• Christmas,  Daily Life,  South Bohemia,  Winter

    A Time of Simple Holidays

    Well, it’s hard to write anything without a computer, isn’t it? Fortunately I feel like I have an office again, a little home again, and my brain can sort of organize itself properly. (Note: Try to avoid ever having to purchase a new computer in mid-December. It is not the time.) Here we are in December, finally at the tail end of 2020. Funny about this year. As I’ve now been quite settled in České Budějovice for nearly eight years and counting, there isn’t a lot of expat stuff or cultural differences that I feel compelled to write about. Most of it is no longer so novel. Add to that…

  • Christmas,  Daily Life,  Thoughts,  Winter

    Grieving/Healing

    Perhaps it’s yesterday’s full moon bringing all of these ripe feelings to the surface, but the turn towards Advent time hasn’t been an easy one this year – an odd, uncomfortable feeling towards something that has always felt warm, comforting and joyful. I am still grieving and feeling so many heavy things, mostly a bit different of what I choose to show on the outside, but today, the first of December, I can feel the healing begin. I woke up and tiptoed to the kitchen where I saw a marvelous pink and purple sunrise, welcoming in this new month. As I went out with the dog, the sky was doing…

  • Bad Ischl
    Austria,  Budějovice,  Christmas,  TravelTips,  Winter

    An Austrian Alpine Holiday

    As it’s the last weekend of the holiday season, so a perfect opportunity to share a little bit about 2019’s holiday season and our Christmas spent in the Salzkammergut. Before we left, we had a nice relaxing weekend wrapping up the work year and taking in some tunes and last punches in our beautiful square. On our way home from doing some Saturday morning errands, I noticed a tree in the park near our house full of fruits and things tied on with a sign. (Below, with the message “Christmas tree for homeless people – Have a beautiful Christmas”) I love when whimsy and kindness intersect and to see this…

  • Austria,  Christmas,  czech culture,  Life Abroad,  Thoughts,  Winter

    This Festive Season

    Sometimes people ask me if I’m going back to the States for Christmas and the answer always seems to be… no. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply enjoy being back in my hometown for the holidays, away from the big city bustle. Every year when we would get on that on-ramp away from Seattle, there was something incredibly peaceful about driving north on I-5 and watching the sprawl slip away. Driving around the island on Christmas Day, Sufjan Stevens‘ album always playing on the car stereo. The white skies, tall evergreens, the sea. Again, I have to use the word peaceful, but a certain, specific peace only this kind of…

  • Austria,  Christmas,  Travel,  Winter

    Salzburg

    when my mom bought plane tickets to come visit and i was brainstorming of a great place to go with the three of us, it didn’t take long to think: SALZBURG! a city whose beauty rivals that of paris? palaces, fortresses, and gardens against the backdrop of the alps? yes, yes yes! this is the kind of place that i thought would be perfect right after the holidays. and it only takes three and a half hours to get to from budejovice. 3.5 HRS. people, this is blowing my mind that i can get to somewhere this cool in such a short amount of time. oh, europe! it’s incredible how…

  • Christmas,  Czech Republic,  Expat Life,  Milestones,  South Bohemia,  Winter

    Christmas + A Big Surprise

    veselé vánoce, friends! my second czech christmas is technically still underway (as people traditionally get the 24th-26th off work) and it’s magical. this year my mother has joined us from far away washington state and we’ve been doing a whole lot of wandering the cobblestoney budějovice city streets, last chance advent markets, and of course: eating a TON of food (i may have gone overboard with grocery shopping, perhaps to make up for what is now known as our poor czech christmas last year) and a lot of relaxing before our trip to salzburg tomorrow. and, oh yeah……. i got engaged! alex and i have had a few chats about marriage before, both…

  • Austria,  Christmas,  Daily Life,  Life Abroad,  Travel,  Winter

    A Surprise Vienna

    last friday morning, my landlord, martin (who lives in the flat below me) knocked on my door, inquiring whether or not we were free to join a day-trip to vienna the next day, as there were two free seats in his van. ….so, that was a no-brainer. české budějovice is fascinatingly only a two and a half hour drive from vienna and the idea of going there only for the day was blowing my mind! as in: i live somewhere where i can visit vienna. for the day. and then come home and go to sleep. so began what seemed like two days worth of sights packed into one, waking up…

  • Christmas,  czech culture,  Czech Republic,  Life Abroad,  South Bohemia,  Winter

    A Word on Christmas

    i’m now approaching my second christmas abroad here in the czech republic. for me, being away from home for christmas isn’t such a big deal since i’m from quite a small family anyway, and a christmas of two or three people feels normal. of course i really think quite fondly about christmases spent at home on fidalgo island and how lovely the christmas season is back in the city streets of downtown seattle or the polar bear plunge at golden gardens and i know i’ll have more to look forward to in the future. honestly, how i celebrate the holidays abroad really isn’t so different from back home in WA–…

  • Christmas,  czech culture,  Daily Life,  Life Abroad,  South Bohemia,  Winter

    Jindřichův Hradec (or as we call it, Henry Castle)

    i haven’t even begun to write and i’m getting distracted by czech kids singing “we wish you a merry christmas”, echoing in the hallway. adorable. CHRISTMAS IS COMING, PEOPLE! HOOBOY! it shows in the amount of lessons i’ve been having lately (ehhh…. 10 out of the normal 15 per week) because of cancellations galore. but that’s alright since it gives me ample time to do what’s important in life, like bake cookies! make homemade decorations! write this blog post! cook dinner! and visit the town square, which is an absolute hot-spot of yuletide activity right now. i can’t walk by it without wanting a glorious vanoci punč– the aroma always…

  • Budějovice,  Christmas,  czech culture,  Life Abroad,  Winter

    St. Mikuláš Eve

    st. mikuláš (nicholas) eve, celebrated on the evening of the fifth of december in many european countries, is nice, but a holiday i don’t yet quite understand. we have nothing like it in the U.S. i asked a czech friend, “so it’s like santa visiting?” to which she replied, “no, we have that on the 24th when jezizek visits”. so basically, it’s a freebie christmas holiday. chalk up another reason why celebrating the holidays is wonderful in europe. i know in germany, st. nikolaus visits and puts fruit, sweets, nuts, and other treats in the shoes of good children. well, here in czech republic, it’s a bit different! the fifth…