What a beautiful spring we are having this year! Unlike other years where it’s been like winter winter winter SUMMER and maybe one week of spring temperatures, we’ve really seen spring this year. April has been full of warm days and sun, trickling into May, even though we’re in a couple days of a cold snap right now (a good excuse to sit down and write something), I have really been enjoying it (ughhh, I probably say this every year, so here it is). I just actually learned about the days May 12-14 here called the “days of the ice men” (Ledoví muži). This is because those days are the days of Pankrác, Servác and Bonifác on the name calendar and in olden times in Central Europe, one could expect a bought of frosty cold wintery weather (I’m still learning new Czech things!). How funny that it actually came true this year — 2020 is an odd one, for sure.
Our restrictions here in the Czech Republic have very much loosened since my last update post. Even at our “lockiest” lockdown, we were still allowed unfettered outdoor access (which my Easter post attests to, clearly) provided we are wearing our masks, and I’ve been so thankful for that. In late April, it was announced that meeting in groups of ten or less is now allowed again, although the conditions were extremely unclear and apparently up for interpretation. With masks? Without? Outdoors? Indoors? Because of this loosening, I can no longer say that I am in self-isolation anymore, having met with small groups of friends and planning on teaching some in-person group courses next week, but I certainly don’t feel like it’s time to go nuts. You know me. I’m a reasonable individual. It’ll all be a slow ramping up and I’m not in any rush nor do I think everything needs to go back to normal yet.
Farmers’ markets have thankfully resumed, and using our outdated verbiage, have been “bumpin'”. You should have seen my straw bag that first Saturday they were open! So many vegetables, honey (ohh I needed honey) and especially, plants for my garden. At the new Žižkárna farmer’s market, we’ve enjoyed buying local beer, cartons of ice cream from our favorite, Zmrzli, and gifts for birthdays and the like.
Speaking of birthdays, I saw this tweet the other day…
psssssst you’re probably gonna celebrate your birthday in quarantine, yes even you— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) May 12, 2020
In early April we were really deep in the beginning of quarantine here, so it was a good thing Alex normally likes to celebrate his birthday at home! Friends kindly had cake and coffee delivered to our house (which was so delicious!) and later we went out for a stroll in the unseasonably warm weather, got pizzas to go and watched a Miyazaki film (Princess Mononoke, if you’re curious). It was a really nice day!
Mine was just last week and fortunately the restrictions have eased up a bit since then. My big day just missed the cut-off of restaurants, cafes and pubs opening (with outdoor seating only), cinemas, salons and most other non-essential businesses are now open again. But that’s okay — I was pretty bent on having a birthday picnic somewhere beautiful. My birthday requirements are stringent, but doable: gifts (okay, gotta be honest), spending a large part of the day somewhere beautiful, good company, excellent food and maybe most importantly: doing something out of the ordinary that day.
Really, it turned out to be wonderful. I sobbed pretty much uncontrollably after opening some beautiful, incredibly thoughtful gifts, took a walk to pick up slices of birthday cake and cappuccinos to go (and of course, had them on the balcony). We had sushi delivered and took it to nearby Hluboká so we could plop down in front of the castle, high on a hill in a meadow full of buttercups. We drank cans of kombucha and cocktails from M&S and enjoyed the view, the sun and wandering around the grounds before coming home to a game of Mario Party (birthday gift) and a live streaming concert from Mammút, just the kind of spooky note I wanted the day to go out on.
It was an absolutely dreamy day! I am so thankful for the people in my life and magical weather.
As far as the big question of travel is concerned, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts. I recently read this (flawed, yet thought-provoking) article, titled “American travelers are about to be pariahs in this new world“. Some of the language and wording they used was a bit silly and dramatic, but it touched on the interesting theme of “Corona Corridors” — pockets of countries deciding to team up together for this summer travel season to open their borders to each other for the sake of those sweet, sweet tourism Euros. I predicted something like this when I shared my thoughts on travel during covid times on the blog Land of Marvels recently, and I rather think these corridors are a very good idea (vs. opening borders without restrictions).
Right now, Slovakia, Croatia and Austria are all being thrown around as possible corridor-buddies with the Czech Republic. Maybe this year won’t be as bad as we all thought it would? What do you think?
That being said, in one of the last waves of restriction-loosening, coming on May 25th, everything except borders will essentially be open again here, including hotels (per the management’s decision whether to re-open or not). I am tentatively planning on my first hotel stay of the year (since it all hit the fan) to celebrate our upcoming wedding anniversary, but I don’t feel comfortable leaving our peaceful South Bohemia yet, where cases are lowest in the country. This stay will be probably be within a thirty minute train ride from us — stay tuned.
I hope you all are keeping well and the situation is stabilizing, better yet, that you can find some peace and respite. I wish you a happy springtime.