Munich: Land of Rain and Baguette Sandwiches

(Rain: please stop!)

Oh Munich, how I wished I 1) could see more of you and 2) had really good protective rain gear for myself and my camera gear. Shortly after arriving in Munich I realized two things:

  1. It’s much cooler here than Prague. (Apparently nobody told Prague we had transitioned to fall temps.)
  2. It had rained and the dark clouds “hinted” at more rain to come.

At one point, I thought I’d give it a go and trek outside, only to be quickly caught in rain I didn’t want to walk around in. So I came back to hostel (3 minutes away from the train station BTW) to do some stuff online and read. I ventured again last night, sans camera gear hoping maybe the rain would hold out for a little walk. I made it about as far as Marionplatz when I found myself frustrated with getting wet, also without umbrella and knowledge that the rain would go away or come down harder. The rest of my night was spent reading a book and writing (in that super secret journal.)

I woke up today to the sound of moderately heavy rain – and some incredibly loud snoring, which also greeted me throughout the night. The joys of hostels and room sharing, right? Hopes dashed for the walking tour, I did some more reading and went out for a couple hours this afternoon. Though still greeted by some rain, it was mostly of the drizzle variety. Part of it came while I walked through the English Gardens. It’s huge, twice as big as Central Park according to them. I’m sure I only saw a sliver of the whole thing, but what I saw was beautiful and well kept.

Appetite is there, only because the headaches tell me I need to eat 🙂 Not knowing yet if anything will reignite the events of early last week, I’m keeping diet to things I can quickly recognize. It’s a good thing I like bread/preztels and sandwiches, because that’s what I’ve been having for meals in Munich. They satisfy well enough aren’t making me ill anyway.

Tomorrow early afternoon I hit the trains for Zurich, where I’ll spend one night, then likely another on my way back to Munich. I’d be happy for better weather, but Sunday and Monday aren’t looking good, if we’re to believe weather.com.

From Prague to Munich and Beyond

My time in Prague is winding down as I wait for this illness to fully subside. My diet of crackers, bread, and pretzels the last day and a half has been nothing short of dry and a little salty. Admittedly, being told to hold back on certain food and drinks is one way to stretch the old budget, I guess. Yet I feel as though I’m being held back from the cultural experiences of a location when you can’t sample food.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Munich, where I will spend 2 nights before heading off to Switzerland for 5 nights, then back to Munich for a night before coming back to Prague for the final days of my sabbatical. I certainly hope there are enough English speaking people where I’m going because my German is pretty much non-existent! While I still know amazingly little about the Czech language, I’ve grown accustomed to reading the signs for public transit and hearing certain words here and there. It’s a comfortable lack of knowledge I now have.

I know many of you are hoping for more pictures and I continue to be lazy in picking some good ones out for you. I blame it on being sick, so there. Don’t worry, there’s stuff to share and you’ll get to see them.

I’m halfway through this trip. Two weeks ago today I was finalizing my packing and heading to the airport to embark on this journey. It’s too early to say whether or not I’ve changed. As I’ve been reflecting in my super-secret for my eyes only journal, I’m not sure that I’ll know how I’ve changed or what I’ve learned until long after I’m back. And that’s OK by me. In a world that demands instant in-depth analysis of everything that happens, taking time to figure myself and my experiences out is something I’m completely fine with doing. Take that, world.

The next hostel in Munich promises to be amazing and is listed as the cleanest place in the world. (Perhaps this is an exaggeration.) Oh, and for those curious where I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time this past week, It’s a place called the Czech Inn. No, the pun was not lost on me. I’ll post again from Germany, possibly with photos from the train, assuming I have a window seat.

Having a Case of the Mondays – Wednesday Edition

2 days later and I’m still feeling effects of whatever it was that hit me on Monday afternoon. The fever returned Monday night as I tried to sleep. On top of that, I’ve been having some mild stomach/GI cramps, among other challenges. Sadly, my appetite is all but gone for now. Today I visited a doctor here in Prague. No bacterial or viral infection, but they did give me some stuff to make my stomach feel better. That, and my diet needs to consist of bland foods and lots of water. Oh, and I need to rest a lot for the next 1-2 days.

So, I guess I’ll be taking it REAL easy until I leave for Munich. Go figure this 2nd week in Prague would turn out so differently from the first week. Looks like I’ll have time to do a lot of reading and going through more photos. I’ll post some stuff later today.

Having a Case of the Mondays

Today was just an off day all around. Woke up late, started slowly. Had lunch at a local Chinese place (less than $5 total FTW!). Then found some park to read and journal. This is when it all went downhill. The combination of salty Chinese fast food, not enough water, sitting in the direct sunlight for about an hour, and walking around did a number on me. Achy body, start of a headache, etc. So I got a couple bottles of water and downed one pretty quickly. When I got back to the hostel, I felt a fever coming on!

Thankfully, I had a first aid kit with some meds with me (thanks REI!). After more water and some rest out of direct sunlight, I feel much better. But it’s been one of those days where it was tough to focus on anything. Odd. So no fun pictures to share with this post, just an update on me.

So what’s in store for tomorrow? Who knows during the day. A couple staying in the same hostel room have invited me to go salsa dancing tomorrow night! I think I may just take them up on that offer to join. I’ve always heard Prague’s salsa scene was hot, just like my fever was today.

The Signs of Fall in Prague

I’ve wandered through parks and continue to just watch the locals do their thing. I like getting the perspective of the “other side” of life here, the part that isn’t all about the activity in the city center and main attractions. Enjoy the walk through the pictures. Each one will be followed by its name as if found in an art gallery.

Dogs playing in the park.

Mother with child and puppy.

Golden framing.

For want of a balloon.

Catching some rays before nightfall.

