Our (temporary) apartment in Prague is just off Old Town Square, in a narrow alley with large wooden doors on either end. After midnight, the...Read More
We’re Moving To Prague
Last Saturday, Dave and I bought our one-way tickets from Boston to Prague and reserved a space for Smudge on the plane. It’s official! On April 13, we become expats.
You guys, we are really moving to Prague.
Although this might be surprising news to some of you, this is an adventure that’s been in the works since about 2010. We’d visited Prague and fallen in love with the city and the lifestyle it offers, but I was working at a full-time, corporate job, and we owned a house in Austin. Getting from Texas to Europe in a permanent way seemed like an impossible daydream. But Dave had read The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, and he had ideas.
We spent our Saturday morning breakfasts brainstorming and hoping, and we eventually developed a plan that would allow us to be geographically independent. As we always do when we have a big project to manage, we sat at our dining room table with a roll of kraft paper and drew a timeline of every step in the process (along with questions, fears, hopes, and challenges). The first milestone on the map was to write and release a cookbook; that intention became Well Fed. Within three months of its release, I was able to resign from my full-time job to concentrate on building our business—all with the goal of eventually cutting our ties to one physical location.
By 2013, we’d written and produced Well Fed 2—and we’d visited Prague two more times “just to make sure we really want to move there.” We were ready to pull the trigger and start the moving process when fate intervened. Dave—who’s been devoted to reading comics and understanding comics and wanting to draw comics for the 25 years that I’ve known him—learned about a week-long summer program at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. During the summer of 2014, he spent a week working on comics full time and came home with an intriguing idea: What if we took a two-year detour to Vermont before going to Prague?
Our “move to Prague” plan expanded to include Dave becoming a Master of Cartooning and the production of another new cookbook—Well Fed Weeknights. And now, here, in January of 2017, every step on that original kraft paper map from 2011 has been completed. Now we have a new kraft paper plan with to-do items, questions, fears, hopes, and challenges for the physical move to Prague. We’ve compiled epic lists of furniture to sell, people to visit, questions to answer (Thanks to a blog reader, I know where to find coconut aminos in Prague!), and—most importantly—things we want to do when we get there.
I like to pretend that this statue of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, is personally welcoming us with his kind eyes and benign smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
When I’ve shared little bits of this news on social media, I’ve been asked a few questions over and over:
Will this blog continue with recipes and stories?
Yes! This site will continue on. I’m sure I’ll share recipes inspired by our travels and ingredients readily available in our new home. Dave and I are also talking about collaborating on a new site where we’ll share our European adventures, but it’s still very new, so too soon to talk specifics.
Is Smudge going to Prague, too?
Absolutely. Even though she’s selfish with her love and she loathes spending time in her travel case, Smudge is making the trip with us. We flew with her in the cabin of the plane when we moved from Austin to Vermont, and she was miserable, but after a few days, she forgave us.
There are plenty of practical reasons we chose Prague: It’s a beautiful city that’s centrally located for easy travel to other exciting destinations. The city is served by an awesome public transportation system. It’s still reasonably affordable.
But those facts don’t get to the heart of why we’re moving there. We didn’t really choose Prague so much as we feel drawn there. Some places you visit make you think, “This is fun! I like it here! What an awesome trip!” but it doesn’t feel like home, and you don’t feel compelled to move there. You visit, enjoy it, and happily head home.
Prague wasn’t like that for us. We definitely thought, “This is fun! I like it here! What an awesome trip!” But we also felt something. And the knowledge slowly worked its way into our consciousness: We should live here. Once that emotion flickered, it stuck.
And now I will try to convey why.
I like Prague’s sometime moodiness. The dramatic sculptures, the gothic architecture, the weight of history…
… and the way, if you catch the light just right, beautiful things are also a little threatening.
The Czech Republic is on the list of the best 10 countries for book lovers, and literature is a big part of the culture in Prague. There are fantastic bookstores everywhere, sometimes right next to each other. An antikvariat is where I found my cherished copy of Jane Eyre in Czech, and one afternoon, Dave and I spent two hours browsing the Neo Luxor on Wenceslas Square even though the vast majority of the books aren’t even in English. (That’s also where I held my book signing when Well Fed was published in Czech in 2014.)
This is a photo one of my favorite cafés: Týnská literární kavárna, and one of the reasons why it’s a favorite is in the name. It’s a literary café. I wrote a few blog posts there once, and I can tell you, the atmosphere is just right for thinking and creating.
Prague makes it very easy to pretend that fairytale creatures could easily materialize on a regular weekday afternoon…
… or deep, dark winter evening…
And views like this make me feel like there are helium balloons inside my chest, lifting my heart.
There’s music everywhere. Classical music that floats in the air of an art deco theater or lingers in the rafters of a historic synagogue. Exuberant klezmer music literally has people dancing in the streets, and this band regularly plays jump blues on the Charles Bridge.
When it’s time to eat, there’s the airy Café Savoy…
Most pubs and cafés have my favorite kind of lunch, and I learned on one of our trips that it’s not too hard to shop and cook paleo in Prague.
And when we’re feeling like a treat, Dave always picks honey cake.
And then on April 30, the day before my birthday, it’s Witch’s Night (pálení čarodějnic), a pagan farewell to the spirits of winter. In 2013, we joined the parade that started in Mala Strana. As the drummers and witches danced through the streets, more and more people joined in…
Note the disdain this wee witch had for Dave.
I found this hat at a costume shop in Prague (Karneval Ptákoviny) and brought it back to the US with me—and now it will make the reverse trip in my suitcase again.
The parade of witches culminated in a big bonfire where we danced to a klezmer band, ate sausages, drank beer, and celebrated until midnight when it officially became my birthday. We’re timing our arrival to Prague this year so we’ll be settled in plenty of time for Witch’s Night and our dear friend Tillie will be our first house guest!
Why Prague? I love the cobblestone streets and the stairways that lead to somewhere new, the twisty alleys that make getting lost the best part of a walk, the dragon tails on the benches along the Vltava River, the sprawling parks, and the fact that I’ll probably never be very good at speaking Czech, but I’m going to give it my best shot. And mostly, I love Prague because it makes me feel like this: