The penultimate leg of my European odyssey was involved catching up with good friends I made when I lived in the Czech Republic, back in 2004-05.
- Seeing Chris and Lenka in Vienna, and also their dog Eli, who really didn’t like me at all. I didn’t take it personally.
- Staying for the weekend with my ‘Czech family’ in Olomouc. We hung out, caught up on a decade of life, had a lot of laughs. They taught me how to make Czech style sauerkraut. We watched Casablanca and Mamma Mia.
- Wandering around Olomouc with a dear old friend, Kamila, exploring old and new places. Including excellent exhibitions in the Muzeum Umeni.
- Two half days either side of Olomouc in Brno, the second biggest city in the Czech Republic. I’d never spent much time there and it impressed me. Possibly because the sun was out the whole first day.
- Touring the bars of Brno with an old friend, Radim. Then crashing at his house and catching up with partner, Misa, and meeting their very cute clock-obsessed son, who walked me to the tram stop in the morning because I didn’t know how to get there.
- On that note. Czech beer is really good. It also helps that bars aren’t ridiculously overpriced, like they are in Berlin, Paris, London, Amsterdam, etc. People can still smoke inside some bars though, so that’s a bit of a bummer.
- The Czech Republic has ‘tea-houses’ in every city and town. They are run by students and hippies, serve indian, Japanese and Chinese teas, water pipes, and are usually a guaranteed place to get vegetarian food. Plus there’s sitting around on cushions for a few hours reading a book or chatting with friends. That’s
- Catching up with the final Czech family-member – Nikola – in Prague, for some vegan Malaysian food, coffee, chats about capitalism, animal rights, and then a mad dash to the train platform to head back to Berlin.
Some Flickr photo galleries:
Brno & Vienna
I can’t emphasise enough the significance of that year I spent in Olomouc, 2004-05, and thus the people who shared that time with me. A few weeks ago in London I realised that one of the reasons I came overseas was to distance myself from the person that I had become, and the world he inhabited.
There’s never enough room or time to go into the ‘why’ of that fully, but it involves a troubled, lonely and dark adolescence, a slice of religious indoctrination, a nervous breakdown or two, and a handful of addictions.
Olomouc was the place where I truly found ground zero, where the only association with my past was me. It’s where I began the reconstruction of self I had been preparing for over the previous few years. I will be forever grateful for the friends I made in that 12 months.
Of course, I couldn’t articulate any of that at the time.