Reading is Sexy: Project Praha

In just 38 days, Dave and I will be on the plane to Prague – or, more accurately, on the plane to Minneapolis, then Amsterdam, then Prague. But still: ON THE PLANE. Adventure awaits! Capers beckon! Mysteries will unravel! Pastries will be consumed.

This weekend, I started daydreaming about it and planning (outfits, excursions) for it in earnest, and I gotta say, I’m totally distracted by the idea. It’s like this:

Oh, crap! I should get (Prague!) my clothes out of the (Prague!) dryer. And I should (Prague!) really eat something; I haven’t had a (Prague!) snack since breakfast. (Prague!) Damn! I didn’t get a new (Prague!) alarm clock. I sure am sick (Prague!) of having the air conditioner blasting. (Prague!) That movie Salt was pretty good; nice hair! (Prague!)

Which is a long way to go to ask you to please bear with me over the next few weeks as I immerse myself in books about Prague and desperately try to master a few conversational phrases so I don’t sound like an ugly, ignorant American. (Seriously. Listen to this. It’s the pronunciation of “Wenceslas Square” in Czech. It’s hopeless. My words are going to fail me, people.)

In addition to the Prague highlights that are recommended in just about every guidebook – Prague Castle, Mala Strana, Charles Bridge, the Old Jewish Cemetary, the Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square, the beer!, Wallenstein Garden, and all things Kafka – I’m ridiculously excited to go to CrossFit Praha for a few workouts and a t-shirt which bears the slogan “No Televisions. No Mirrors. No Excuses. Only Results.” Hey Zdenek and Joey, save us some t-shirts, please!

And we’re going to a rock show to see Cechomor. In a town whose name I can only barely pronounce – to see a band whose name I can only barely pronounce. But they appear to be wicked fun. (See official videos here.)

And, holy crap!, I forgot to mention we’re also going to Berlin for a few days and meeting up with my friend Brian who lives in London whom I haven’t seen in, like, nine years. He’s fantastic and we will take Berlin by storm.

I am all la-la-la-la wheeeeee! woohoo! la-la-la! Prague! Praha! Berlin! Wheeeee!

Because I’m a total word nerd, my reading stack is loaded with guidebooks for Prague and Berlin, along with a few collections of travel essays and thrillers set on the cobblestone streets we’ll soon be walking:

Prague: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
Twenty-four stories about Prague, arranged by the area of the city in which they’re set.

Travelers’ Tales Prague
Short stories and essays from travelers who know the city well. I hope their knowledge rubs off on me.

The Night of Wenceslas
A thriller by Lionel Davidson: “He was a coward, a womanizer, and a fool… until he became the perfect spy.”

The Black Angel
A thriller by John Connolly: “Detective Charlie Parker discovers links to a church of bones in Eastern Europe, a 1944 slaughter at a French monastary, and to the myth of an object know as the Black Angel – considered by evil men to be beyond priceless.”

The Fifth Servant
A novel by Kenneth Wishnia: “Set in 16th-century Prague, Wishnia’s outstanding debut convincingly transforms a Jewish sexton and his rabbinic mentor into a plausible pair of sleuths… Well-developed characters and detailed portrayals of life at the time help make this historical crime thriller a gripping page-turner.”

The Historian
I’ve already read (and totally, utterly, ridiculously loved) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s not set in Prague, but does traipse all over Eastern Europe and Istanbul in the search for the truth about Vlad the Impaler. Believe it or not, it’s got romance and humor, along with the chills. AWESOME! So I’m reading it again to get in the mood for cobblestones, foreign sounds in my ears, and mysteries around every corner.


Our plan is to mostly walk around and watch people and soak it all in without being too touristy, but…iIf you have suggestions for things I shouldn’t miss, places I really should eat, or people you think I should contact in Prague or Berlin, please post to comments or shoot me an email at mel at chancemccoy dot com.


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  • Meagan says:

    From my year of living in Prague 10 years ago, I remember little of the language, except (all phonetically spelled):

    Yak seh mahsh – how's it going
    Yehden Pee-vo, proseem! – one beer please (don't ask me why I know this, I didn't even drink beer before I went paleo!)
    Tahk chow – informal way of saying goodbye

    I think that's all I remember. HAVE FUN! It's an amazing city.

  • Lauren {StylizedExistence} says:

    Melissa – I lived in Prague from March until a few days ago, and I worked out at CF Praha for about a month until some pesky headaches kept me out of the gym for the remainder of my time living there – have fun, they're a great group and the dynamic is really interesting since about half the people speak english and half speak czech!

  • Lauren {StylizedExistence} says:

    Oh and… I've got a couple of (prague!) suggestions for you if you want, let me know!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Ladies, our household is officially envious that y'all lived in Prague. That is a favorite daydream in these parts.

    Meagan, thanks for the phrases! I'm not a beer drinker either, but I'm definitely going to indulge in pilsner… when in Rome…

    Lauren, yes! Any and all suggestions are welcome — and much appreciated. Can't wait to visit CF Praha.

  • Ehsa says:

    Prague blog away! Have never been there, but am fascinated so will be interested in everything you have to say!

    Re Berlin: You might find Philip Kerr's "Berlin Noir" trilogy featuring Bernie Gunther in pre-WW II Berlin a good read. The writing in book 1 ("March Violets") is a bit amateurish, but stick with it. The plot saves it, and by books 2 and 3 Kerr must have finished his "How to Write Good 101" class.

    Thrilled to the Wenceslas Square audio! And if you get a chance, I'd really like to know how to pronounce "Thursday" in Czech. (Saw it on the Crossfit Praha website schedule … am equally ridiculously excited to hear about your CF Praha experience!)

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Ehsa! Thanks foe the reco on the books; I'm going to Amazon right now to find a used copy!

    Here's Thursday in Czech (good luck!):

  • Lydia says:

    Safe and beautiful travels! I'm so excited for you!