DAY 1Apr 28 2017
Popped to Paris for a quick birthday surprise before continuing to Prague.
So great to see the parents. We ate our weight in Michelin stars and I rolled my way on over to the airport.
DAY 2Apr 29 2017
As I'm flying into Prague I'm grateful for a few hours of space and reflection before rejoining my Kai-razy Krew, who have been sending me texts, slack messages, and Snapchats of their charter flight shenanigans.
Seeing the parents again, especially fairly early into the trip, reminded me of my goals heading into Remote Year. So much is changing in such a short amount of time and without the periodic grounding I can see myself flying through the next 11 months and coming out lost on the other side.
Flipping through photos from the last month, reflecting on the things I've seen, the people I've met, the grueling days and hazy nights, and comparing that to hearing about what all is happening at home got me to scrolling a little further back through my photos and texts to my life in New York; my network, my former job, my apartment. And as wonderful as it was to connect with family, and as important it is to keep the relationships at home strong despite the distance, in comparing the before to the after I'm not sure how I'll ever be able to go back to my old life. It's early, I know, but maybe I've found the home I've been searching for without ever having an address.
Maybe home is, as they say, where the heart is, and my heart is on this plane, preparing for a new adventure in a new city with new people, laughing to myself about the things that have passed and smiling in anticipation of the things to come.
Starting my decent into Praha. I'm ready.
DAY 4May 01 2017
Prague is beautiful and so different from Split. The city is large, cosmopolitan, and distinctly European. I thought, based on my vague recollection from being here 17 years ago, that it would be small and manageable, but everywhere I turn there's a restaurant I want to try or a festival happening or another museum, beergarden, park, or church to explore. I also thought the food would be heavy and fried, so I've been surprised at the number of brooklyn style coffee shops, vegan restaurants, and Indian, and Vietnamese food places. The restaurant downstairs serves juices, acai bowl, and aloo gobi sandwiches, and the brewery down the street serves zucchini noodles and carrot chowder.
This month the group is a bit spread out throughout the city, and not everyone is walking distance from the workspace or each other. We all got metro passes to help us get around, but the apartments are so large that many are choosing to just work from home. Apparently in Czechia it is not common to have a living room, but instead to have XL sized bedrooms with couches and offices. I got a smaller attic room, but it has it's own bathroom which is clutch in an apartment with 4 girls. Our kitchen is somewhat weirdly shaped, but with all the food options I don't particularly feel like staying home for a single meal.
I will certainly not be one of the people working from home. Our workspace is a former embassy and feels regal. We have a library, a sprawling garden in the back, a yoga room, and a neighboring park. It's on the chilly side, but there are blankets to bring out onto the patio.
Our TRX crew has continued without skipping a beat, but we've swapped the beach parking lot for a national park. It's going to be a good month.
DAY 6May 03 2017
There's nothing to help you get acclimated to a new city like spending 3 hours wandering around trying to find a birthday tiara for your roommate, and along the way discovering that you're living in what is probably the most beautiful city on the planet.
After successfully purchasing the tiara I went to an art studio and made this functional pinhole camera out of a matchbox, coke can, film, and tape. It has a racing stripe on it. It's pretty rad.
And then went, matchbox camera and tiara in tow, to celebrate Dana, said roommate, at what is probably the coolest bar in Prague. It is, as a fellow remote described it, "like a Soviet bunker meets a highway underpass meets an art gallery." There is foosball, hookah, live jazz, a swingset, epic Czech rap battlers, a piano player, a cannabis tea room, and a dog the size of a wolf wandering around. At one point we climbed onto a bunkbed and carved our group name into the ceiling using my travel corkscrew, which, yes, I carry with me everywhere. What a day.
DAY 7May 04 2017
Prague is incredible, but the fact that there is so much happening, and so much to do and see has made it hard to settle into a routine. Living like a local in Split meant running errands, doing groceries, cooking, and directing my cab driver because I know all the roads. In Prague, however, the extent of my "living like a local" has been the possession of an unused unlimited metro card, and a hot yoga class taken entirely in Czech. I feel a bit like I'm running the wrong way on an escalator.
But on days like today when I'm a bit low, there's nothing like having family there to shower you in hugs, chocolate, Thai food, wine, and hours of laughter ❤️.
