September 9, 2017

Month 7 of Remote Year has brought me to Prague, the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic and the 14th largest city in the European Union. Prague is a living and breathing mystery; old and dingy but somehow unimaginably exquisite. It has some of the best-kept architecture in all of Europe, and its charm has lived through aggressive wars, attracting inevitable hoards of tourists each year. Prague is a wonderful city for walking and the public transportation system is excellent. It was so refreshing to come from winter in Argentina to summer in Europe. I feel like my mood instantly changed once I touched down on another continent. It helped to be in the sun, surrounded by colorful buildings, ornate architecture, and green public parks. Also, I made it past the half-year mark on this crazy year-long adventure which deserves a little bit of celebration. It was a busy month for me with side trips to both Berlin and South of France, on top of a few day trips in the Czech Republic.

My apartment was in a central location and close to public transportation. Our workspace was incredible. It was located in the former Danish Embassy fully equipped with old world charm, a spacious garden, and in-house chef. A fellow remote even taught weekly yoga classes on the lawn making it feel like a real coworking space.

I loved the open markets scattered around the city. I enjoyed taking the short subway ride to chat and taste the goods the local vendors had to offer. Even though the food was affordable, I found myself going to the market and cooking at home more this month than I had before. I was able to the rest of my pantry items from an organic market close to my apartment called Sklizeno.

At the beginning of the month, I made my way over to the National Theatre for a night at the opera with my galpal, Padma, to see Aida. The structural architecture and the aesthetics of the exterior of the building were magnificent. The interior is even more superb, with its decorative curtain and rich auditorium. I even got to catch the sunset overlooking the Charles Bridge during intermission.

My biggest highlight of the month was the Taste of Prague food tour. It was a delicious way to get acclimated to the city and its foodie treats. I started the tour with Prague ham with horseradish cream, pickled cheese, and Pilsner Urquell beers at the Lokal pub. I then had the beet root puree with goat cheese, and the Prague ham-potato salad-egg “chlebicek”, the open-faced sandwich, at Sisters Bistro. In conjunction, I tried meatloaf on bread, beef steak tartare, Debrecen sausage, salsiccia and an additional roast beef at the Nase maso butcher shop. For the main course, I had the roast duck with sauerkraut and potato dumplings at the Next Door restaurant. After that, we had the Zufanek OMG gin with the Bohemska linden and basil tonic water and ice cream sandwiches over at Parlor. I finished at Eska restaurant with fermented soda, burnt potato in ash with potato espuma, fermented red wheat with raw, sautéed and pickled mushrooms, red currant sorbet, cream rolls and zemlovka: bread pudding with apples in a combination of vanilla and rum. Eska was hand’s down my favorite restaurant in Prague, and I went back multiple times for brunch and dinner. I highly recommend this food tour when you are here!

Besides the food tour, to my demise, Prague was full of delicious cafes and wine bars. My favorites were La Boheme CafeMezi srnky, MamacoffeeMůj šálek kávy, Clear Head, Momoichi, and Conductor. Veltlín is a wine bar not to be missed! They don’t have a menu, but the experienced sommelier lets you try wine based on grapes and flavors you like making it a truly personalized glass. I also recommend heading to Prague 7 to spend an afternoon at VNITROBLOCK, a concept store, and cafe, and then getting lost in the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.

Prague also has a sizable Vietnamese community. Due to the shared Communist past and the educational exchanges arranged during these regimes, the influx of Vietnamese students to the Czech Republic has created a healthy community that serves as the basis for new Vietnamese immigration. It is home to Sapa market, a.k.a. “Little Hanoi”, a fairly large warehousing complex on the outskirts of Prague that houses one of the biggest Vietnamese markets outside of Vietnam.

You can get a beautiful view just about anywhere in the city. You will always find people strolling over the bridges along the Vltavabut my favorite view of the city is from the river! I went with another galpal and rented paddle boats at sunset and had incredible views of the bridges and castles all while getting in a little cardio.

Czechs have a reputation as beer-lovers, but not everyone knows that they are extremely fond of honey. In fact, the Czech Republic has one of the highest numbers of beekeepers in the world and many of them are located right in the center of Prague. I was able to visit a local hive and learn the process and hobby of beekeeping through a local apiarist. I have always been interested in having my own hive and will definitely remember this moment if and when I do.

Czechoslovakia played a key role in Hitler’s Third Reich and many reminders of this traumatic time lay hidden throughout the city. I went on a tour in which a historian discussed some facts about the true story of the two parachuters, Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, during WWII who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s right-hand man. I watched the film, Anthropoid, and then went on a walking tour through Prague to some of the most relevant sites from the movie. After taking refuge with two Prague families, the assassins, along with five other paratroopers, hid in the Karel Boromějský Greek Orthodox Church in Prague’s New Town. To this day, you can still see the bullet holes from the church seize. This was an extremely powerful and emotional day for me, connecting me closely to how these actions altered the course of history.

I did a few day trips in Bohemia during my month-long stay. One was to Sedlec Ossuary that features an artful collection of dismembered and bleached human remains. It is estimated to hold the remains of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, many of whom died of the plague in 1318 and during the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. The chilling building lies beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints and local woodcarver František Rint was given the job of bleaching and arranging the remains. It was a short train ride to the suburb of Kutná Hora where you can stroll around town and check out other churches like The Church of Our Lady and Saint Barbara’s Church.

Pilsen is a town located about an hour and 45 minutes from Prague, making it perfect for another day trip. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery is the heart of Pilsen’s identity and holds a special spot in the Czech Republic’s identity as a whole. After a visit to the brewery, you will find it was in Pilsen that global beer history was made. Beer may have been around since the times of the ancients, but for much of that time, it was not refined or even pleasant to taste. Brew master Josef Groll and the town of Pilsen sought to put an end to this, and in October 1842, the first batch of bottom-fermenting lager was invented, setting the scene for a revolution in beer-making and giving birth to an entire style of beer, named after its birthplace; the Pilsner was born.

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