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.


If You Can’t Handle the Heat/Get Out of the Kitchen

I’m back! (oh joy you cry, another way to procrastinate or, another useless try-hard clogging up the internet).

I hope you all had fun without me. You did? Great, now it’s my turn to talk.

Let’s talk about heat: We arrived in Prague to 35 degrees. It was the gorgeous kind of heat that slaps you in the face and seeps into every pore of your skin until you are unable to figure out a way to cool down, the kind of heat that I absolutely love and basked in, which gives my other three family members pained looks on their faces whilst the backs of their knees sweated. They all showered at least twice a day while I did my daily shower for reasons of hygiene rather than any other. Glorious.

Glorious also was the sheer quantity of attractive men that strolled around Prague. I was so delighted, thinking that they were Czech. I was clearly wrong for as we exited the city (with our indispensible GPS) not only did the temperature reduce but so did the attractiveness of the male population. Strangely, there were still beautiful Czech women everywhere, needless to say my brother has decided the move there.

Let’s talk about kitchens: The food. I had to mention the food straightaway (because it’s me who’s writing it and because it was an integral part of our week). Quantities like you have never seen. People eating quantities in such a way that I thought was reserved solely for the southern USA. Goulash, dumplings (bread or potato), creamy sauces, mountains of potatoes, very few veges and the most perfect schnitzel (they call it řízek) available to man. Food and beer were so cheap and at every relative’s place there was always a meal, even if it was 11am in the morning and it was forced upon us with such delight and enthusiasm that it would have been rude to decline the multiple helpings. There was the now famous meal of potato salad and schnitzel at Dad’s cousin’s place that I thought was going to finish him off. After about five helpings, he got all flushed and his consumption slowed to a glacial pace while Mum slipped me half of her plate under the table. Fortunately my father (and his heart) pulled through and we had no reason to eat for the next week.

Now that the important stuff’s out of the way I should probably consider the history, which is, like most civilisations, actually a story of food and fire.

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