Daily Life in Prague {Czech Republic}

Although I’ve felt comfortable in Prague right from the start, it’s definitely been full of its head-scratching, stressful, can’t-help-but-laugh moments.

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+ Going to the grocery store is at once a fun and challenging task (not too unlike it was in the States). I love seeing all of the different food and throwing some random items into the cart that I can’t wait to try. I don’t love trying to decipher what things are, how much they cost, or what other ingredients they require. Being surrounded by Czech makes my head hurt! Every task becomes much harder than it ever was–I almost bought a giant block of curd the other day when I was looking for cream cheese. I don’t think it was those delicious cheese curds you get a cheese factories, either.

IMG_5948^^we discovered Jaffa cakes, which are apparently a big thing all over Europe. They’re delicious and probably so bad for you.

IMG_6398^^in the bread section of our giant Tesco (a big supermarket chain). This is definitely my favorite section! Besides ice cream.

+ Speaking of food, our lack of appliances is starting to get to me. I don’t have a blender, a crockpot, a toaster or a rice cooker, and apparently I need those things to make a decent meal. (Also we only have one pan, one pot and one cookie sheet…). We are really trying to keep it simple here, so I am thinking I can maybe buy one of these things. The question is…which one? I would love a crockpot for the rainy days ahead, but how can we not have a toaster? Or make smoothies?…it’s a difficult conundrum. Also…if you have any simple, one-pot/pan meals, let me know! I need them!!

+ Now that I’ve finally figured out the transit system, it’s fairly easy to use. However, it still can seem like a maze since I don’t know the routes very well. Usually, I’m at a tram stop and realize it doesn’t go where I want it to, so I decide to take the metro (subway). Then of course when I get down there, I realize it doesn’t go where I want to go, either! Then begins the convoluted task of figuring out connections and all that jazz. Although I’m finally figuring out the map, I still don’t have an OpenCard, or a transit pass. Mostly because it’s a pain-in-the-butt process full of red tape (come on, Prague!), but paying for individual tickets is getting expensive. So I guess I’ll haul down to the office with my passport and the promise to name my first-born baby after the Czech president next week and get ‘er done.

+ This is something many of you Americans will need to get used to, also, as I hear it’s starting to become a law in states–bags at the grocery store. If you don’t bring your own, you have to pay for one. Which isn’t a huge deal as they are approximately seven cents, but still. Luckily one of my friends gave me the perfect bag before we left the States (thanks, Kris!!!) which has been a lifesaver. There have been several times, though, where we got carried away and had to buy a bag or two (side eye IKEA).

+ Oh, IKEA! What once was a fun place of wonder in Denver (usually because we weren’t actually buying anything but those weirdly delicious meatballs) was a four-hour black hole. Turns out, when everything is translated from Swedish to Czech, it will be hard to figure out what it is. Who would’ve thought? I expected a fun adventure out of the city, and instead we came back and slept for about twelve hours. We had trouble finding our way around the store, and when we finally found everything we needed to buy, we realized that we didn’t know lots of important things, like measurements. Specifically, of our bed. They don’t use King, Queen, or Double here (or at least not that I could figure out)–they use centimeters. I was also convinced I would be able to find a pillow for stomach sleepers there, just like I had found in Denver–but I don’t think that exists over here. Or, it does, and the saleslady just had no idea what we were talking about (which is just as likely). Despite all of this, IKEA counts as a win–we found almost everything we needed, we ate meatballs, and we successfully got it all delivered to the right address! And our sheets fit (mostly).

+ Doing laundry has become an adventurous task, as well, especially as our machine is in Czech or strange pictures. E found a manual of sorts online, but it hasn’t helped us figure out why we tend to get the “ERROR” message every other time, or it refuses to drain, or it refuses to use our soap. We did figure out what some of the numbers and symbols mean–but that doesn’t seem to help us make the thing work! I am thrilled that we even HAVE a washing machine in our little flat (no dryer–which is pretty standard around here), but not so thrilled that it doesn’t like us back.

