As many of you know, I’m a native American who has lived abroad. I lived in the Czech Republic twice as a student, and married a German. Our lives are this incredible mix of Germany and American and Czechia. A hodge podge of cobblestone streets, castles, wide open spaces, mountains, bikes, and long road trips. No matter where I have lived over the past 15 years, my heart has always had a piece missing. It’s the reason I travel so much. It’s the reason our daughter is bilingual.
I am so lucky to have been able to study abroad, so glad to have met my husband, but there are days when the homesickness is really hard. And no matter where we live, no matter how recently we’ve been back to Europe or have another trip planned, a part of our lives is always missing. It’s celebrating German holidays and Czech holidays quietly at home. It’s phone calls and texts and emails to friends and family far away. It’s long flights and castles and cake and friends you travel halfway around the world to see.
Last spring, I found amazingly cheap tickets to Prague and without really thinking, I booked them. I booked them because it had been 4 years since I had been back and I was desperate for my host family to meet my husband (who hadn’t made that trip with me) and our daughter. And today I realized, I haven’t shared some of the photos I took, photos of places I used to walk all the time when I lived in Olomouc and Prague, and I am feeling extremely homesick, as I always do in the fall, and so here you go.
Prague is a quirky place to travel with a little kid. It’s not exactly stroller friendly, and it’s not filled with playgrounds or kids museums, but Czechs love kids. I think it’s best as a town for tiny babies or for slightly older kids, but found parks and playgrounds. We stayed in Prague 6 this time, at this sweet family apartment near a bunch of embassies and I hadn’t spent much time on that side of the river when I lived in Prague. We loved the apartment, and we were so sad to leave.
In Olomouc, I got to show my family all the the places I used to go, and we spent a few days with my host family. It was so strange to see my old school, the main square, and all my old spots. We met up with a few friends in both Prague and Olomouc and it just…was so good to show my husband and daughter all the places I used to go all the time.
All these photos were shot on my Nikon FG 20 film camera, on Portra 160 and Portra 800.
Slowly but surely, I’m catching up on blogging and recaps. I feel like March just happened, but I blinked and now it’s May. Aaaah, Bloomsday is this weekend, and we missed it last year because we were in Germany, so I’m excited to have family in town for it and take our girl to watch it. She’s going to love checking out all the runners!
Excuse my partially demo-ed, partially reno-ed house, but these two are so adorable. They were playing in my office while I worked one day, and then heard dad come home. So they ran to the gate to sit there and wait for him. Right before this photo, little miss was standing up at the gate shouting Papa! Papa! but I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough.
I can’t believe it’s been a couple months, but in early March, I took little miss down to Nordstrom to get her first pair of real shoes…and she got a balloon too! If you want to make my kid happy, give her a balloon. Later, we swung by Rockwood Bakery for a mama daughter date, but she had more fun climbing under the table and playing peekaboo with the other people.
In March, I got to do some new work that I’m hoping to showcase later this year. I’ve been working more with companies to do branding and commercial work. It’s got me flexing different muscles, and makes me really appreciate my wedding and family work even more. This is a preview of a book I helped shoot for a preschool.
This girl and her piano. I love how much she loves music. She loves hanging out and playing the piano, so we tried using our Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair to have her play. It worked!
I had a commercial shoot with some building shots in March, and they wanted exterior shots. What do you do when you don’t have anyone to take care of your kid and you can’t drop them at dad’s office? You pop them on your back and take them with you. She was a total champ and had a blast giggling at the cars going by.
After our photography adventure, I took her out to a nearby walking trail and we went for a short walk in the sunshine. Her favorite thing is to be outdoors. She really doesn’t care how bad the weather is. She’ll go out in the rain or sunshine, and she almost always gets mad when I bring her back inside.
We got some new swim gear for swimming lessons and summer time at the lake, and she adores this suit. In fact, we packed it for a recent trip, and she stole it out of the suitcase and ran around the house asking to go swimming.
Sneaking up on Mama and her Aunt is harder when Mama sneaks in a selfie. We had a long layover in Seattle on our way to Prague, and we used the time to head to grandma’s house. Some lunch, and lots of running around and playing with family (and a trip to the Seatac play area) wore this girl out before our international flight.
This recent trip to Prague was with British Airways, and they have these great carrycots that fit larger lap infants! I was so excited to try them out, and it worked pretty well. She slept in it most of the way over, but spent more time in mama’s arms on the way home, because she was having a rough day getting over a cold she caught while we were traveling, and needed extra snuggles.
