When Travel is Not Glamorous.
Traveling is wild. I am writing this as I sit on the bus to Prague to get to the airport after an exhausting and wonderful weekend with one of my dearest friends. It is past one in the morning and we have not slept(in fact, as I edit this, I have been awake for 28 hours and still have more to go.) Traveling is NOT always glamorous like it's portrayed on social media and it shouldn't be. Some of the best travels run on no sleep and walking until your legs want to give. Sometimes travel is messy and draining. That's what makes it so addicting and why it gives your soul fire. It's so strange that two years ago I dreamed of going abroad and it seemed like the most impossible thing and here I am a little over two years later and I have travelled through/been to some ten countries. This is not me bragging, this is me showing that impossible is nothing. Growing up in the US, I feel like there is this misconception engrained in many people's heads that travel is not possible. They think it is too expensive, not worth it, too difficult, and many other excuses. Now, I KNOW sometimes circumstances are not ideal and things really aren't possible, BUT I know that a lot of people just do not put in the effort even if they really want to go out an see the world. For one, people tend to look at one website for tickets and one set of dates, they see the prices and freak out. I use to do that too, but you would be so surprised to see what just a little more research could get you. Trust me, I've been there, done that. However, since living here, the act of traveling is so much more accepted and done. Travel is not seen as this impossible task that only the rich can do, it can be for everyone. It broke my fear that seeing the world is meant for those with the perfect means to do so, it is for all those that crave adventure and are willing to put the effort into it. Traveling does not have to be expensive flights and luxury hotels. What is the point when you want to be out exploring by foot? What is worth more, the five-star hotel or the long hike up a mountain to a view that makes you feel invincible?
This weekend I got to visit my lovely friend in Czech Republic and for only having two full days, we did A LOT. I figured I would give a little insight to what Czech is like and what we got to do.
First of all, the architecture in Czech is beautiful. There are so many buildings that are filled with intricate carvings and are combinations of gothic, renaissance, and baroque design. It look my breath away.
On Saturday, we spent the whole day in Karlovy Vary, a small town that is known as a 'spa town' for its fresh mineral springs. They have little fountains in the city that bring up water from below that you can drink right away. I have to say, the taste is very strong and not the best, but hey, it's good for you so, we took a few sips from each fountain.
I bought the cutest little mug to drink from, they sell different assortments of cups and I highly recommend buying at least a little one as a souvenir. There are many tourist traps, but these are worth it.
We also hiked up to a place called 'deer jump' which had the most amazing view from the top. It was such a steep climb and my legs were shaking afterwards, but the walk paid off. Warning, Czech is VERY hilly so, prepare to get a good workout when venturing to places.
If any of you have seen Grand Budapest Hotel, there is a hotel here that looks so similar to the one in the movie. My friend looked it up and it was slightly inspired by the one here in Karlovy Vary.
Before all this, we did have coffee at this really retro place called 'Republica Coffee' and my cappuccino was very nice. The breakfast was mediocre so, I wouldn't recommend that. This place specializes in coffee, so I wasn't surprised. It had a rock n' roll vibe especially with music playing from the 1950's.
After our wild journey to the top, we were getting famished and wanted to go to probably the only vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Karlovy Vary, BUT it was closed...on a Saturday. How is that possible? That is another thing I learned about Czech is that so many places are closed on the weekend or just went you'd expect them to be open. Not a huge deal, just inconvenient.
We still needed to eat, so we decided maybe we could just eat some typical Czech food and my friend found a pub/cellar looking place that was open. Now, from the very start, the place had strange vibes as well as the waiters. After we sat down and were ready to order our food, the waiter began speaking to us in a very rude and condescending way. My friend told him that we do not speak Czech and rather than just saying something like, "Oh, okay" he proceeded to say in an angry tone that "and I don't speak English." After that my friend wanted to change her order and he made a very repulsive face and kept saying, "No. No change. No." We both felt SO uncomfortable. I understand that he doesn't have to be charming and endearing, but he could be RESPECTFUL especially to people that are new to the country.
We just got up and left. Bad vibes. Bad vibes.
