I arrived in Prague for my summer FLAS at the height of summer (beginning of July). The city was just recovering from some pretty serious flooding—the same that Johanna mentioned in her post about Budapest—but the water had receded and the city mostly cleaned up. The Czechs are not unaccustomed to floods! There were still a few closed metro stations and some of the parks were still partially closed, but the weather was beautiful and everyone was in good spirits. The beer gardens were packed and there was live music by the river, where you could watch people (mostly tourists) out paddle boating. Beer is the national drink of the Czechs, and in my opinion, the best in the world! The word ‘Pilsner’ comes from the name of a town in Bohemia, Plzen.
My schedule in Prague was busy, but great. In the mornings, I had Czech classes at the Albertov campus of Charles University, which is close to the city center, just a 10-minute walk from the Vltava River. Afternoons usually found me in the National Library reading room where I was collecting potential sources for my dissertation. The building is an UNESCO site, which dates from the 11th century and used to house a Dominican monastery. As you can imagine, the reading room was beautiful—vaulted ceilings and frescos on the walls. I couldn’t imagine a better place to do research!
I’m lucky enough to have family in Prague. I don’t have any Czech background, but my Uncle owns a futon shop there and my cousin, his daughter, is half Czech. Most of my evenings I spent with my family cooking or hanging out in the Bubenec neighborhood of Prague, which is close to the castle. We took a couple of day trips out to the countryside on the weekends as well (more on that later!) I also got to catch up with some of the Czech friends I have from when I lived in Prague 8 years ago.