dialogue: to coexist peacefully or to let ourselves be transformed by encountering others?”, “Do we need the Church? Bible reflection on fellowship in Christ.”, “Europe, the land of migrations: how can we live together better?” and many others that stimulated serious and useful discussions among young adults.
They year before that the meeting was being held in Rome, Italy, where forty five thousand young people gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray together. In 2011 the "Pilgrimage of Trust" brought Christians together in the capital of Germany, Berlin. A year before I found myself staying with a lovely old Dutch couple in Delft, a small town not so far from Rotterdam, which was the host of the Meeting that year. That was my third European meeting I went to, two before that being in Geneva in 2007, where I was a Swiss family's guest, and Brussels in 2008, where a Belgian family made sure I was warm in one of their rooms, since I was under the weather. Alors, dress warm and drink hot soup!