Europe : : Prague, Czech Republic

My first night living in Prague I took a ride on tram 22 having not even the slightest idea where I was going or how many memories would eventually be made on that very tramvej dvacet dva. A mere half-day in I had already seen impressive works of graffiti sprawled over the blank spaces of the cityscape that weren’t determined to be of some historical importance. In the Czech Republic, graffiti is completely legal and considered to be an expression of free speech–a right of serious importance to the Czech people who for so long were censored under Soviet rule.

After getting off the tram, myself and a few others roamed around a bit, mostly just feeling giddy about being in Prague. I came across this graffiti heart down a lonely alley and was immediately struck by it for reasons that are still unclear to me. As one might assume, I naturally fell deep in love with Prague and yet of all the brilliant sights of art and architecture the city contains, this is the image I keep on coming back to when I think of this place. I could talk for days about this city and the feelings I harbor for it, but I think this simple, not-too-attractive image accurately depicts what I often pretend, which is that that’s my love letter to a city that’s not really mine, that that’s my messy heart painted pink and blue and scrawled with paint like ink.


‘Sights’ is a portion of ‘Stories From Untamed Waters’ that will cover the places that have influenced me, changed me and inspired me. Check back for more images and their stories.


Pinpointing Frustration

I’ve been back in Portland for almost a week now and although the circumstances are unusual given the substantially inconvenient snowfall, I have already gathered and processed the feeling that I don’t want to be here. This break has been warmly welcomed by me for the most part and I have appreciated spending time with my family as well as catching up with fond friends, but at the same time this break is being tarnished by my frequent frustrations in my attempts to adjust and feel at home again in a place that suddenly feels so foreign. I suppose these feelings can be attributed to some form of mourning; I’ve certainly felt overwhelmed with the conflicting, emotionally charged feelings of anger, sadness, stress and loss which are uncomfortably partnered with odd bouts of excitement, gratitude and contentment. It’s often difficult for me to return home both because a lot has changed and yet many things have remained exactly the same.

This time around I’m slowly discovering that everything that was once “normal” and customary to me has morphed into something strange– even a trip to the grocery store has grown into an overstimulated and even frightening experience. Almost everything stresses me out here. Be it the blaring television, my impending return to an actually rigorous course-load, personal finances, understanding everything that everyone says, defining my abroad experience in as few words as possible and expecting people to actually feel interested– this is all weighing me down. It’s frustrating and fortunately not entirely unbearable, at least not yet. I don’t mean for this to be a forum for my complaining and so I will halt myself now and simply say that I miss you Praha. I miss absolutely everything about you.

I guess this is what they mean by reverse culture shock.

European Snapshots Version 2.0

Dresden Gardens

Beautiful gardens in Dresden, Germany

Xiu xiu

Xiu Xiu at The Meet Factory in the outskirts of Prague

Castle krakow

Castle grounds in Krakow, Poland

prague gardens

Pretty gardens in Prague featuring a nice view of the castle way up high

piss sculpture

David Cerne’s Piss Sculpture in front of the Franz Kafka Museum in Prague


One vantage point view of Stockholm, Sweden


Swedish ducks and sunset (at 3:00 PM) with the Nordic Museum in the distance

I’ve solved a problem

I’ve decided to write a novel. Deja vu anyone?

As a result of my less than stimulating course work at Charles University I’ve felt quite unchallenged and unproductive. My brain is wasting away because, aside from my pleasure reading, it is running idle.

For those unfamiliar with my personality, I really, really can’t stand it when things are too easy. This statement can be attributed to almost any faction of my existence: men, work, writing, living etc. I thrive off stress, complexities and confusion. Currently, I’m in decline and feeling, albeit not entirely, purposeless.

I’m not studying abroad, I’m simply abroad. Yes, it’s all well and good being able to explore and travel and meet new people without having to worry about the assignment due the next morning, but, seriously, this is way too easy. And, when things are easy, I don’t even really care to try.

Now you see my predicament. I haven’t been writing, aside from my posts, and I haven’t really been creating anything of substance, which I think is a shame considering the wealth of inspiration that comes with simply being in Prague. Thus a solution was necessary.

Today is the 1st of November and I recall, thanks to a reminder from my friends over at Paste, that today also marks the start of National Novel Writing Month.

Sure, I’ll be traveling a lot this month and, yes, I will still be lavishing in my Prague experience, but I am all for this novel writing adventure and am looking forward to documenting my progress/stress/anger/love/insanity all over this here blog of mine.

Readers, if I have readers, get excited because this month is about to get a whole lot more entertaining for this seafaringwoman. Game on.

