today is new year’s day and it’s time for a recap of last year! it was another great year of being based in southwestern czech republic, feeling like home both here and back in my home country (and realizing that “home” is just a construct), and going to some magical places.
let’s revisit them, shall we? i changed the title of this year’s post to “life & travel” because, as i learned last year, travel isn’t everything and it is also important to capture what else was going on in one’s life. although for this post, it still remains the focal point. (don’t worry) so without further ado….
in january, we had the coldest and snowiest month that i have ever experienced with low low temps that froze over all of the ponds in south bohemia. you know what that meant? checking off my life-long dream to ice skate on a frozen pond! i ended up getting a cold promptly after that day, but it was so worth it. now i am too much of an ice skating elitist to ever skate on anything man-made ever again! (kind of joking, but…)
i also cooked a several course vegetarian dinner for burn’s night! (why? we are hopeless “scot-ophiles” who love any good excuse to drink an islay malt and celebrate the the works of burns on a cold, dark winter’s night) that veggie haggis was definitely worth coming back to this month… ooh, i hope i can remember the recipe. it was actually make-again delicious.
in early february we took the first of what would be many many days in the big city (prague). we brought ferdie for his first ever trip on a train, he stayed with a dog-sitter while we saw the vaclav havel exhibit at dox, and generally had ourselves a perfect holešovice day, trudging through slush to get to our favorite cafes and enjoying brunch near the marina. (did you know holešovice had a marina?) i feel like i know the district quite better now!
we also had a very memorable valentine’s day tea at born in london and i introduced my favorite students to the british tradition of pancake day – what better than a lesson where you’re making pancakes?!
in early march, my mother-in-law came for her first ever trip to europe and we were so excited to travel with her and take her to all the best spots in prague,
český krumlov, and crossing the border into germany to visit bamberg! i had been in bamberg ten years ago during my studies in germany and it just does not disappoint for a low-key trip with excellent food and beer and historical sights. we may have brought two kegs and a few bottles of rauchbier home with us….
april first is always a strange day as the weather is usually quite wacky – sure enough this year it brought our first forays into summer temperatures, if you can believe it. we marked that day by visiting the beautiful
terčino údolí right here in south bohemia – a valley full of blooms, trails, a waterfall, and loads of other cool things to explore. we ate schnitzels while sitting on the terrace of a chateau, because we are in europe. and it was grand.
in mid-april for our long easter weekend, we rode the train into the
šumava mountains to the train station with the highest elevation in the country! there we spent our time in a cozy mountain-style house, hiking and relaxing. we couldn’t believe our little ferdinand walked 22km in one day! i think this trip is when we realized hiking with him (off-leash) is one of our favorite things to do.
glorious may brought beautiful cherry blossoms, garden parties, and outdoor festivals. i spent my birthday in
český krumlov, staying the night there for the first time in over ten years and realizing how magical the town is by night… and how we miss out when we go back home to budejovice before dusk falls! it was brilliant to do all those tourist things like take a coffee in the square, walking around with an ice cream, and doing a bit of shopping in shops i don’t usually even bother to set foot in. with our sweet accommodation south of the center right on the river (above), i truly never wanted to leave.
we spent a nice day in june in prague’s vinohrady and vršovice districts to celebrate our wedding anniversary with the best mexican food in the country and doing all those big city things. sometimes it’s just nicer to avoid old town altogether! (although sometimes i do quite the opposite – there’s a time for everything)
at the very end of the month, we shrugged off the long spring and school year with a night in
– a beautiful town in the hills of northwest czech republic that is well-known for its spas and hosting many a famous guest over the past hundreds of years. we danced to jazz in the colonnade and took a hike the next day in the rain… because when you only have a limited time in a new place, you’re not going to let a little rain dampen your plans!
at the beginning of july, we woke up and found ourselves in karlovy vary again for our fourth film festival. this time we took it way easier than in past years by staying directly in the center of town and felt so extremely spoiled! it was a great festival, albeit a bit cooler in temperature than every other year. when we got back, we stayed for a weekend with friends at a cottage deep in the wilds of sobo (erm, south bohemia) to have a nice rest before summer camp ramped up.
