it feels cliché to start with “it’s been a year for the books”, but it’s true. 2018 has been my favorite year abroad since 2012, the year we started our adventure and moved to the czech republic.
i touched on a few reasons why i thought that in a previous post but it’s mostly due to progress: progress with feeling at home here and building a life, huge progress in communication and language learning, and some of the best trips and memories to date. i feel like this is the year that living here, despite the trials we’ve gone through, has really clicked for us. all things coming together and making us feel extremely fortunate to be living this life.
but let’s get to the year that was….
the winter of 2018 was slow, cold and really dreary this year! i adore south bohemia for it’s relatively sunny climate, but it was a veritable seattle winter for most of january. i had a string of trip-related mishaps:
we went to a spa in třeboň, and i didn’t blow-dry my hair in a sub zero day and nearly didn’t make it home due to the cold. alex had to drag me to the nearest mcdonalds to get some hot chocolate fuel so i could walk ten minutes home. who knew ten minutes could feel like ten miles? (lesson: always blow-dry your hair after the pool)
we went to brno in early march and i mangled my finger on the ride over and caught a terrible cold! but i really discovered how beautiful brno is and i at least got to have one moravian beer and plenty of delicious coffee before we left…. (lesson: make sure your razor has the cover on it securely before stowing!) many people here in budejovice seem to have brno connections, but of course, i’m only just receiving these tips after i have returned. there will be a future visit!
in late february, the temps got down so low that the rivers and ponds froze over (for the second time since i’ve lived here, to my delight) and i skated with ferdie all over the vltava.
in a stroke of luck that ended up combating the dark and winter lonelies, alex and i joined our friends in taking dance lessons from february to may. i can not think of a more fun way to spend a cold winter’s weeknight than moving around, learning how to jive and cha-cha to a polka-ed out version of lady gaga’s paparazzi. it was simply the best. not only did we learn how to dance, but that whole experience made me realize i can participate in czech language activities here.
we headed to prague for a luxurious weekend getaway around st. patrick’s day in mid-march – checking in at the nicholas hotel and suites and doing some early birthday shopping for alex. it was still certifiably winter as a blanket of snow fell that night, and there was simply no better place to be but in the heart of malá strana, wandering around mostecká
street in the early morning with the dog. snowy prague is my favorite prague.
in another winter travel fail, we scrapped a city trip for easter to head for the hills…. in late march. i have a personal rule that if easter falls earlier, we’ll take a city trip, if it’s later, we’ll head for the countryside on a hiking trip. never defy your own personal rule, whatever it may be! our hiking trip was so cold and snowy – that’s what happens when you get up in the hills, right? but we made the best of another quiet trip to šumava (bohemian forest national park) and had some delicious easter food in a series of cozy village pubs with the locals.
as soon as april hit, spring was immediately upon us! bare feet, toes in the grass, early april bliss. river trips, windowsill gardening, and balcony hangs. i started an herbalism course (which i am still working towards finishing my certificate for the first four months of 2019!) and began attending a whole crop of herbalism workshops with my new herbie homies. my interest in this topic has been slowly building for a couple of years and i couldn’t take it any longer! also, i had missed studying, surprisingly. will try to write a little post about this in 2019, probably upon my course’s completion when i’m not such a herbal newbie.
as soon as i got word that there was to be a four-day weekend over my birthday in early may, we sprung to book a room at chateau mcely – my dream place to spend a birthday. delicious food, beautiful gardens, spas, saunas, enchanted forest strolls, and my first swim of the year! chateau mcely is an absolute five star experience about one hour north of prague. it was a memorable way to celebrate, before coming back to budejovice and swilling a couple drinks with some friends.
june brought the typical shenanigans and end of the year celebrations and then everything ground to a halt the very day we were to fly out to the south of france for our vacation – the dreaded letter from immigration giving us a certain amount of days to, basically, “get our shit together”. a really great letter to read the day you’re about to fly out for ten days.
we did the only thing we could: enjoy the heck out of that vacation to provence (and only spend one or two mornings frantically on message boards or on the phone to visa professionals in prague). i had spent the past six months planning that trip so i was about to enjoy it or else. believe it or not, we fully put that out of our minds almost the whole time we were in france – spending one week at a cottage in the drome provençale region (northern provence) and a couple days at the coast near marseilles! the world cup was going on as well, and with france doing spectacularly well (and going on to win the championship), it was fun to get swept up in football fever.
