Well, here we are in Prague, at the beginning of our European fact-finding mission! We’re experimenting by spending 8 weeks in a culture we’ve never experienced, to see what it’s like to really live in Europe. We’ve been here for a week already, and we are settling in fairly well, despite not getting beyond hello (dobry den), please (proscim), and thank you (dekuji). The Czech language is definitely a challenge!
Our Airbnb is a fantastic one bedroom apartment in Prague 4, which is a quiet residential neighborhood rife with excellent pup-spying opportunities. The apartment consists of about 700 beautifully appointed square feet; a perfect layout for us, including a full kitchen and a washer (no dryer, there’s a large rack in the foyer). I’m not sure I’ll be getting used to crunchy towels anytime soon, but one never knows! I barely even notice having no dishwasher after the past 6 weeks without one in CT. In our 11 months of traveling full-time, it’s been fascinating to learn how quickly we can get used to just about anything. The other thing is there’s no air conditioning…and Europe is having a record heat wave right now. It’s 100 today. Luckily the windows open onto a shady courtyard, there’s a pretty good breeze up here on the fourth floor, and Jim is Mr. Miyagi with swatting the flies (no screens here… a bit odd, but at least we haven’t had any stray pigeons fly in yet!). Side note: the outdoor photo below is not our actual building but ours is similar.
We were surprised to find that Prague is just about as hilly as Pittsburgh (which is to say, very). If you don’t mind a little hiking (and the heat), everything is quite walkable and there is a world-class public transit system of trams, buses and trains that is extremely reasonably priced and easy to use (thank goodness for Google maps to tell us what line to take!). We have been busy congratulating ourselves for picking a neighborhood with lots of grocery shops and specialty food stores, which makes it super easy to pick up things to cook and snack on, rather than going out to eat all the time (full credit to Jim as our Airbnb booker extraordinaire!). However, there are also several great pubs, coffee shops and a beautiful shady beer garden right in the neighborhood. Plus an inordinate number of creative and delicious vegetarian restaurants and options, to my surprise and delight. We continue to be amazed at how inexpensive food and drink are (granted, we’re comparing to the Northeast, but still!).
We’ve basically been spending our time settling in to a regular daily routine. Jim is working full-time so his days are full (bonus: the internet is excellent!), and we’ve had such exciting adventures as taking the dry cleaning, Jim getting a haircut, and searching out the Italian specialty shop for our all-important Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (success on all counts!). It’s been a little harder for me to get into a routine, since I’ve finished seminary school and am still brainstorming ideas for work while we travel. It’s been nice to have a little free time without the recent whirlwind of classes, homework, business trips and packing, though.
Yesterday we had our first “tourist” day in Old Town Prague. My first impression…HOT! (Seriously…I am such a Northerner now, LOL) And crowded. Prague is filled with gorgeous architecture and views. The cobblestone streets are charming. The Vltava River is lovely and there are so many large trees and parks around. There is also graffiti everywhere, which is a little depressing. And a million souvenir shops. We did a quick round of the standard sites (Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square) in preparation for more in-depth touring when Jim’s mom Lia visits this upcoming week, before deciding we had had our fill of the crowds.
However, after getting a second wind, we decided to head back out in the evening. Prague turns on the charm as the sun goes down and the breeze picks up. We debated whether to visit one of the beer gardens along the river, but instead we were able to score seats at a speakeasy called Hemingway’s that was recommended to Jim. We had a fabulous time sitting at the bar and trying Czech gin (OMG) and custom cocktails collaboratively created by Jim and our bartender Thomas. As we were tramming it back home, Jim snapped the header image of the castle reflected in the river.
We’re looking forward to getting to know Prague better in the coming weeks. We’re grateful to be here!
We miss you all though! We’d love to hear from you… Jim’s Google phone works like normal here, but mine costs $10 extra a day for talk and text, so I’m trying to limit those charges by using WhatsApp and email only. So if you text or call me and I don’t answer, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because my data is turned off. 🙂
Daria and Jim