How did it get so late so soon?
I’ve hear those words running through my head many many times—I heard them watching my brother drive off to college, and when I gazed out from the theatre stage the night before my last performance, sitting on my front porch at 2 am on the day of high school graduation, meeting in a parking lot to share one last hug with a dear friend before I left Drake for winter break, waving quickly goodbye to my parents before we lost sight of each other in O’Hare’s departures gate.
And just yesterday as I lay on the grass in the park at Kampa Island and set my pen to the page of a fresh journal those words came back to me again.
I know I’ve got a month left to enjoy here, so I won’t go full blown melancholic. But knowing we’re on the home stretch has produced a mixture of emotions, and has lit a metaphorical fire under my behind to live up these remaining days.
Part of Prague’s charm that I will miss most is the way you can walk anywhere and find multiple cafés, restaurants, parks, or pubs within a four block radius. Especially in the city center, the narrow streets run willy-nilly and become home to hidden little shops and eateries. In some of my first weeks here I was on a sort of café-crusade, trying to frequent as many as I could (and trying as many cakes and pastries as I could get my hands on). In the past few weeks I’ve resurrected the hunt, enjoying little tucked away cafes and returning to some favorite spots. The search has expanded to include parks, which now are green and lined with blossom laden trees. In many ways, this week could be accurately dubbed as “Seven Days of Food, Flowers, Drink, and Dessert.” I figure this is a fine way to continue the Easter celebration, right?
A quick run-down of the finds, favorites, etc:
- I Need Coffee. No that’s not a personal motto. It’s the name of a tiny café near Charles Square where I joined Alyssa and Olivia on Tuesday morning to work on homework. The peppermint iced tea was delectable, and the lack of Wifi meant that I cranked out some work on an essay that’s been languishing in the corner of some folder for way too long.
- Kavarna Slavia: Kavarna is the Czech word for coffee house or café, but instead of coffee Olivia and I enjoyed a savory crepe. It had real vegetables (ok so the vegetables we normally eat here in Prague are “real.” We were just excited that it wasn’t some form of cabbage, potato, or otherwise pickled/minced food)
- FreshpointL A large cheese pizza to die for. A ten minute walk and seven dollars later and I am one happy girl. In fact, I still have a piece waiting in the refrigerator—here’s to leftovers lunch!
- Hemingway’s Bar: Quite possibly the classiest establishment I’ve been to in Prague (aside from Café Louvre). With lovable pictures of the namesake decorating the walls, we all raise our glasses to that one guy we all read in high-school (ok I do have a bit of a soft spot for him). And then we laugh that one of the “bar rules” forbids use of crude language since we imagine that he would have probably broken said rule.
- Petrin Park: On the castle side of the river, the infamous Petrin Hill is crowned by the mini Eiffel Tower. Near the bottom of the hill, however, the towering trees and rocks give way to open green grass dotted with patches of orchards. A perfect place for an afternoon sit, Liv and Lyss and I enjoyed some journaling there and soaked in the sun before classes began.
Last week I wrote about my first Easter away from family. And though it was tough not being able to celebrate with the fam, I luckily got the next best thing—a visit from another friendly face from home. Longtime friend Alec and his travel companion Matt came to Prague as part of a spring break odyssey. They are both studying in Wales and are using these two weeks to see as much of central Europe as time and their wallets can manage.
They arrived Wednesday morning and over the next few days I got to join in on their site-seeing and exploring, as well as take them to a few of my favorite spots. We met Wednesday afternoon in Hany-Bany, a tiny pub frequented by university students and boasting an “aggressively cheap” (as my friend Gaby puts it) menu. Over happy hour beers we chatted before taking a trip to my neighborhood. We enjoyed the evening in the Letna park and beer garden, then joined in on the birthday celebration for Carly, a girl from my program.
Thursday included a mix of site-seeing and hiking (in Prague the two tend to coincide). Aside from the more iconic places, we also stopped at a mirror maze (which provided great photo-ops) and enjoyed the Petrin gardens and river walk. The castle was closed Thursday due to an EU meeting, but luckily Alec and Matt were sticking around until Friday so we made the climb (again) up through Lesser Town to the Castle Quarter and toured around Tyn Cathedral. I had to scoot off for Jewish History class so we said farewell. Though brief, it was a comfort to spend time with someone from home.
At the tail end of the Jewish history class, which consisted of a field trip to the Pinkus and Spanish synagogues, as well as a return visit to the Jewish cemetery, the blue sky turned gray and started spitting. I of course had not remembered my rain jacket so I decided to make a run for it. It was a delightfully funny scene running through Old Town square—the Easter Market goers were all frantically scurrying around trying to seek shelter, meanwhile on a big tent-covered-stage a children’s choir was warming up for a concert with some less than angelic vocal exercises. Just as I ran past the Kafka Café (the building where Franz Kafka was born) I noticed my first Czech teacher, Zdena, standing in the archway of the adjacent building. She gave me a big hug (even though I hadn’t fared well in the rain) and we talked for a bit before I ran back out during a break in the rain. A much needed shower was followed by a second trip to Hany Bany with Olivia and Alyssa for some chicken schnitzel.
Yesterday I knocked another item off the “Prague Bucket List”—Lyss and Liv and I went paddle-boating on the Vltava! It was beautiful and sunny and we managed to follow almost all the given instructions (don’t go over the dam, don’t harass the people in the swan paddleboats, big boats go first, and go with the flow of traffic—we may have inadvertently broken that last one) The one set of sticky pedals also made for a great leg workout. We topped off the afternoon by lying in the grass on Kampa Island; I started writing in a new journal I’d bought that morning at a fashion market in Prague 7 and we watched the families and the dogs there enjoying the sunshine.
Six Tidbits From My Week:
- An elderly man helped me put on my sweater in the metro—at first I thought someone was trying to steal something from me. You can imagine my embarrassment.
- I managed to use enough Czech to help an Australian couple buy metro tickets.
- It rained on the way home. I got caught in it. I had no jacket. My shoes got muddy from all the construction work near my dorm but it was still a pretty good rain dance.
- The lilacs were in bloom in the peacock garden.
- I got to watch part of the canonization mass from my room via live stream. Here’s to at least one perk of my time zone!
- Dad pulled up Skype so I got to wish my cousin Caitlin Happy Birthday and say “hey” to the family.
‘Til next time