10/10, would do a vacation like this again! it was my travel goal of the year to take a vacation and not a trip for the first time since our honeymoon in greece. i think i can get behind this sort of travel… perhaps my backpacking days are over?
july brought summer camp & a fair bit of stress – by the end of the month, i desperately needed a change of scenery for my own health. we had planned to spend august in berlin, but our legal future here was looking so up in the air, so what did we do? go to berlin anyway. although of course i enjoy the rest of the year, august is the month we live for, as teachers. as soon as we left for 3+ weeks away and stationed ourselves in berlin, i immediately felt a stress lift.
alex worked on writing a new project at our little flat in prenzlauer berg, and i enrolled in a three week intensive german course. it was an incredible summer in berlin and all i can say is, three weeks of intensive language courses work! i was dreaming in german by the third week and i came back to budejovice a new woman! everything is improved. all was completely worth it.
in september, i furiously continued studying german like a madwoman, baked a load, and joined a choir! in october, i amped up my czech studies and started my school year in full force again, and popped over to both prague and třeboň for a dose of autumn magic. it was a beautiful autumn season, this year… but then again, when is it not?
at the beginning of november, we flew to reykjavik to meet my family for iceland airwaves – a dream i have had for almost ten years. this trip was indescribable: to be in one of my favorite places with all my favorite people at the festival i had dreamed of for so long? how can i begin? we were mostly in reykjavik but had some time to venture out and see some sights such as videy island, the golden circle and a dip in the delightful fontana spa at laugarvatn. i never wanted it to end!
so here we are, back at the very end of december – we made a short festive day trip to linz, austria which we hadn’t visited for over five years, despite it being so near.
the most popular posts this year were….
10 reasons why i (still!) live in the czech republic – so now you know why.
are we budweisers yet? 30 ways you know you’re from south bohemia
my favorite three posts were…
spring prague staycation – a luxurious weekend getaway!
goodbye to winter – the rivers froze over (again!) and such a beautiful weekend was had
the berlin week post trilogy – each post paints such a picture of the emotions & events of being in my favorite city
i also wrote about my anxiety, the phenomenon of getting lost (and how it changes of the years), why exactly i can never stop thinking about iceland, and how to travel with your dog. i also posted two recipes! (wild garlic pesto + my favorite summer breakfast: roasted plum cardamom oatmeal)
what will 2019 bring?
i hope that that beginning of the year will bring us good visa news, above all else! and good health, of course.
as far as travels, we’ve already got a few trips lined up: back to linz in about a month’s time and london (!!) for a weekend in april – both trips for concerts, actually. i’m so ready to experience a new season in a very new part of the city and to get to know a bit of london besides all the typical sights… and i haven’t properly been in the UK for over six years. oh my.
there is a moravian destination that has been on our list (i’m not calling it “czech list”, okay?) here within the country for awhile and i hope we get over that direction – perhaps sometime in the early half of the year.
it’s also our intention to spend half of the summer in the united states in 2019: visiting our home states (WA & MI) and – i hope – a few other places somewhere along the way. there are no weddings announced yet so i feel like we might be home free to use the time as we wish and go where we want. i do hope for a nice long washington summer! two weeks was much too short, last time.
thanks again for your readership and following along this year on this journey with me. although my posts in 2018 have averaged only about once per week, you’ve stuck by me while i’ve transitioned more from #expatlife/being a foreigner stuff to more thoughts, musings, recipes, and just daily life in the czech republic stuff. as i grow in this journey abroad, i think that my blog sort of evolves along with me. and that’s cool by me.
i wish you the happiest new year and much health and happiness in 2019. or as we say here, “PF 2019″.