IMG_6399^^the bottom one is time, and the top number is spin cycles. What the time turner demonstrates, I’m still unsure. IMG_6400^^the mystery of the washing machine. we’ve decided that the flower means cotton, and the feather is for a delicate load…otherwise, our brows are furrowed.

+ A few notes on style: Red lipstick is everywhere here. I really want to jump on this trend (and have for years). Any ideas on a good, inexpensive color? I tried one on today that made me look as white as a sheet…I don’t think that’s quite the look I want. Also, I’m strongly regretting the fact that I didn’t bring any good, tall boots with me (besides my bright orange, fur-lined rain boots). Part of this is because, besides said rain boots, my only waterproof shoes are black flats, which don’t exactly provide warmth. I need to pull the plug and buy some, I think…but I am cringing at the shoe prices here! I’ve found some deals, but I have a feeling they may not be waterproof…ugh.

+ I found a Starbucks and a Pumpkin Spice Latte! How cliché, I know. I had so much coffee during school/work in the U.S. and was obsessed, but I only have it a few times a week here (who am I?). I drink much more tea (again, who AM I?). But with fall exploding on Instagram, and the fall-like weather we’ve (mostly) been having here, I couldn’t resist a little taste of pumpkin (and at $5 for a small, it will be my last for a while). Right after, we found pumpkins at a farmer’s market, so I think it was a good omen. Yay for fall!

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Linking up for the #SundayTraveler

Ratanakiri Province {Cambodia}

Happy Travel Tuesday!

I am currently in the mountains of the Czech Republic, working at an English camp, so I grabbed one of my first posts from the archives for you. Four years ago now, my cousin and I went on a giant graduation trip to Southeast Asia. We visited South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in a whirlwind 2 months. This post is from a rural area of Cambodia we visited on a whim.

Enjoy, and I’ll see you next week!

Travel Tuesday

When most people think of Cambodia, they think of Angkor Wat, which IS amazing and should certainly not be missed. However, during my sojourn to Southeast Asia with my cousin, we found ourselves burnt out after the temples of Angkor. Although I found Cambodia to be beautiful and exotic, as one of the poorest countries in the world, the poverty, land-mind victims and mournful children can be hard on the heart (as a fellow traveler on the road said).

So, after the bustle of Siem Reap (the city near Angkor Wat), we traveled to Ratanakiri Province, located in the rural Northeast of the country. While very impoverished, it was so beautiful–we saw waterfalls, elephants, mountains and crater lakes, all marred by the Red Dust of the Ratanakiri (which permanently stained most of my clothes and my backpack, so take heed). It was here that we were able to rent our very own motorcycle. Although I never drove (I can barely handle my mountain bike) it was an exciting way to see the countryside, and the perfect reminder to keep looking for the beauty even when traveling takes its toll.

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Each week Bonnie, Jessi, Camila and I choose one post from the previous link-up to feature. Be sure to check out their blogs to see who they chose!

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This week I am featuring Tina from Girl Meets Globe and her post about her anniversary trip to Portugal! I love finding new destinations through Travel Tuesday, and I’m so happy Tina posted about Portugal. Portugal doesn’t get a lot of press, but I think it is starting to, and from Tina’s post, this press is well-deserved! The views are breathtaking and the architecture is so unique. Thank you for sharing, Tina!

Ready to link up?

1. SHARE a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!

2. GRAB the lovely button above. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie, Amy, Jessi and Camila in a link! 3. LINK-UP goes live every Tuesday at 0800 GMT. Make sure to comment here, on the co-hosts blogs, and visit around!

TIPS:

1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future link-ups!

2. The last Tuesday of every month will be a themed prompt if you want to join in!

3. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!



Boating in Český Krumlov {Czech Republic}

This past weekend was our first getaway from Prague into the countryside of the Czech Republic. We chose Cesky Krumlov, which turned out to be the perfect weekend spot.

Cesky Krumlov is simply adorable and even though I forgot my “real” camera (for shame!) I filled my phone (and E’s!) with a plethora of pictures from the medieval city.

(And don’t worry…I will almost share them all!).

We arrived Friday night and immediately collapsed into our little “riverside cottage” that was straight out of a Tolkien novel.

