Reading: The Sympathizer

I have so many books to read or that I’m in the middle of reading and texts for my research next year – but the one book I took with me to Berlin and have been reading for the sheer pleasure of it is The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Nguyen’s writing is a truly enjoyable to read and he’s got an excellent, biting sense of humor. I won’t do justice to the summary, so just click on that link to read more about it on Goodreads. I don’t find many books that I really want to stick to or have a hard time putting down these days – this is one of the rare few.

Listening: Kreuzberg (playlist)

It’s been a long time since I had huge amounts of time or motivation to make playlists and really dive into listening to music. Europe is always great for that. 🙂 I made a few playlists during my month in Berlin with some old favorites and new discoveries. This is the first playlist I made, as I explored the neighborhood I was staying in, Kreuzberg. (Though really, it was Kreuzberg and Neukölln, just past Gorlitzer Park.)

v Praze

Husband arrived in Berlin the day after my program ended so that we could spend a week just enjoying Berlin together. Originally, we’d thought to go to Copenhagen for a couple of days – but a couple of my classmates had tried to talk me into a couple days in Prague during our free weekend. I went back and forth on whether to go or not but ultimately decided that one, I didn’t have the energy for a (to me) frantic in and out trip to Prague and two, I didn’t know how I’d feel about returning so I’d rather have gone with Husband.

SO, when Husband arrived, we decided to hop the bus to Prague for a quick two days. (We took the bus there, which was surprisingly simple, but took the train back… honestly, I love trains, they’re always my favorite way to travel.)

 

Ironically, because it was such a short trip and I let Husband choose a (very nice) boutique hotel that he’d seen in the New York Times, the Boho, we wound up spending all the time there in the one general area I would usually have avoided like the plague! That area would be the Old Town area, which I usually wanted nothing to do with because it’s Tourist central. Though as we walked around, it was fine because I realized that, even when I lived in Prague, I still spent a lot of time walking through this area for one reason or another. Josefov is always beautiful, I always had fantasies of living in a flat above Pařížská (Paris Street) around Christmas time. I spent a great deal of time utilizing the wifi (“wee-fee” in Czech!) and drinking Videnske Kava at Restaurace Jáma on v Jame and a couple of theaters that showed international and indie films there. (Lucerna, of course, and another whose name escapes me at the moment.) I remember seeing “Children of Men” here one evening, by myself, at the theatre off of Vaclávské Námêstí. I accidentally dragged Husband on a ten mile walking trek from Boho up to Letná because I was hell bent on going in a particular direction.

I made sure to go to the Valdštejnská zahrada (Wallenstein Garden) because it was one of my favorite spots in Prague – I often went there, alone, to sit and read, write letters, and watch Summer concerts.

We passed by a Michelin Star restaurant and, because that’s “our thing”, immediately decided to make reservations for lunch the next day, but they weren’t open. So we searched “Michelin Star Prague” and wound up at Alcron, instead. We were NOT disappointed. It’s a tiny, wee little place with completely over the top decor and white glove service and it was magnificent. The one thing I had always said about Prague was that you don’t go for the food or the shopping. I mean, I’m not interested in going anywhere to shop, anyway, but I’m still dubious of Prague’s in that respect. The tasting menu at Alcron was outstanding and from what I’ve been reading, the food situation in Prague has changed drastically since I’ve been gone. So has the coffee situation! I did not have time to hit up the third wave cafes that were on my list, though I did manage to check out one (EMA Espresso Bar). I would have loved to go to the Coffee Room and an old favorite, Cafe Savoy – next time, perhaps. I am, as you know, very, very fussy about coffee. But going back to food – I was surprised to discover I had a massive craving for and needed to introducte husband to nakládaný hermelín (“marinated Camembert”, essentially.) I had forgotten about this delicious treat and realized I need to recreate it at home.

Nakládaný hermelín!

Alcron

Lastly, I was completely blown away by how much Czech I remembered. I wasn’t having lengthy conversations with anyone, but the fact that I was able to speak to the hotel staff and communicate with the restaurant servers in a way that not only was I understood, but they responded to me in Czech was … well, it was really satisfying.  (I had to talk myself down off of a “screw German, I’m going to take a year of Czech at UW!” ledge because I was so excited. And I still think Czech is utterly beautiful to hear.) Though I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since Czech has creeped in A LOT over the past couple years as I’ve been learning Arabic and German.

I would definitely like to go back for a longer stay at some point, there are things I want to experience again and I’ve always felt like Prague & I have unfinished business.