I see you.

Untitled.

(I love sunsets.)

Sabbatical Spotlight: Observations in Stillness

As I continue to traverse Prague and its historic streets and buildings, I can’t help but feel everything just slowing down. But it’s more of the pace that’s slowing down. What I need to do every day is less as I’ve already seen a lot of the major sites, today finishing up my exploration of the buildings that make up Prague Castle (3 of the 5 locations didn’t allow pictures without a “license”, which was really just a way to get more money from tourists.)

I do have to share that this week I also had the chance to go to a Chinese restaurant in the area (may go again tonight!). Cheaper than back home (I think $4US for the food), fast, and decently tasty. I must say, I felt very complete to eat Chinese food in the Czech Republic. (Note for those who don’t know: I’m 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 Czech.)

Here’s a couple random pics on life in Prague.

Ah, Pilsner Urquell. Available just about everywhere and consumed by just about everybody who visits Prague, probably including kids. They do make a lovely pairing to most any meal, especially at less than $2US for a o,5L glass.

Ah, Super Hearts. The bag of heart shaped fried something with images of super big salt piles to keep that super heart pumping super hard.

Caught walking through Old Town Square around sunset. Pretty, isn’t it? I foresee this turning into a big print one day…

Now, for some random thoughts and observations:

  • I love cities that are built around walking and (cheap!) public transit as primary modes of transportation. That being said, I’m also quite happy that I haven’t been in a car since my ride to the airport last week.
  • People seem to enjoy life here. They walk at a decent clip, but not in a Chicago or NYC “I’m in a rush because I think I’m important” kind of way.
  • They love beer here, as noted above. Only thing that’s lacking is variety in most restaurants. The craft brew scene must be small here.
  • As many have noted, I also love this hostel. Great atmosphere and they have something going on every night to encourage interaction. The atmosphere in the public spaces is friendly and comfortable.
  • I’ve missed gelato. There’s just something about getting a scoop on a waffle cone walking around a historic European city that’s so refreshing. I tried ice cream once since being here and it’s just not the same anymore…
  • Since being here, I’ve gone through 2 books and am finishing up a third right now. Guess I can do a lot of reading without all those pressures of things like “work” around. That, and no TV and not being online all day long.
I’ll continue to share more pictures as the days go by. Can’t drop them all on you at once, right? Then they wouldn’t be as special. 

Seeing How the Locals Do

It’s not just about the big pretty sights, but the little things too. Parks, train lines, walking paths. These are the things that catch my eye as I walk around. Enjoy a small peek into the (mostly) less touristy views of Prague thus far. During these moments of considering their perspective, it becomes a little less about “vacationing” and more just about being and living in the moment.

I took a walk through this large green space just south of Prague Castle. I actually ended up spending afternoon here meandering then stopping to read instead of making to the Castle! Being away from the activity of the city was just what I needed yesterday. It was great watching families and friends (you could tell most people where I had stopped were locals) just hanging out in this park enjoy their afternoon.

You’re probably thinking, “more parks, really?” And my answer is “Yes!” A perfect mix of warmth, breeze, shaded sunlight, and available seating made this a wonderful place to stop for an hour or so. And I’m not required to purchase something to stay.

I’m trying to remember where this garden was, but it was tucked away just off a path. Few people paid attention to the gated entry way this was hiding behind. Seats interspersed throughout this small space with a couple winding paths. I’ll spare everyone the numerous flower pics I took, but it was quaint and beautiful here.
On my way back, I passed by the main train station in Prague (Hlavni Nadrazi). This scene intrigued me. Perhaps it’s the crazy mess of rail lines or how it represents the city’s growth over the years and connections to the rest of the continent. It’s something I could see myself putting up as artwork one day.

Sabbatical Spotlight: Czech Food and Jazz night in an old 12th century vault

Today there will be no pictures, even though I took plenty. I wasn’t in the mood to go through them all, edit a few, and post them. Instead, I will focus on dinner and a jazz club I happened upon.

I finally sat down in a restaurant that serves traditional Czech fare and ordered goulash, roasted pork, cabbage, and bread dumplings. Oh, and a Pilsner Urquell of course. Everything was most excellent. Almost 6 hours later and I’m still not hungry. Guess that’s what you get when you eat so much dense food. I think the whole bill set me back $14USD. Not too bad. What’s always amazing to me in Europe is that the beer is always so cheap, equating to less than $2USD for a 0.5L glass. Mixed drinks are “crazy expensive” in comparison, like $6USD. Insanity!

So I walked around for a bit to work off some of my meal and eventually ended up at this jazz bar near Old Town Square. The coolest part of it is that it was housed in an old vault built back in the 12th century! Acoustics were pretty decent for the small space and people were crowded in. But why do I mention this? As a guy from Chicago who has a good friend with a jazz trio (or whatever genre they say they are these days), I realized how much I go see the Paul Abella Trio and really enjoy their sound. It’s tight, it’s fun, it’s just all around enjoyable. This quintet was good, but they didn’t compare for me. Paul, if you’re reading this, you need to look into doing a Central European tour. I will go with you for support!

OK, one last random item to note. As I walked around after dinner, I saw a bus with “Princess of the World” written across the front and sides of it. Curious, I stuck around for a few minutes to see what was going on. Sure enough, the bus was carrying princesses from countries around the world, including the UK, Czech Republic, and a bunch of other places I can’t remember. Apparently pretty people are descending upon Prague while I’m here, though I have my doubts they are traveling here because of me.

Today was an otherwise low key day. It was one of those days where I feel like I’m just living vs. vacationing. Moments pass where I think I should be doing more, but that’s not the whole point of this trip for me. It’s more than that and today began to expose that, albeit in small doses. I sense more introspection coming my way in the next few days…