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The next, after sleeping in a bit (we needed it, although I normally do not recommend this on weekend trips–but the Black Lung refuses to go away, so we gots to sleep!), we immediately set out to finally see the town.

We’d walked about half a block before we were waylaid by a rafting/boating shop. I’d heard that a highly recommended activity in Cesky Krumlov was to raft/canoe down the Vlatava River (the same river that runs through Prague) to a nearby abbey. We saw the shop and thought we would check out prices, planning to actually go boating either later that day or the next.

“Do you want to go now?” The shop owner asked after some basic questions.

“Well we were going to eat first…” We were hesitant.

“Eat here.” He pulled out a brochure of a riverside pub, and we were sold.

Immediately we went down a steep, narrow alleyway to the river and hopped into the waiting raft/canoe.

(I’m not sure what to call it–but it was reminiscent of an inflatable canoe).

I loved this spontaneity as usually I have every trip planned out. In this case, a little more  planning might have been nice because this was not just the leisurely trip down the river I had imagined. There were small rapids and we got soaked!

Luckily it was a gorgeous day, and they’d given us a dry bag when we hopped in the boat (why this wasn’t a clue to how wet we would get, I don’t know).

Despite a more wild ride than anticipated, I was immediately enchanted. We got into the river just before the big bend that reaches Cesky Krumlov, so our first daylight (and non-misty) views of the town were from the water. We could see the ancient castle, the riverside buildings, a canal, and several churches, not to mention the slanted cobblestone streets. I risked the wet and snatched a few pictures in a non-rapid area of the river.

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Not too long after leaving town, we were suddenly in the wilderness, or so it seemed. Thick forest surrounded the river, and there wasn’t another boat near us. Despite the occasional riverside pub, we didn’t see another soul for miles. I was not expecting this but the peacefulness was so needed after our hectic month in Prague.

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The river started to get a little busier as we neared the riverside pub our guide had recommended to us. We even saw some locals searching for mushrooms, or “mushrooming,” which is apparently a popular Czech pastime in the warm months.

(As far as I can tell, it involves searching the forest for edible mushrooms! We saw some people with serious baskets or buckets, but one old man with his dog filling his hat. It sounds really fun, maybe someday I will be invited to go…).

We arrived at the pub and after a mishap trying to land (where one of us got really soaked), we climbed up into what turned out to be a Czech campground, complete with beer, sausages, a variety of drinks, and even goulash!

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We were eventually able to snag a spot by the campfire, drink some beers (or rum and tea, for those of us freezing ones) and share a sausage. Everything was delicious, as it always is after you work for it! We made some Czech friends by the fire (that we later saw cruising the river with a bachelor party, on a boat that included a grill and a blow-up doll) and eventually took off for the abbey.

I didn’t enjoy the second half of the trip as much as I had the first, so by the time we arrived at the abbey I was ready to get out of the boat and since our ride was waiting (we made an arrangement with the raft company for a ride back, since I hear it’s difficult to get a canoe upriver), we only saw the abbey from afar. Still, it was a lovely, spontaneous trip through the Czech forest, and I can’t wait to get back to Cesky Krumlov and explore more!

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Stay tuned for more Cesky Krumlov!

Welcome to Travel Tuesday!

Travel Tuesday

Each week BonnieJessiCamila and I choose one post from the previous link-up to feature. Be sure to check out their blogs to see who they chose!

This week I am featuring Clem and Marcella from What a Wonderful World and Marcella’s post about The Lavaux Valley in Switzerland. Switzerland always holds a special place in my heart, and I love learning about places to visit there that I haven’t yet! This beautiful visit was all because of a spontaneous wine tasting, and what better travel story is there than that?  Thanks for sharing, Marcella and Clem! Be sure to visit their post to check it out.

Ready to link up? 

1. SHARE a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!

2. GRAB the lovely button above. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie, Amy, Jessi and Camila in a link! 3. LINK-UP goes live every Tuesday at 0800 GMT. Make sure to comment here, on the co-hosts blogs, and visit around!

TIPS:

1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future link-ups!

2. The last Tuesday of every month will be a themed prompt if you want to join in!

3. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!