A week in Czech Repubic, and more travels

A month ago, I took my first trip abroad since last July.

It was a pretty spontaneous one to a country I’d not been to before, the Czech Republic, and as the days neared I found myself looking forward to the adventure to come.

I wasn’t quite prepared for what would unfold, however, and just how ‘adventurous’ this trip would be. I was really fortunate not to be visiting Czech Republic as a tourist; let me explain.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I love nothing more than to touch down in a country and be anonymous. Which is why, generally speaking, I like to spend a good amount of time in a country, and not just rush around – and still scratch the surface – by the time you’ve left. Or relax a bit and feel guilty because you’re not immersing yourself in the country and its culture, make the most of the time you have there.

Here’s how the Czech Republic trip happened…

I reached out to someone I’d met in Madeira last Summer called Kristyna (hey, Kristyna!). I remember watching Wimbledon tennis on the TV, and I think I was scrolling LinkedIn at the time or something, but I had a sudden memory of Kristyna. We had played tennis in Madeira, organising it through the Slack group everyone in the digital nomad community was a part of. They say one of the best parts of travel is the people you meet and I can say that this story is a wonderful example of that.

Over a few back-n-forth messages Kristyna shared with me what she had been up to, I did the same, and we found ourselves deciding to meet up – in the Czech Republic – after I’d not been abroad for nearly a year and, wait for it, Kristyna was about to up-end her life and move to the other side of the world.

It’s funny how things turned out.

Our communication switched to Signal (I’m not a WhatsApp-er), and we talked about the possibility of a mini-adventure. Looking back, mostly for me… though I sensed that she was open to catching up and, actually, we had some really honest communication before I went about expectations and boundaries (which continued into the trip to be honest).

Honestly, one of the things I was brought in touch with was how important communication and expectations are.

I stayed at Kristyna’s amazing flat for a couple of nights, before we took a trip up to Prague to meet another friend of ours (hey, Ze!), and the 3 of us spent a day together in the big city.

I actually spent most of my time in Brno (former capital of Moravia), Prague’s sister on the other side of the country (Prague being the former capital of Bohemia). I’ll be honest, even if I’d have gone to Czech Republic on my own, Brno would have been more ‘my city’.

What I liked about the place was how condensed the downtown area was, with a pretty mix of cafes, restaurants and shops, with plenty of hidden ‘nooks-and-crannies’. I taught Kristyna that phrase, much to her amusement; and, in turn, she taught and showed me a lot in Brno.

So much so, that I can see myself returning there. It feels so familiar to me now (even though I only spent a week there), and I’ve heard on good faith – from Kristyna and the clerk at the hotel I ended up staying in for the second half of my trip – that Christmas there is really pretty. And they get snow. I can see myself returning there in the Winter.

In fact, if I have any days left in my Schengen allowance at the end of the year after my European travels (see below, & thanks, Brexit 🙄), and I may well hop back across to Brno.

Also, another side-note, Brno has one of the coolest co-working spaces I’ve been to in my life. The design and aesthetic were really cool, and the space had plenty of spots to work from, both ‘in private’ and ‘out-in-the-open’ and across three levels (with a bonus reclining couch on the bottom floor!). In addition, there was a basketball court (I went out and too throws on a bunch of occasions, and in all weather), and there was even a roof-terrace. The coffee and croissants there were pretty decent, and there was also another cool coffee shop just a minute away with even more beverages and food available.

It was pretty hot for a few of the days, with CZ experiencing a heatwave like much of Europe was (London hit 40-degrees-C before I left, the hottest temperature ever recorded, and it was about 34-degrees when I landed in Vienna en route to Brno), though it cooled down a little towards the end.

I think what was most interesting about this trip was the timing, and the lessons and insights learned in just.eight.days.

There are too many to mention here, but the short version is that I missed travel, big-time. The 8 days wasn’t enough. I had actually only scratched-the-surface with regards to my growth and evolution as a traveller.

And, more than anything, that it had been building for a while and I now feel ready to embrace a new season in my life.

I’ve been living with my parents for much of my adult life (aside from time spent at university way back, and a handful of trips I’ve taken in the last 5 years, anything from a week to two months in length).

I’ve been sharing my deeper thoughts and conversations with my friends and family in recent days, but the short version is that I’m getting ready to take a period of extended travel.

Some of those conversations haven’t been easy for those around me, and I am so grateful to those nearest and dearest to me for:

a) understanding, however difficult it is for them, about the changes happening (they feel right for me, but I know change isn’t always easy for anyone), and

b) at times, seeing the worst of me as I try my best to communicate my plans, my emotions, and the burden I feel for what “doing me” will mean for others in my life who I care about.

I begin in the third-week of September, after I tie up some loose-ends and honour some commitments here in the UK, in a City I’d researched earlier in the year.

I can’t wait to land in Valencia, and see where the next chapter takes me.

Here’s to the road ahead, and all that’s to come.

a familiar spot in Brno

📸 some more photos from my trip