About four months in now, and overall really liking it here. The weather has been ridiculously nice lately, so been doing lots of walking, exploring, and hanging in parks. There's an outdoor street market a few blocks from our place and I go probably 3 times a week to grab a coffee or some homemade lasagna and occasionally buy some herbs for our little herb garden (AREN'T WE PRECIOUS!?!?)
My dad came to visit a few weeks ago, which was nice because our lame-asses don't have any friends here yet 🤓 and we needed someone else to go do stuff with. Honestly, we've been laughing about how we've never had to "make friends" before because we've been flat sharing and living in hostels for the past few years so it's always just kinda... happened? I guess it doesn't help that I'm still unemployed 😬 (I can explain...).
So, yeah, my dad was here, and we did some bar hopping, ate at some nice places, and went on the infamous Taste of Prague food tour, which is absolutely worth every penny if you can swing it -- they've got 98% 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor for a reason. I think my dad quite liked it here, as he's planning on coming back in November for Thanksgiving.
A few weekends ago we took a day trip to Karlstejn, which is a little town outside of Prague with the most fairy-tale-esque castle I've ever seen. The town itself is extremely touristy, full of tacky little shops selling Pokemon plushies and colorful wigs (why?) which is a bit lame, but I guess that's just the state of tourism now and if it makes money then whatever.
So I'm still unemployed, so day-to-day life is pretty uneventful, and I can't really do anything too exciting because one needs money to do fun things. My life is basically hanging in the cat cafe down the street with my laptop, fighting for Photoshop and digital design gigs on freelance platforms, and submitting job applications. I'm hoping to find something soon because, as much as I love the cats, this is getting pretty old.
I haven't talked much about Prague itself, so I'll brief you:
Communism & The Rolling Stones
Prague is a super old city with loads of history -- dating back to the 9th century -- and it wasn't too long ago that they were under communist rule (it became a democracy in 1989). During the communist era, the Czechoslovak people didn't really know what was going on in the West culture-wise, and it wasn't until the 90s they began to discover what they had missed. A lot of Western music was banned in the country, so people had to listen to bootlegged recordings and foreign radio broadcasts to keep up with what was happening on the outside.
One of the coolest stories I've heard is that the newly-instated democratic president in 1990 wanted to enlighten everyone on Western music, so he invited the Rolling Stones to come perform. They came and performed for free for an audience of over 107,000 people in the middle of the city center. After the fact, the president became friends with the Stones, and in 1995 they paid to have their lighting designer come install $35,000 worth of lights around Prague Castle. SO, the reason the castle is lit so beautifully is thanks to the Rolling Stones.
The Music Scene
Ska/punk music is en vogue at the moment, almost like the movement that happened in the U.S. back in the late 90s/early 2000s took a decade and a half to make it over here -- I think the music scene is still trying to catch up.
One thing that I find quite nice is that a lot of the electronic/EDM tripe hasn't really made its way over here yet. I mean, if you look hard enough you can find it, but it's not as prominent as in the States, thank god. Yeah, I'm a h8er*, sorry not sorry.
*I didn't really like it to begin with, but I lost a ton of respect for the movement after watching Noisey Las Vegas.
The people of Prague really care about the aesthetic of their city; the architecture is just gorgeous and it's been preserved very well, which is rare for a country that was under both communist rule and Nazi occupation.
The best word I can come up with to describe Czech people is 'pleasant', in the best possible way. This is the most peaceful city I've ever been to; you don't encounter any hostility and people generally just go about their business, but are very polite when approached. There are a lot of American tourists that complain about the "lack of smiles", which I find pretty dumb -- people generally just seem more genuine to me.
The Food & Beer
There is a wide selection of every type of food imaginable, especially in our neighborhood (Zizkov), and Prague is known for its food culture in general. There's a popular breakfast place here called Cafe Savoy that makes a mean omelette and has a really cool Neo-Renaissance ceiling -- I love it because I'm basic and I love brunch (tip: if you want to go on a Saturday or Sunday, call a week ahead of time to make reservations; we learned this the hard way).
George and I are big fans of this restaurant attached to a music venue called Palac Akropolis. It's like 2 blocks from our place and has fantastic food for super cheap; you can get a nice grilled fish with herb butter or a creamy gnocchi dish for like $5. It's full of locals who hang there before and after seeing a show at the venue in the basement.
In terms of traditional Czech food: it's pretty heavy on the meat (which I have given up once again) and carbs and lacking veg -- lots of sausage, roast pork, schnitzel, and fried cheese. Goulash and potato pancakes are staples along with their version of dumplings: slices of a log of steamed dough. Beef tartare is another classic that Czechs loved to snack on with their beer, which brings me to the beer: the thing this place is probably most famous for. The Czechs invented pilsner, the first light colored beer ever brewed, back in 1842. These people take their beer drinking very seriously -- the Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. I wish I could comment more on the beer itself but I am unfortunately not a massive beer fan so I don't really know my stuff, but I will say that people over here drink it like it's goddamn water. In fact, ordering water in a restaurant is a dead giveaway that you're a tourist.
What happened to Czechoslovakia?
It dissolved and split into two countries in 1993: Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It was a relatively peaceful split and you can read more about it here if you're interested.
Now that I've written a novel, I'll wrap it up. Question for you guys though: If you're a regular reader of Expat Americana (sup Mom and Dad), I'm curious: What sort of stuff do you like reading on here? Constructive criticism welcome! I don't want to bore you to tears.