DAY 10May 07 2017
It's 1:20pm. I have 1:45 brunch reservations across town where there has been a promise of chicken and waffles. As I leave my apartment the balloon on the door from last night's masquerade party bounces behind me. There are a few remotes working downstairs at Summa Cum Laude, and I wave as I pass. I'm tempted, as I walk by the potraviny, to get a bottle of juice, but know that in a few minutes I'll be able to order it fresh. I cross the tram lines to the square at Namesti Miru and stop in front of the cathedral for a photo. I've walked by it 50 times already but never alone and able to appreciate it. I pull out google maps, always turned around in the "square," which is actually a circle, and reorient myself in the direction of brunch. I walk past Zanzibar, last night's stop 3 of 4, and smile at the hazy memories. Walking through the streets I notice that they are nearly empty, likely because of the holiday weekend. The buildings surrounding are all roughly 6 stories, outfitted with regal cast iron balconies and painted in pastel shades of pink and yellow. The route then takes me to the gates of a park with instructions to walk through for half a kilometer. The park path twists through grassy lawns and wooded troves, and dogs run freely off leash. It's grey, but warm. A homeless man sleeps on the grass. An ice cream vendor pushes her cart on a bike. The biergarten gates are still shut, but the staff is busy preparing for the afternoon crowd. I come to the end of the park and am most definitely lost. I find a bus driver and ask for directions in broken Czech. Six minutes up a hill towards the Creepy Baby Tower and the gate appears. The restaurant, Tavern, is visible on the corner. The daily specials are written in chalk on the shutters. I walk downstairs to the basement, a common location for cafes and pubs in Prague, and am greeted with hugs and fresh orange juice by five dusty remotes. I grab a seat on the bench. It's 1:55pm. I'm here.
DAY 11May 08 2017
Having a chronic illness on Remote Year, much like having a chronic illness in general, is not without its ups and downs. You can distract yourself for days and weeks, push yourself to your limits, and pretend it doesn't exist, but then one morning you wake up with a flare up and your body reminds you that you're still the same person, even if you're living in the Czech Republic.
Considering my activity level I'm surprised I lasted six weeks without so much as a hint of pain. Remote work, on a whole, is ideal for the body. If you need to nap in the day, nap. If you need to take a stretch break and actually do stretches as opposed to just walking around the office, pull out a yoga mat and stretch. Eat what's right. Manage your sleep. And if you have to be working or in meetings, at least manage your environment so it's a comfortable setting.
And of course when all else fails, and pain strikes as it always does, continue to take care of yourself. Working remote doesn't mean working 24/7. Sick days can happen even if you're already at home. And that's okay. At least that's what I'm telling myself.
DAY 15May 12 2017
My feeling of being overwhelmed by this city has been replaced, after making a conscious effort to get to know it better, with absolute awe. Everywhere you turn -- local area, tourist area, historical area, run down area -- is beautiful and has a past.
I've been working on czeching things off my bucket list. This week I saw Don Giovanni at the National Marionette Theater, got to wander the botanical gardens with a beekeeper, wear a full bee suit and touch (!!) the bees, got serenaded by an old accordion player at a 16th century beer hall, went wine tasting at a local vineyard, had absinthe at Prague's most famous, multistory steampunk club, took the time to walk into every church I passed, explored the municipal library, went on a successful hunt for the underground Italian restaurant that I visited with the family 17 years ago, walked Charles Bridge at sunset, ate at four of the restaurants that had been recommended to me by friends and colleagues (thanks guys!) and, of course, went to the crazy treehouse bar for the fourth time in a week only to lead the entire back room through a piano accompaniment of American Pie. Here are some pics.
I'm probably moving to Prague in the future. Just FYI.
DAY 17May 14 2017
Woke up at 7am to catch a train to Pilsen for "tracks" day. We cracked our first beers at 9:30am and spent the following 12 hours on brewery visits and tastings. We got to sample unfiltered, unpasteurized beer tapped straight from the barrel which was pretty tasty. 1/3 of all beer is brewed the Pilsner style and they still maintain one of the biggest distribution centers in Europe.
Did you know that hundreds of years ago when cholera was rampant and water was difficult to keep uncontaminated, that beer provided the primary source of the population's hydration and water intake? Fun fact.
Returned to Prague for a Saturday night out, which bled, nearly directly, into Sunday brunch and shenanigans.