at the end of the month, we bid czechland goodbye and said hello to chicago! what a city – i planned to do so much and ended up doing none of the things i thought i would, but instead discovered a whole new side which ended up being one of our favorite parts of our united states trip.
we were in michigan at the beginning of august visiting family and attending a wedding before flying to portland and staying with my dear friend, megs. i can’t tell you how good it felt to have landed in the northwest after so long! i felt so at home immediately in that airport terminal. we rented a car and took off for central oregon to be based out of bend for the wedding of another dear friend, julie. we floated the deschutes river, visited many local breweries, and just generally enjoyed that central oregon high desert vibe.
the second half of the month was spent back home in washington – i was so pleased to make it to my brother’s birthday party at his new house as well as a family camping trip near mt. baker, much-needed karaoke nights, hikes, and of course, visiting all the beaches and eating seafood whenever possible… i even learned how to shuck an oyster! we enjoyed our time so thoroughly that it was almost as though i forgot i had to leave again…
(but i missed this little guy quite a lot)
the beginning of september was a bit rough going, but there are so many fun things happening right in budejovice that it is hard not to enjoy being in south bohemia. we spent some lovely, lazy afternoons in
český krumlov, our first czech wedding, and then at the end of the month took a "wine vacation” to south moravia – znojmo, to be exact! staying right on the square in a spacious apartment and hiking through
national park to a winery was a highlight, as well as checking off another thing on my “life to-do list”: drinking wine in a vineyard.
we even moseyed on down into austria for a morning (as it was just across the border from znojmo) and hiked up to a famous windmill as well as toured a huge underground wine cellar. it was a beautiful weekend!
the weather was absolutely gorgeous here in october. we popped off to prague to spend time immersed in the beautiful old town as well as stop at some farmer’s markets and get the obligatory annual pumpkin spice latte. we walked to the very end of the street we used to live in (in malá
strana) which leads directly up petřín
hill – a fine time of year for a walk amongst the changing colors of the leaves, clear views, and good weather.
november was about “home” in south bohemia if i had to give it a theme – we focused on home improvement – we got a new couch, as well as other appreciated upgrades and went to two big dinners: our first st. martin’s dinner as well as hosting thanksgiving for the second time.
on the first of december, we found ourselves in prague yet again for a farewell party of the last of our fellow TEFLers still left in the country – i can’t quite believe that we are the last ones still here of our group from five years ago! it was an emotional time but it’s was so good to reconnect with our prague buds. i visited some of the christmas markets there including an attempt to visit old town square, but y’all – the tourist situation is out of control compared to five years ago (when it was still quite heavy). although there is something special about the market there during advent time… i will probably continue to return despite the crowds!
for christmas, as you may have read, we were in southeastern bavaria (near the austrian border) in the heart of the bavarian alps – a fantastic and memorable time.
the top five most popular posts on adventurings this year…
– what i’ve learned about language learning after +4 years– best tips & tricks!
– slow pace or rat race? – reconciling the relaxed south bohemian lifestyle with what i think i “should” be doing
– back from the usa + 10 things i love about home – i was a bit homesick, could you tell?
– the expat’s guide to christmas away from home – so many tried & true tips and ideas here
– musings on identity and being an american – what i’ve made of my national identity after five years away
these happened to also be my favorite posts i have personally written this year. funny, that.
so, where will we go in 2018?
i am so excited that we are planning a real, actual vacation this year! not a trip. just a lay by the pool somewhere beautiful, visit wineries, eat bread and cheese from a local market, hike and bike ride through the beautiful countryside… this is likely going to take us to provence, france. i think a week or so of living the provençal life will be just the thing, and perfect timing after the school year finishes. (time to brush up on my non-existent french!)
i am also pleased to say we’re planning to head to berlin for a month this next summer! it will be the longest consecutive time i’ve spent there for ten years, and i’m looking forward to greatly improving my language study (actually being in the country should sure help!) and finally doing some berlin things i haven’t yet managed in the past decade. ‘tis time.
everything else is up in the air, so we’ll see where the year takes us! i feel oddly optimistic and ready for this new year. how are you feeling about it? where are you headed this year? if you have any provence tips, i am really all ears.
thanks for being around this year! i have loved & appreciated your comments, shares, connecting with you elsewhere, and the fact that you are here reading this right now. happy new year!
this post is part of the january travel link-up.