Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prague Spring

Historically, the Prague Spring was an attempt to grant civil liberties and a loosening of restrictions in Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia in 1968 (as one might imagine, not well-received by Mother Russia & led to the invasion of the nation by troops set about halting these reforms, thus kicking off an era of "normalization"... but that's enough history for one day, folks).

In 2012, Prague Spring means crazy weather, visitors galore, umpteen castle tours (even some I wasn't leading, hurrah!), zany traditions, more hills than I care to count, horrible work schedules, doing work (Grope would be so proud), frozen men, and general running amok. It has been glorious.

Since we ran through the streets of Budapest, drunk on spring break excitement (and breakfast wine), it's been nonstop. Steph finally arrived, and we kicked things off appropriately enough by playing flip cup for hours, getting kicked out of a [herna] bar (the shammmme), crying on the sidewalk, and me falling down. It's nice to know that some things never change!

Pre flipcup, enjoying the lovely views from Letna beer garden. 
This is where the problem began...

Steve arrived two days later and many sausages and beers later, I wished them well on their road trip through Germany and Austria and prayed they'd make it halfway there before Steve veered their car into a ditch on purpose. From the sounds of things, it was a bit of a close call! 

They came back the next weekend and were treated to absolutely gorgeous weather, and so commenced the second part of Laura's Little Tour Company trips around Prague (seriously - fall back plan.), which included strolling around Vysehrad and then huffing and puffing (well, me and Steph were huffing and puffing) up Petrin Hill towards the castle. Steph flew home the next day, and Steve and I tagged along with HS on what we were told would be a "nice walk in the nature".

Nice walks in the countryside clearly mean different things to Americans and Czechs. This is probably largely due to the fact that as a whole, Americans don't really walk. Ever. Czechs, on the other hand, seem to approach every athletic diversion with the gusto of an Olympian. This is why I'm always gobsmacked when my students tell me that they had a nice relaxing weekend with a 90km bike ride thrown in, or cross country skied halfway to Bratislava. This is a fact I forgot, and so it was that Steve and I geared up and headed out to the hills of Cesky Raj (Czech Paradise). 

I think it's fairly obvious that I am not what one would call outdoorsy. In fact, this basically sums up my attitude to nature:

But I'm also game for anything, and despite all of my grumbling and panting and fears of impending death by falling off a boulder and the fact that on more than one occasion HS had to propel me up inclines by pushing my ass (not that I'm complaining, but I feel like in general, was not at my most attractive that day - sweaty, covered in dirt from scooting down hills on my butt, and covered in mud from...?... I'm not sure), it was awesome. Cesky Raj is stunning - just look:

Ten miles later, we were back in Prague and I was popping Aleve in the hopes of fending off impending muscle debilitation. Aleve and beer. Lots of beer.

Steve left on Labour Day, which we have off and were lucky enough to be blessed with more perfect weather. Joined HS for a lazy (comparatively) day at the Botanical Gardens, enjoying a nice bottle of wine and lounging in the sun and walking around the river. I think it may have possibly been the most enjoyable, most relaxing day I've had in ages and ages. Ahhhhhh.

The following weekend, HS & I set off for Cesky Krumlov, the "Venice of the Czech Republic". I cannot even tell you how absolutely in love with this little town I am - it is adorable and charming and gorgeous and perfect.

We also went to Rozmberk, which is a little village a few kilometers away and also precious. Did a castle tour, which is really enjoyable when it's not the same castle for the 230498398 time and you're not actually leading the tour (just kidding, I love all my visitors!).

Had another day off, this time to commemorate Victory in Europe Day (woot woooot) and spent it traipsing around Divoka Sarka and eventually winding up back at the botanical gardens (I cannot resist their wine). It's around this point that I'm sure you are starting to realize, like I was, that days spent with HS are rarely lazy. Would like to imagine that this will make me terribly skinny just in time for bikini season, but people keep bringing me chocolate, and well, I'm not exactly known for my willpower, am I?

Jennica and Cole arrived for a whirlwind weekend in which we managed to cram in all of the major Prague sights, a nice at the beer garden, a nice dancing at Retro until sunrise and more ham and sausages than necessary (Aha! Perhaps it's all the Czech food, thanks to all my American visitors, and not yummy chocolate. Take this as a sign that it's acceptable to continue eating chocolate as much as I want because will not be having Czech diet constantly anymore. Though am about to go home to the US, so don't think that's much better...) before getting them back on a plane and getting myself to bed. Exhausting weekend, but it was great to have them here!

Sadly, no more days off, so last week felt terribly long, but finally got to the zoo on Saturday and it was awesome! So well done - am in love with the gorillas. The entire thing is incredibly well put together and nicely laid out and it was a lot of fun, though could have done without the bats. That was more than I needed to deal with in the pitch black tunnel surrounded by strangers and kids with sticky fingers and god knows what else. Eeeeek.

Speaking of children with sticky fingers, Sunday was our Children's Day and Benefit Concert for the Pink Crocodile. The weather was beautiful and we had great turnouts. Am happy to say that have "mastered" enough Czech to piece together a conversation with a three year old and left covered in paint and spit and marker, but totally happy. The Pink Crocodile is an amazing organization here in the Czech Republic that works to provide care and education for special needs children here and in India. You can find out more on their website by clicking here.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have lots of sleep to catch up on!

No comments:

Post a Comment