Saturday, October 29, 2011

So What If The Tram Smells?

Czech's love transparent curtains. They especially love lacy transparent curtains that do nothing to insulate or add attractiveness to a room, but hey, the influence of Mother Russia times are still strong and I guess old habits die hard. 

Enough to get me off the warm tram!
So why did I wake up at 8:00 this morning, when I was well within my rights to have a lovely little sleep in  and simply laze around all day? Lacy, transparent curtains, and the bastard sun shining straight through the many tiny white holes. Oh well, I thought, at least the sun is out!

Because autumn is in full swing now, the sun in a rare commodity, and it is a foreign sun to me. It casts long shadows from the moment it rises, and teases everyone while it sits at an odd angle in the sky. It's saying "I know you want me to get above your head, but no way, Jose, I'm going to hang out down here where you feel like the whole day is late afternoon..." But lazy rising sun is better than no sun at all. 

And she beheld THIS!
I walked down to the restaurant where I'm occasionally lending a hand these days to find out my "shift" had been cancelled - no sweat off my back, because at least I was having a lovely walk, but I suddenly found myself awake and with nothing but time to do whatever I pleased. Ah, Saturday.

A tram roared by, the 22, so I gave a little chase and jumped on. Jeez Louise, it was smelly. I was warned about the cold weather and how it drives Prague's unfortunately homeless population onto the trams and into the metro, because they are delightfully heated. I just hope they are delightfully cleaned too, because it was pretty rank. Even so, I managed to ride about 5 stops until I was across the river in Prague 1 and somewhere I didn't recognize. 

Immediate reward: I look up the street and see the most beautiful fall trees I have come across since fall in Italy two years ago. I walk. Statues, beautiful trees, cobblestones, trees, leaves, it simply doesn't end. How is it that I've been here over two months and haven't visited Petrin Hill? 

Unbelievable leaves, believe it!
(I know why I don't go over to the other side of the river very often - because it just feels so foreign to me! Especially not at night, because heck, I don't want to have to freeze my hiney off waiting 30 minutes for a night tram at 2 in the morning. At least if I'm over the river, I can walk.)

The hill itself is steep, which is no problem for me today but I can imagine it being ridiculously slippery once the snow and sleet start coming in. And up, up, up I climbed, with a huge goofy grin on my face, realizing that I hadn't done this sooner because today was the day I was meant to be awed.
When I climbed high enough, WOOF, the day was clear and bright enough to see the whole city - my far away neighborhood and the spires of Namesti Miru and Zizkov Tower, I could see the National Theatre, and Letna Park, and of course, the castle. Everything was covered in a low lying mist. 

At this point I was hungry so I followed the tram tracks back to a 22 stop and merrily smiled all the way home. If only this story had a gory twist to it, but truly, it was just a beautiful fall day, and it deserves to be published. 

Yours truly, getting my Nordic style on.
Happy Halloween, all. (Except Czechs, who think its hilarious to see all the expats trolloping around in costumes.) 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Guessing Game

Home sweet home! I live in a garage!
Sunday is here and it's cold. Winter is coming fast and it is so satisfying to sit inside on my fake couch (made out of a twin bed, of course) and dream my Prague day away.

And hey, I deserve it: I had a busy week! Finally finding my groove - I found an African dance class, a Czech restaurant that lets me come in and work for free (lets me: hee hee hee!) once or twice a week, and a fabulous group of ladies that end up having wonderful things to do during the week. Thursday, I taught a couple of them how to make Chinese dumplings, and let me say, if they had been men, I would have had several marriage proposals. Just tooting my own horn, but baby, I'm really loving the kitchen still. 

Anyway, my favorite recovery for a long weekend of birthday parties and other lovely things is to A: make a giant bowl of garlic spinach, and B: take a walk. It's misty outside and darn cold, but I bought this fabulous giant synthetic sweater at a second hand store and it is just right for misty freezing day walks. My neighborhood is just fabulous for exploration. 

I decided to play a game to emphasize the point that Czech is ridiculously difficult. I'm working on it, slowly but surely, but even walking down the street I often screw up my face at things I'm reading. A big giant "What in the hell could that possibly be?" 

Here are the rules of the game: You cannot use translation to help you, only use your brilliant brain. Then, you must guess what the businesses are that I photographed on my walk down Korunni! Ready? Let's do it!

 Let's start with an easy one! Kavarna...kavarna...what could that possibly be?

Let's get tricky! This store sells exactly what now?

It's not as obvious as you think...they don't sell traffic...

And the last? These are everywhere. 

