Diaries of an Expat: Rediscovery

Diaries of an Expat: Rediscovery

After months of having very little time or energy to give exploring the full attention it deserves, I decided to take a trip with my good friend, Ivana, to her hometown of Třeboň. Her hometown is actually a much smaller town next to Třeboň (which I’ll never be able to remember the name of), but we made our way around much of the region over the course of a delightful long weekend. Now that I’ve been living in Prague for nearly a year, I find myself too content to just sit in the city, or my apartment for that matter, instead of exploring all of the beautiful and historic places surrounding me. I guess that’s what having a full time job does for you, right? Well, no longer! My new Fall Resolution (which will henceforth be a thing) is to continuing exploring, trying new things, meeting new people, and truly taking advantage of all that this place in my life has to offer.  Because the Czech Republic is too incredible to ignore any longer.
Now that this grandiose statement has been made, the weekend:
On Friday, Ivana and I drove deep into Bohemia with two of our friends, Rita and Lukaš. Once we arrived at Ivana’s sister’s house, our homestay for the next few days, we all made our way to actual Třeboň to have dinner. We decided to treat ourselves to a wonderful meal at a restaurant whose name translates to “White Unicorn Restaurant”, and given that things are cheaper outside of Prague, it was a truly excellent meal without a terrifying sticker price. I even had a dessert, translated to “chocolate mass”, which was actually a chocolate blob with homemade ice cream- the best thing about going on holiday! Afterward, we grabbed a drink at a local bar where everyone seemed to know Ivana- it was really nice.
The next day, Ivana, Rita, and I made our way to a local castle, which was much different than I expected for whatever reason. The whole area around the castle was magical, it was so lovely to be out in the woods and park surrounded by incredibly beautiful architecture.
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Afterwards, we wandered to České Budějovice to have a cup of coffee and grocery shop for our dinner. We grilled meat and veggies on a raclette grill and played Cards Against Humanity, aided by a few bottles of wine. Nights like these really make me feel like I’ve been able to make a life here- it all felt so normal and comfortable, and I realize how truly lucky I am to have these people in my life.
On Sunday, Rita and Lukaš left for Prague, so Ivana and I took the opportunity to explore Třeboň by daylight. I was so pleasantly surprised by this town! In the daylight, the colors of the buildings absolutely glow, and the atmosphere is just that of a small European village- people are friendly and there is just enough to see and do. We started our adventure by walking through the castle grounds, past the local brewery, to the lake. I’m sorry, pond. Well, you see, the definition of this body of water is up for debate because, as you can see from the photos, it’s a lake. Unless you ask Ivana. Anyway, we walked around the lake and enjoyed some autumn sunshine before stumbling upon a small winery which was selling the local delicacy of Burčak. This is a drink which can only be sold from August through November, and is the young form of local wines. It’s very sweet (as the sugar hasn’t had time to ferment yet), and very delicious.
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We decided to forgo the mid-day wine festival (complete with an outdated and poorly translated Czech DJ), and continue walking around the lake. On our way, we noticed a tourist train coming around the bend on the dirt path along the water. This train is not an actual train, but one you might find at a zoo meant for moving people from one attraction to the next. We moved over to given the train room, and the next thing we know, we’ve been been hit full-force by the little engine that could. The only way I knew how I was one minute standing and the next minute sprawled across the dirt path was from the crunching sound I heart as the front end of the train hit both of our backs. The conductor said that he’d swerved to miss a child on a bike, and hit us instead. How sweet. Fortunately, aside from some sore muscles and bruised egos, it was a no harm no foul situation. Still hilarious, and still made me wonder how my life has not yet been turned into a sitcom. Anyway, after our near brush with death (or a chilly September swim), we continued along our way, a bit more slowly, as Ivana had been talking about a crypt that we could visit. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I don’t think it was this:
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It felt like we’d stumbled across Snow White’s chapel in the middle of the forest along one of the most beautiful lakes I’d ever seen. Saying this is a crypt does the structure a huge disservice, because even if it really is a crypt, it’s also a magical little spot in the forest of Třeboň. We wandered inside and admired the chapel, and then made our way back to the town, careful to avoid any more rogue tourist trains.
Back in Třeboň, we grabbed a cup of coffee, wrote out some postcards, and then took a climb up a tower in the city center to get a view of the rooftops. The climb up was certainly worth it, as the rooftops and surrounding nature of this town were breathtaking. Or I was out of breath from the climb. Regardless, I loved every minute (shout out to Ivana who made the climb despite a sore back and fear of heights- this girl is the best, ladies and gentleman).
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Once down from the tower, we made our way out of town, grabbed some dinner and a bottle of wine, and spent the evening drinking that wine while watching Eat, Pray, Love and painting our nails.
I had the best time this weekend, and I’m so glad that I decided to come despite how tired and grumpy I’ve been recently. Finding a work-life balance is tough, particularly when you’ve established your life around your work. And I love my work. I love my work so much, and I am so glad I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to international education. But I also need to practice what I preach, and this excursion into Bohemia was exactly that- a much needed and thoroughly enjoyable weekend with some of the best people I know.

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