There are a lot of ways in my life that I’m lucky, from the obvious to the mundane.  I’m lucky to have gone to a good school, to have great friends, and to have had multiple opportunities to study and travel abroad and see many of the places I’ve always dreamed of.  Most of that luck, though, stems from one thing: my parents.  I think that of everything I have in my life, I’m luckiest to have the parents that I do.  Both my mother and father have always supported me and encouraged me in every way, no matter what the decision.  You want to leave a Big Name University?  Do it.  Travel to Asia alone at the age of nineteen?  Why not?  Of course you can spend the next three years in the cornfields of Iowa!  I know that there are many, many people who can’t say the same thing.

I’m also lucky that my parents are financially secure enough to have both been able to come visit me during my year here in Prague.  Again, this is something that many people don’t have the opportunity to do, especially now.  I wrote many months ago about my trip to London with my mother, which was full of walking, food, and served to quell some of my homesickness.  My recent visit from my father had many of the same elements, but with a different setting.  We spent several days in Prague and travelled to Berlin for the weekend.  I’m going to split up our time into two posts, because while I enjoyed both, the subject matter and history of Berlin are much more serious than the less-Nazi-filled time in Prague.

My father is the first visitor I’ve really been able to show around Prague after having lived here for a significant period of time.  When Thomas visited in the summer I was just settling in and getting to know the city, and when another friend from Grinnell was in town a few weeks ago I had to work, leaving him to his own devices during the day, although I was able to make time to introduce him to good Czech food (lucky for him he’s not a vegetarian) and a frustrating round of trivia at the Prague Tiki Lounge.

Much like my trip to London, my father’s trip to Prague consisted mainly of walking.  We walked around Old Town, we walked around the castle, and we walked past my office, where he took a picture of me in front of my law firm’s nameplate.  Because I’m extremely professional like that.  We also played “how many old and famous things can you fit in one picture?”  A lot, as it turns out.

It had been a long time since I had taken my camera around Prague, and I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to use my fancy new camera at night.  Prague after dark is almost surreally beautiful, like something sketched out by a Disney animator.  Everything glows around the river, and the castle up on the hill could be right out of a fairy tale.  I think most cities are beautiful at night, but Prague seems especially suited to the dark.  Even the Charles Bridge, usually unbearable because of the number of meandering tourists, is transfixing.

Having my father here made me appreciate Prague again.  The arrival of spring and the excuse to walk across the city, cameras in hand, made his visit both welcome and therapeutic.  Though I wrote before of my love of the snow and Prague winter, I can’t say that I lament the warm weather and being able to keep my windows open again.

I wish he could have stayed for another day or two, but I think that’s always the case.  I’m sure when I move back home I’ll forget my incredible luck all to quickly as I become bogged down with day-to-day chores and the routine of seeing my family again.  Hopefully I’ll be able to remind myself.

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I left home exactly one month ago today.  That’s so hard to believe.  I feel simultaneously as if no time has passed at all, and as if I’ve been here forever.  I guess that isn’t really new, though.  I remember feeling similarly at Grinnell.  I could never really get my HPIM2113mind around the fact that I spent three years in rural Iowa, and yet I felt like I had been there for so much longer.  I think, though, that as long as I’m not looking at my time and thinking, “That’s it?  Only a month has passed?  Eleven to go”, I’ll be all right.

Thomas came to visit this past weekend, and it was wonderful to spend time with someone from home.  When I’m here, I’m very self-conscious about seeming like a tourist.  I don’t like to have my map out, I don’t like to speak much so that fewer people realize that I don’t speak Czech.  I don’t mind it when I’m an actual tourist, but now that I live here, suddenly it seems so embarrassing.  Having Thomas here was nice because, among other things, it gave me an excuse to act like a tourist.

On Saturday, we took a tram all the way up the hill on the west side of Prague to see what Brandon promised us was the best view in the city.  From above, Prague is a sea of reddish clay roofs, interspersed with the occasional spire and cut down the HPIM2108middle by the Vlatava.  My friend Erica once told me that every city has a color, and that is undoubtedly Prague’s.  The city was lucky enough to be relatively untouched after the war, and most of the architecture is hundreds of years old.

It was the warmest and sunniest that I’ve seen it since I’ve been here, even though everyone swears that the summers are usually hot and humid.  What I said before about Czechs loving to be outdoors still holds true.  As Thomas and I walked down the hill towards the city, there were families picnicking in the vineyards.  Making out way to town, we wound down through Mala Strana, where Prague Castle is, and briefly stopped to wander past the HPIM2124enormous gothic cathedral.

Part of me is worried that if I don’t have more visitors, I’ll never really do the touristy things here.  As it is, there’s so much that Thomas and I didn’t do.  We didn’t walk through the Jewish quarter or actually go in the castle.  On the other hand, I did all of those things two years ago, and I think perhaps the best part of being here for a year is to have the time to move past what the hoards of tourists are doing and find the little places.  Even though I’m not completely comfortable exploring “unpopular” (at least with the tourists) places alone since I don’t speak the language, I’m looking forward to finding my own spots, even if they are full of other expats.  That being said, maybe my year here will make me more adventurous.  I guess I still have time.

P.S.–It’s my dad’s and my brother’s birthday today.  Happy birthday!