At this point, we were feeling hopeless and very hungry. Everything looked closed and we could not stop thinking about that waiter and how cruel he was. Then, something wonderful happened, we started walking around and came across a market of some sorts that had different vendors selling little gifts and FOOD. There was this stand filled with pans that had different kinds of authentic Czech food and it smelled divine. Our hearts were beginning to warm and we decided to get some food here. The lady was so kind even though we didn't speak Czech. There was even a little girl who gave us a lollipop each with an adorable smile on here face. And guess what? The food was wonderful. It was the kind of food that sticks to your ribs and makes your soul shine and it was just the thing we needed after being on our feet for so long. We were giggling with joy and we couldn't believe that just a few minutes ago, we were so absorbed by our restaurant experience and the rudeness of the waiter and now we just had a completely different experience. Sometimes, you can't let things get to you because something beautiful could be literally right around the corner. I feel like this is so true with travel. Give things a chance and if it doesn't work, move on and look elsewhere. Don't let it ruin your whole trip.
Towards the evening, we took a bus to Brno and the bus ended up being 45 minutes late. That's another thing, so many things in Czech are so slow or delayed. Now, I am not stereotyping the whole country, just from my experience and my friend's. My friend told me that things are always getting cancelled or delayed for long periods of time. I could tell that things seem to run a little unorganized, but again, just my opinion. We made it to Brno later than we wanted and so many places were closed to eat since it was almost 11 at night. We found a little diner place and got some vegetarian burgers...at 11 at night, see? Crazy the things you can find when you least expect it.
Then, came the sleeping issue. In Karlovy Vary, we stayed in a lovely Airbnb, but since my friend has a dorm in Brno and her flatmate was gone, I was going to sleep there. However, my friend had anticipated that we would get there before 11 and after 11 they check ID cards and with me not being a student, I technically am not allowed to sleep there in her dorm. Can you imagine the fright that went through us? I was suddenly thinking, "where the heck am I going to sleep tonight when it is already so late? We were panicking.
BUT, the lady at the desk somehow did not seem bothered and let me go upstairs with ease. The relief was enormous. My friend kept apologizing for her small dorm room, but I kept telling her, "do you realize that few minutes ago and didn't even know if I would be able to sleep here?" I was thankful and we had a good laugh.
Sunday, we spent in Brno and we first stopped for breakfast at this adorable cafe called 'Cafe Placzek' and after two day of eggs, we were craving porridge and THIS DID NOT DISAPPOINT. It was a complete hug in a bowl and the place itself was so cozy and calm. HIGHLY recommend. Super friendly staff as well.
Next, we hit up another good coffee location called 'Cafe Mitte' and my goodness it is TINY. There are only a few chairs and tables, but the coffee was lovely. If you like feeling snug, this is the place for you.
We journeyed to a church, an old bunker, a castle, and an art museum all before stopping for lunch called 'Forky's'.
It was a vegan restaurant and my eyes were as big as a child in a candy shop. There were so many goodies from kombucha, vegan burgers, and almond milk yogurts. I never wanted to leave. I ordered a hummus wrap, my friend ordered a stir fry and her friend ordered a burger with fries. We all liked our food. Would need to try more food from the menu to get a full opinion on this place, but if you want a fast, hustle bustle, and hipster kind of place, this is for you.
The final stop was this tea shop that specialized in tea brewing and they had thousands of board games that you could play while you sip your tea. My friend comes here every Monday with her friends and enjoys a few hours of tea bliss, good company, and classic games. It is good to see that board games aren't dying out completely. We played Ticket to Ride and if you haven't played that before, you are missing out. I drank a 'milk oolong' tea, two small pots to be exact, and it was so soothing and paired perfectly with good company. It was such a relaxed environment. Very zen, very good vibes.
Czech was an experience. Being honest, I would not pick it as a top place to travel, but it has its beauties and gems if you know where to look and have a little patience. Remember, traveling is not always, in fact it rarely is, a smooth process. Traveling takes so much out of you and I can definitely vouch for that as I am sitting here waiting for my flight to Tallinn. I feel so flushed with exhaustion that I can't tell what time it feels like. I know I will be a zombie in class tomorrow, but I would never take back this trip and say I regretted it because there were a lot of 'uncomfortable moments." Don't always live life comfortably, that won't get you anywhere.