Things I’m quite fond of…The Prague Version

-Czech thrift stores, more specifically the one in the train station
To put it into perspective just how close this place comes to my version of mecca, I purchased 3 adorably patterned scarves, 3 nice fitting cardigans, 1 decorative tank top and 1 yellow sweater vest for a whopping 200 Koruns..this equates to $10. Meccccca.

-59 Korun Sangria from the corner ‘market’
To be honest, the sangria isn’t that spectacular, but when mixed with an additional bottle of red wine this stuff gets to be real good.

-Bohumil Hrabal

Just finished Closely Observed Trains and have determined that this man is a wonderful writer. I’m thoroughly enjoying my Czech reading assignments.

This is my Czech Art and Architecture professor and oh goodness is he a riot! He is often times offensive (unintentionally, which is all that much more hilarious) and has no shame. He is also knowledgeable, which is nice trait in a professor.

-Gyros at Narodni Trida
Nothing, nothing tastes better than this $3 treat at 3 in the AM

Words can’t even begin to express how into this show I am. In fact, I’m really perturbed that it’s only in its second season because I’ve already watched every episode multiple times. This is how I spend my time in Prague!

-“Thank You Mario, But Our Princess is in Another Castle”

And this is why I adore John Darnielle.

-Not winning writing contests

Yeah, so Wordstock doesn’t want to give me money. The upside? The more I fail at writing, the more likely I am to pursue a financially stable career in marketing!

-Stealing food from the Kolej breakfast

Living in the Czech Commie dorms has turned me into a regular klepto when it comes to food. Also, it’s just a fun activity since the angry Commie breakfast ladies are onto me.

-Mad Men
My dear friend Dennis expressed to me long ago the magic that is this show. Unfortunately, I was immersed in The Wire so it was put on the back burner. Now, with PR done and free time on my hands I’M OBSESSED! If you don’t watch this show you suck at life.

:: European Snapshots ::

This is Telc, a small town in the Czech Republic featuring a castle and a town square that closely resembles something you would expect to see in Disneyland

Statue I stumbled upon in Prague while roaming near Charles University

The Citadel in Budapest, Hungary up close

View of Prague as seen on my walk from the Kolej to Charles Bridge

One of my favorite reading spots overlooking the Vltava

Geologist from Animal Collective, seen at the Archa Theater in Prague

The Lennon Memorial Wall in Prague

Return to My (Foreign) Childhood

Despite my qualms about being entirely unprepared, I managed to find my way to Prague intact and with an enlivened spirit starving for adventure.

Moving to Prague is similar to what I imagine being reincarnated as a child would be like. Everything is so surreal, so new and so exciting that, most of the time, I find myself in a state of absolute awe.

My eyes are constantly darting every which way, taking in sights unseen and marveling at the great heights of the brilliant castles, cathedrals and unknown structures that tower over me and, at 5′ 10″, I finally feel small again — a feat I was almost certain had been lost after puberty.

My ears, bombarded by a slew of unfamiliar phrases, searches for syllables that I just might comprehend while my tongue softly sounds out the foreign words I can’t wait to pronounce properly. This confusion is all set to the tune of my favorite ’90s hits blaring out of every stereo, every car and every speaker in every store, club, bar, restaurant and on every street.

Getting lost at every turn, tripping over myself (mostly cobblestones) daily and generally eating foods unacquainted with my palette, all take me back to the days of my clumsy childhood when I was surprised by and marveled over everything.

In almost every way I feel like a kid again.

I say almost because my childhood never involved acquiring a taste for (excellent) Czech beer, gargantuan dance clubs or the fear of being pickpocketed — though my parents did warn me against strangers.

As often comes with the territory of being a child, my first few weeks in Prague have been marked by a myriad of intensified emotions.

Joy has attached itself to my frequent bouts of amusement at finding something shocking and breathtaking around every corner, though frustration has also had its way with me; all those times that I try, and fail, not to come off as an American tourist.

Not to mention the frustration of overpaying for food in any remotely touristy part of the city, an area located quite close to my current abode.

Among all of my impressions, feelings and emotions, I find myself being particularly overtaken by a single one, and, as cheesy, and clichéd, as this certainly will be to say, I find myself falling in love with this place.

I’ve been flirting with Prague for almost three weeks now and find that the city is making quite an impression on me. Although it’s not perfect, just as no cities truly are, part of my love affair with Prague is strengthened by the flaws that give it character.

The graffiti marking the walls and steps to the metro. The people, sometimes cold but often kind deep-down. The language I slaughter with my inexperienced speaking tongue. The missing cobblestone that begs me to pay attention to my step. The hills that lead to views no photo can appropriately capture.

This is the Prague I’m getting to know and love.

The second entry from my relocation blog on Prague TV.