Write down your guesses and then hold you horses, I'll post the answers in my next blog! (And when will that be, like next month?) 

Possibly, but let's be optimistic!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My First Love Affair

This is a blog with no photos. It is only a story about falling in love in Prague.

Pasha is a wild child who can't sit still and doesn't like to listen. He smiles over his shoulder at me just before he is about to do something ridiculously naughty. "I don't think so." I say to him, as he turns the bathroom tap on and off several times. "Are you kidding me?" is for picking up food off the floor and putting it in his mouth.

My little man comes to school in suspenders sometimes, he loves to play with them and they are an unfortunate distraction. But so handsome. "Yesh, please!" Pasha shouts when I give him more apples. He loves apples. Sometimes he loves them so much, he'll jump into my arms and plant a kiss on my eye, or chin, or ear. Sometimes he throws his shoes at me.

Nap time is especially hairy. Three year olds must sleep, but Pasha thinks he's 35. It was time for an intervention and I came into his nap room with a plan: wrangle him to sleep. He fought. He kicked at me, punched at me, and of course, screamed and cried like I was torturing him French-Algerian style. I held him like I was a swaddling cloth and bit my tongue, letting him go for it.

Thirty minutes later, I felt a head roll onto my shoulder. I looked down at my victory and fell madly in love with the little boy in my lap, his little devil eyelashes finally not fluttering, and listened to him snore his little snores.

I travelled halfway across the world to teach, to live, to learn, and to love. Ticking those boxes, every day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grandma Summer

At last, Grandma Summer is coming to a close. At least, that's what the weather predictions say, and I"m not about to argue with the gloves and scarf I wore last night. But how unusual, how fortunate, that from the moment I stepped off the plane on August 18th, until yesterday, October 7th, the Czech Republic has experienced a belated sunny season that has drawn everyone outside, allowing me to fall in love a little harder.

Everyone knows that the proper term for "long summer heat in the middle of Fall" is "Indian Summer," but let's get real, there aren't many Indians in Europe. (American Indians. There are plenty of real Indians, or else I wouldn't have had delicious eggplant curry last weekend.) Whatever you call it, I experienced it the same.

What do you do in Prague when it's unexpectedly nice? And trust me, no one really expected it.

Wake up and smile.

It's too dark on weekdays to see the sun in the mornings, but on the weekends, there is nothing better than rolling over and looking out the window to see the top of the centuries old buildings across my street, and bright blue sky above them. Doesn't that just set the mood?

Go for a run/walk.

Who can argue with that sky?
Sadly, I think we are nearing the end of the run/walk period with the return of the rain this week, because the sidewalks are old, beautiful, and ridiculously slippery - coaster sized shiny interlocking rocks. I can't wait until the day I bite it when I'm in a hurry, probably wearing heels. The logistics of the run/walk: pick a direction, any direction, and go. Run until you want to stop, walk until you feel lazy, and chances are, I'll see 50 different new things I promise I'll come back to.

Most may be in the shape of pubs...

But I did encounter a super drunk couple at 10AM sitting down on the escalator of the metro and, not realizing they had no intention of ever standing up, I ended up in an escalator doggy pile of pissy Czech's and confused foreigners. Just shake it off, it's Grandma Summer!

Go to the park and read, like everyone else.

I didn't read books in Taiwan because I worked all day and I didn't want to come home and burden my poor brain in my apartment, which was my movie-watching sanctuary. But when it's 70 and sunny, and my favorite park, Riegrovy Sady, has about 10 different views of Prague that would blow your mind, I am drawn like a fly to a buzzing death trap. Almost finished with my second book. The other day, two men with guitars sat near me and I got an incidental serenade. Life is so good, I suppose.

Drink beer, of course, but do it outside.

I'm sad to see the sun go for one big reason: I can't go to beer garden's anymore, or sit in outdoor patios. ANd when we're all driven indoors, that's when the smoker's lung starts to develop, and the smoker's hair, and clothes, and skin. Czech's are about 20 years behind in the fact that smoking is going out of fashion, especially because you can die. And it smells bad. Come on, people. I'm trying to meet gorgeous European men and I smell like an tabacco wildfire.

Sunset - my stairwell.
Thank goodness for Maider Sorasu, who taught me in Spain that the best policy is to immediately remove clothes upon entering home and hang it up away from everything else. And give it a few days. Damn the autumn and my smelly wardrobe.

Watch the sun set from anywhere.

Yes, the sun still sets all year round. But when you can watch it go down while wearing a tanktop and sitting with a group of friends on a hilltop, that's magic.

This being said, I think Fall is going to be an excellent season.