Two of the things that have changed now that we travel with a kid is where we stay and what we do. On this trip to Prague, I booked us a family apartment in Prague 6 near Stromovka park and we spent our first afternoon just wandering the trails, getting some fresh air, and exploring the neighborhood. It was an area of the city that I’d never really been to before, and I enjoyed seeing a different side of the city. Unbeknownst to me, this area of the city is also home to nearly all the embassies and residences of the foreign diplomats. The American Ambassador’s residence was just down the street from our Airbnb.
Little miss slept through our trip to Prague Castle (that’s the cathedral on the castle grounds on the right), so she’s slept at every castle she’s been too, although she was awake for our walk around Old Town Square.
The view from Prague castle’s overlook. If you can find the tower in the distance, that’s near my old apartment on the other side of the river. We had some pretty nice weather for a couple of our days in Prague, although it wasn’t nearly as nice while we were in Olomouc.
The best thing about traveling and staying at family apartments? Most of them have cribs. We brought our own for the days we spent with my family, but it was so nice to have this one in Prague.
Little miss went on her first train ride, and as you can see, she was thrilled. She spent most of the two hours looking out the window and exclaiming how excited she was. The trains and trams were a big highlight for her.
The metro, however, was less impressive. We learned a lot about navigating the metro and trams and I think I’ll blog about our trip to Prague in detail later. But needless to say, I am glad that we were both there to haul the stroller down the stairs. I think I would have had to get an umbrella stroller if I had gone on my own!
I forgot to bring an extra sippy cup for our girl, so when she demanded a taste of my tea or soda or whatever, we discovered that she was quite adept at drinking out of espresso cups. And, as a bonus, you can find them in nearly every home in the Czech Republic. Although…I’m not sure I know any Czechs who drink espresso.
On our last day in Prague, I snagged a bag of my favorite cinnamon sugar almonds. To me, cobblestones and roasted almonds are two things that really make a European trip feel like Europe.
Helping mama with laundry in her new favorite shirt. We had to do a lot of laundry after our trip. And, I was thrilled to find this shirt in the girls’ section at Target!
After a long month of traveling, wrap snuggles were pretty much necessary to help us adjust to the jetlag. She did one better, and pulled her arm out so that she could hug me while wrapped up on my back. What a silly, sweet kiddo!
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I’m terrible at sending in my film, because I’m always frustrated to pay for the shipping. So I stock it up until I have a few rolls, which can take a while in the winter. I just got a batch of scans back from late last fall and early this spring!
When I crossed the border from Germany into the Czech Republic, it marked the first time I’d been back in the country since January of 2009. I hadn’t meant to be gone that long, but it happened. And, because most of this part of the trip involved catching up with friends and my Czech host family (I have new brothers!) and fighting off a cold, I was almost surprised to see that I had actually taken pictures when I got the film scans back this week.
Olomouc: I lived in Olomouc with my host family for a year as a high school exchange student. While I was there in October, the weather was kind of gross and I only really had time to walk around the main square. I used to walk through this square almost daily after school and while it’s changed so much in the past decade, the main things (the UNESCO monuments, the town hall) are still, of course, there. Some things have changed – significantly – since I was there almost 8 years ago, but it’s still recognizable.
Prague: I spent roughly a day and a half in Prague, most of it catching up with friends. I stayed in the neighborhood I used to live in (Prague 2, near the border between Zizkov and Vinohrady) which has also changed a lot since I was there, and out near the airport.
PS – while most of these are photos taken for my own nostalgia, you can purchase a few of them through the personal work gallery on my proofing site and add a little Czech scenery to your home.
My favorite time to travel is the fall. The crowds are gone, the weather is still fantastic. The leaves are so many beautiful colors, and the air is crisp. It’s perfection. Unlike the last 2 times we’ve been to Germany, which it’s been January and freezing. This time, I’m going when the leaves are turning. The grapes are being picked, and the air is full of promise. And I’m so excited to say that I’ll be spending 2 weeks traveling through Europe this fall. Visiting Paris, traveling all over Germany and the Czech Republic to visit family. So far, my plans involve lots of cake and train travel. They involve wandering down cobblestone streets and packing light. I’m excited for my first solo trip to Europe in six years. I plan to catch up on the magic, and shoot it all on film. And I can’t wait to share it all with you sometime after I return. For now, a few photos from the last time I was in Europe in the fall.
Top & bottom – Berlin, middle – Vienna.
PS – I still wear that scarf. I picked it up the last time I was in Paris — in 2006.