DAY 22May 19 2017
Successfully side tripped to Germany! Eight other remotes took the train in a day earlier but I wanted to see the countryside and make some stops along the way, so I rented this horrible green cheapmobile with Daniel and headed up towards the border.
I'm so glad I decided to drive. The countryside is stunning with fields of bright yellow mustard flowers and is littered with castles and churches. We detoured 40 minutes out of the way to spend some time at Koeningsburg Fortress, which was massive and ancient and the only fortress to never be taken in this part of Europe.
Stopped in Dresden for lunch and brews at a biergarten on the river and cruised up the audoban at 175 km/h to Berlin, with an hour break to take an interview off the highway. Living that digital life.
I was able to meet up with Alex after a few years, who graciously agreed to host me, and had an awesome evening catching up and beer hall hopping.
DAY 23May 20 2017
The next day we headed to the Berlin Wall Memorial and had a somber morning learning the history and walking through the city to the Brandenburg gates. Berlin feels industrial and heavy and hasn't quite shaken the weight of its past. Alex told me about a word, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which amounts to 'the struggle to overcome the atrocities of one's past.' Overcome is a key word to me, because there's not an ounce of denial in this city. Their history happened, and they own it, and they are doing their best to move on. You can tell, though, that a new generation is emerging, because it is also trendy and modern.
Afterwards we rented bikes and rode 20 km west to the Nazi spy post, which is currently piles of WW2 rubbish and decaying towers atop a hill. Tired after the ride, annoyed for having to pay an entrance fee to see what was described to us as garbage, and with no expectations, we were shocked to hike up and find the massive remains of the outpost covered by the most incredible, politically-charged graffiti we'd ever seen. We spent three hours taking it in, and I could have easily spent three more. Here are some highlights:
And as no side trip would be complete without experiencing some nightlife, we rounded it out with another 6am night, club hopping around the city with the rest of the RY clan. We got rejected from Berghain, the best club in the world, because you're supposed to look and act grunge and Daniel is physically incapable of not smiling.
DAY 24May 21 2017
Headed back to Prague after brunch and some flea market browsing, and once again, felt like I was coming home. The streets and sights and language and food have become familiar, I can navigate the metro, follow my Czech yoga classes, and am starting to feel settled. I guess that means it's almost time for Lisbon :)
DAY 30May 27 2017
Month two down! Prague roundup:
Average breakfast: Muesli from the workspace or an acai bowl from Summa Cumme Laude
Lunch: Catered from the chef at the workspace or a soup/sandwich from a cafe depending where I'm working
Dinner: Some kind of Asian food; pho, sushi, ramen
Drink of choice: Beer. So much beer. Brewed the Pilsner style, available cheaper than water, with the occasional cider interlude when I was feeling full.
Theme song: Anything sung along to Matt on the piano, whenever we found a piano. Most commonly 'Don't stop believing' at train stations and bars.
Most money spent on: Cabs in Berlin (that Euro creeps up on you).
Apartment highlights: Private bathroom! But overall rarely used. Spent most of my waking time at the Milesovska apartments where the other half of Kaizen lived.
Workspace highlights: Regal, beautiful lawns, close to home, an extremely talented private chef and self service wine bottles leading to many late night work turned chill sessions.
On the locals: Reserved and closed. Poor restaurant service. Large Vietnamese influence. All about PDA.
On the krew: Solidly a family. Subgroups formed. I've learned about people's siblings, past relationships, and goals, and know mostly everyone's birthday.
Packing adjustments: Added a nice black dress for the masquerade ball, a $2 80s prom dress for our farewell party, a Kaizen hoodie, some journals, and a set of foldable, silicone wine glasses. Shed two weekender bags, the 80s prom dress, the horrible striped hoodie from Dubrovnik, and most of my sweaters in preparation for 90 degree weather in Lisbon.
General feeling: Emerged from the low early in the month and feeling adjusted. Completely smitten with Prague. Five pounds heavier from second lunches and dinners in order to eat at all the places I wanted to try. Reflective after the last week of heavy WWII history.
Top five meals:
5. Broccoli cream tagliatelle - La Bottega Gastronomica
4. Gazpacho - K10 workspace chef
3. Fried camambert with poached pear - SchillerGarten (Dresden)
2. Nutella Trdlnik - Old Town Square
1. Banana tofu soup - Sushi Tamada
Love you, Prague. I'll be back, and for much longer next time.