Hands up if you’ve read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, hear me out, I know it’s not exactly critically regarded but it’s about a woman who eats, does yoga and then falls in love, so that’s kind of my thing.

Anyway, the characters discuss the importance of finding the place that has the same word as your word. They say that the word for Rome is ‘sex’ and the word for New York is ‘success.’ The word to describe the general vibe of the place, the thoughts of its people, its lifeblood. It’s a fun game to play.

The overwhelming sense you get in the Czech Republic (see, I told you I’d be cultural and sensitive etc) is that things are on the move, there are roads are being improved, old buildings are being restored, the economy is growing and the people are happier. In Prague it was difficult to get a local sense through the throngs of tourists but out in the eastern towns that we visited it was just like the fields of sunflowers we passed, heads turned up towards the sun. I think the Czech people are seeing the light, or taking a huge inhalation of fresh air. The word I would have to assign to that is ‘breath.’

Then there was London, I was a bit apprehensive that I wouldn’t still be head-over-heels in love with it now that my exchange buzz has worn off, but I was wrong, it was still gloriously enticing, drenched in history and culture and things happening and things happened and people people everywhere. The best I can do for London is ‘on-the-go.’

Of course, then there’s what Diana Vreeland called the best thing about London, Paris. Paris would have to be summed up by ‘beauty.’

Mum said that I’d feel at home in the Czech Republic because there would be people there who look like me (with my self-imposed ‘weird face’). But being around other high-cheekboned, sunken-eyed people didn’t make me feel any more comfortable there than I have in places like Rome, Lisbon or Sydney. I think our words just didn’t fit. But cities of movement and charm, that sounds much better.


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