Continuing the tradition of taking a month every year to live somewhere else, Kelly, A. and I have just returned from a wonderful month in Prague, Czech Republic.
It's just long enough to transition away from full-on tourist mode and get to know a place a little bit more from a local point of view. Immersing ourselves in a new landscape is also a great way to get perspective on the world and the rest of our lives - what we value, what we miss, what we want more or less of and how we might make that happen.
This year's trip was different in a few ways. Our last three have all been in the U.S. so we were excited to again be overseas and where we didn't know the language. It was also very new to do this kind of trip with our 11-month-old daughter. We wanted to challenge ourselves in these ways and while it was hard at times, overall it was a really fun and amazing experience.
Why Prague? It wasn't a decision we spent a lot of time on. Neither Kelly nor I had been before. We knew a number of people who had spent time there and really enjoyed it. We knew it was a bit different from other parts of Europe where we'd traveled. We knew it was relatively inexpensive. We wanted a place that would have enough "modern conveniences" so that we weren't too far outside our comfort zones on a first big trip with A., but that was different enough from our daily lives to be noticeable and meaningful. Once we started researching flights and apartments, things came together pretty quickly after that.
What we encountered was a beautiful city full of history, culture, kindness and fun. We explored parks, rivers, museums, churches, castles, memorials, libraries, towers, markets, gardens, restaurants, concerts, squares, shops and other attractions. Our Airbnb apartment was perfect for our needs, in a walkable neighborhood with plenty to do, and in a location that put us steps away from Prague's impressive and far-reaching public transportation system to get to the rest of the city. At every turn we found thriving public spaces that welcomed and encouraged being out and about with children. When we were ready to be out of the city we rented cars and wandered through the Czech countryside into small towns with their own stories to tell.
For me it was a working trip, taking full advantage of my company's distributed nature and the ability to work from anywhere there's a good Internet connection.
My team actually benefitted a bit from having me 6 hours ahead of my normal schedule as I was able to be more responsive to our European clients and get some other things cleared out before my colleagues were even awake. I worked some from our apartment but also found a great co-working space a short walk away, and so spent several days a week there being around other people doing tech/screen things.
Sometimes I would take extended mid-day breaks to join Kelly and A. in their explorations and then finish up my day after A.'s bedtime. I reached a new level of appreciation for the flexibility and world travel possibilities that my job offers - thank you, Automattic.
I was definitely nervous about how A. would handle this kind of experience, but it turns out she's quite the world traveler. Delta accommodated us with a bulkhead-mounted bassinet on the longer flights, so she was able to get some sleep along the way. It took a few days for her sleep schedule to adjust fully but then she was fine. Our Airbnb host kindly brought a big basket of age-appropriate toys over soon after we arrived, and we picked up a few other things from local toy stores. When we went out she happily sang and talked as her stroller bounced along the cobblestone streets or cruised along on a tram. She made friends everywhere she went, charming even the most gruff looking strangers. She was patient and interested as we walked through museum exhibits. And with some child care help from a friend in town, we were able to get a few date nights to explore on our own. We're so proud of her.
Some of the sights we saw included Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Letná Park and Beer Garden, Museum of Communism, National Technical Museum, Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Žižkov Television Tower, Franz Kafka Museum, Jewish Museum, Petřín Hill Tram, Tower and Observatory, Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden, St. Vitus Cathedral, Opera at the Estates Theatre, Classical Concert at St. Nicholas Church, John Lennon Wall, Naplavka and much more.
When we left town by train or rental car, we saw the memorial at Terezín, the village at Holašovice, Karlštejn Castle, Tábor, Třeboň, Český Krumlov and more.
In a month's time we had a lot of different food experiences. We gave authentic Czech food our best shot and enjoyed a lot of it, but also found ourselves really enjoying the many vegetarian, Indian, Pakistani and Italian restaurants that are spread throughout the city and region. It seems like there are some neat things happening in Prague's food scene.
You can see more of my photos from the trip. I may also do a geekier follow-up post on all of the gear and gadgets involved in our adventures.
Thank you, Prague!