As the Cirque's last day in Angkor Wat comes to a close, the grounds light up. Compared to the last feast day, this one is jovial and bright. There are tables filled with excellent foods, piled high with everything from meats to sweets. There are local delicacies mixed in with the usual fare, bowls of spicy noodles and rich barbeque. The evening rises up around them, brightened by the lights of the circus. But these fade, going out one by one as the employees take to their beds.
Just before midnight, the Coven, the Ringmaster, and some of the Fae gather around the Cauldron. Soon, the familiar power begins to build. The magic is the same as always, both familiar and strange. A steady build, a sudden swell – the feeling of time and space folding in on themselves... And then the release of all the magic, the dizzying sensation of movement and then settling. Just like that, the heavy heat of Cambodia is gone, faded into something cooler, something breezier. But this week, the change in atmosphere is not the most interesting development.
Even around the employees, the trailers seem to melt away, replaced by opulent rooms decorated in similar fashions to their normal homes. The rooms have every amenity – attached bathrooms and sitting rooms, comfortable beds. When their owners venture forth, they find themselves in the hallways of a large, old castle. Outside in the courtyard, the Ferris wheel rises familiarly, its lights twinkling in the dark. Below, in the depths of the castle, the Ice Gardens and the Frozen Symphony reside still and safe. Each of the attractions has its own space, one that pulls the employees toward it as surely as the Cirque itself pulled them in.
Around the castle, the city of Prague rises – ancient and full of mysteries, full of history waiting to be discovered. The streets are winding and confusing; they're like a maze. Shops may be discovered, only to be lost and never found again. There are countless castles in the city. During other times of the year, these are shrouded with heavy fog, but the weather in June is lovely, temperate and comfortable. The views from the small castle that the Cirque has claimed are lovely, although not as spectacular as those of Prague Castle itself.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed the City of a Hundred Spires, it's known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches, and he medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.
Rising above the city on a steep hill, the 9th-century Prague Castle is now the seat of the Czech president. The castle's St. Vitus Cathedral includes windows designed by art-nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha. The city's former Jewish Quarter is home to the Old-New Synagogue, Europe's oldest active Jewish house of worship, and the Old Jewish Cemetery, with thousands of vertically stacked graves. New Town's main boulevard is lively Wenceslas Square, where art-nouveau buildings house shops and cafes. Letná Park, with views over Prague's bridges and red rooftops, has a large beer garden.