Once upon a time... Dave and I moved to Prague and yesterday, our word nerd dreams came true: We completed our applications, handed over 60...Read More
Our First Year In Prague: Part One
We arrived in Prague on April 14, 2017 and tomorrow is our 1-year anniversary of moving into our apartment here in our neighborhood of Nové Město. We’ve had so many adventures this year, I’ve had to break it up into multiple posts. Won’t you join me for a romp through our first year of memories?!
Once Upon A Time…
Dave and I got it into our heads that we should live in Prague. It took years of planning and work and not a little bit of worry, but we finally made it happen.
These are the boxes—32 in all–and this is after purging all of our stuff. We sold, donated, and gave away all of our kitchen stuff except essentials, clothing, books, and our car. Then we drove the boxes to Boston, handed them over to a warehouse, and—fingers crossed so hard—hoped they would be safe on their ship-board voyage across the Atlantic. Happy ending: everything arrived in May, safe and sound.
At the airport in Boston! Those suitcases are what we brought with us, and the bag I’m clutching holds Smudge, who was not as happy as we were about the adventures to come. That pink blanket is my totally shitty-but-I-love-it-anyway airport blanket. I bought it in another airport in 2012 on the way to Costa Rica. That was at the beginning of another adventure: I’d just quit my full-time job to focus on cookbooks and blogging. Maybe I should call it my adventure blanket?
The arrival in Prague is a bit of a blur. We were picked up by Jan from Move To Prague, the awesome relocation company that helped us get settled and has held our hand through every step of getting our visas, paying our taxes, managing health insurance and bank accounts, and more. They’re like a super helpful best friend. Once we were settled, we went to Cafe Savoy where I had my first official steak tartare and frites.
This still sums up how I feel about our move to Prague. This particular joyous photo was taken on an after-dinner walk in mid-April. Here’s a recap of our first few weeks in our new home. (What you can’t see in the happy pictures is the day I threw a temper tantrum because I was burning EVERYTHING I COOKED on our electric stove. It wasn’t just the stove that caused the tears—some parts of this big move were hard. But I learned, and it all got better.)
Ah, Čarodějnice! Witch’s Night! My favorite Czech holiday because a) I can wear my witch’s hat; b) I can stop pretending I’m not really a witch every day; and c) it’s the day before my birthday, so if I stay up late enough, it merges into birthday celebration. You can read all about Witch’s Night 2017 here.
May 1: My 49th birthday. (That’s right; my big 5-0 is coming in a few weeks. Deep, relaxing breaths, everyone.) In Czechia, May 1 is called Labor Day and is a public holiday. But more important than that, it’s also Love Day. A Czech Romantic poet named Karel Hynek Macha composed the epic poem Maj in the 19th century. It’s a love story that begins:
It was late evening, on the first of May,
The eve of May was the time of love.
The turtle-dove’s voice called to love,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
According to tradition, on May 1, a girl should be kissed under a cherry blossom so she will stay beautiful all year round. In Prague, people go to Petřín Hill and visit the statue of Karel Hynek Macha. This photo of Dave and I is from Petřín Hill, and yes, I got a kiss.
We spent (and still spend) a lot of time sitting on the náplavka to watch the people, the ducks, the swans, the nutria, and the sunsets.
Later in May, our dear friend James came for a short visit. We ate All The Things, saw a circus, and visited an exhibit of works by Czech artist Adolf Born at the wonderful Kampa Museum. (If you visit Prague, see what’s on at the Kampa; they have really great exhibits.) This piece is called Sensational Circus Act with a Tomcat (Senzační Artistické Čislo s Kocourem), and I love it a ridiculous amount. All of Born’s work has this whimsical, magical quality, and his illustrated books are just beautiful.
Then we went to Warsaw to apply for our 1-year visa! That was… a lot. I wrote about it in great detail in this blog post. So much paperwork! A scary interview! Confusion and doubt! But, again, happy ending: We were approved quickly and settled in for the year.
Then our friend Tillie arrived! It was fun 24/7. We rented a swan boat!
Pedaling was more work than I expected, but the views from the river were enchanting.
This is the view from the end of our block. I am spoiled rotten and grateful every day.
After a long walk from the castle to Petřín Hill, we got lost in the mirror maze. So much silly fun.
The first two weeks of June were devoured by our intensive Czech class: 5 days per week, 4 hours per day. It was a LOT, but as you can see from our faces on the last day of class, it was also a lot of fun. We’ve continued with private lessons with our teacher Silvie, and we even managed to read a super-duper beginner story book. Now we’re tackling children’s books. I can almost speak Czech as well as a 5-year-old. You can read all about my adventures in Czech class here.
We really felt at home when we got our library cards for the Municipal Library of Prague. There’s a decent English-language section, and Dave’s been checking out fun books from the children’s section for us to practice reading. Read more about our visit to the library here.
There is a lot of great live music and theater here, and in the same week, we saw the Foo Fighters at the O2 Arena, and…
… the stage version of Amadeus in the Prague Estates Theater, the very same theater where Mozart conducted the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni. At the end of the play, the actor who played Mozart stood next to a plaque on the floor and explained that that spot is where Mozart stood to conduct. I burst into tears.
Prague is known for being a magical, unpredictable place. In mid-June, an octopus mysteriously appeared in the Vltava River…
And then it was the Summer Solstice. On June 21, the sun set almost directly on Prague Castle. It seemed to touch the main tower of St. Vitus Cathedral, then it lit up the chamber which houses the crown jewels (!) and continued past the altar bell tower to set behind the roof. Just when it seemed the light show was over, the sun reappeared and set again on the roof of the nearby All Saints Church. Read all about our Solstice experience here.
Summer in Prague means two edible things: zmrzlina (ice cream) and domací limonady (homemade lemonade). The lemonade comes in all kinds of flavors: lemon and orange, wild berry, cucumber, pear and ginger. It’s the perfect cool-down on a hot day.