What Prague Taught Me.

In 2000, Hubby was finishing up his graduate program from UCI, and we decided to do a semester abroad through the school. Naturalist was 4, and Golfer was 1. The only place we could afford to live was Budapest, Hungary…even though I had my heart set on France or Belgium or Italy or anywhere other than Hungary. I didn’t know anything about it, I hadn’t heard of anyone going there, and had some preconceived notions of what it would be like.

Happily for me, we were poor and had no other options so away we went to Budapest, where I went on to have the most amazing experiences in any city anywhere. Such an amazing place!

As part of our plans, we bought eurail passes and traveled on the days that Hubby didn’t have classes. One of our trips took up 9 hours by train up to Prague in the Czech Republic. We looked something like this, although that pic was taken somewhere between Hungary and Switzerland:

memory monday

We traveled almost every weekend, and had lots of experiences together, but the one that stands out most in my mind is that trip to Prague. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Golfer refused to settle down on the 9 hour train ride. Hubby got a migraine. Our travel plans changed at the last minute, so we ended up at a hostel instead of a private room. Golfer refused to settle down at night, so Hubby packed him up in a backpack and rode the subway all night long. Or, at least until 2 am, when the rails stopped running and he was dropped off at a random stop where he then had to find his way back to the hostel. Our stroller broke on the cobblestone streets. We were tired. The one restaurant in town where some expats told us had a cook that would make the most amazing American breakfast for us ended up not having that cook working that weekend.

It was just one thing after another. Hubby and I were tired and cranky. The kids were tired and cranky. I didn’t take many pictures, and we didn’t end up going to as many places as I wanted to. I just shut down and couldn’t wait to get back home to Budapest.

When we got back to the US and I got my pictures developed, I just about cried. The few rolls of film I took of Prague showed me a place I was immune to when I was walking through it. Not that I didn’t have good reason to not enjoy the trip! But it hit me, standing there back at home all comfy and not stressed…what if that was my only trip to Prague? Did I really want to have let some temporary situations get in the way of enjoying an incredible city? Because the pictures I was looking at showed me all the opportunities I missed while walking around in a self prescribed funk.

<a href="Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2010: The Travel Skills Handbook
“>Rick Steves says it best:
“Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something’s not to your liking, change your liking.”

I still regret that I didn’t take all the opportunities Prague had to offer and I wished my time away there. That feeling and the quote about being militantly optimistic has given me a new outlook on my life which pays off at times like this–when I’m not feeling too particularly enthusiastic about events in my life. Not that I don’t love the beach, or our days here…but figuring out the RV situation is a challenge that I’m slow to figuring out. Moving away from friends and a strong homeschooling community is rough. I miss my house. These are all good reasons to feel badly, but I’m haunted by the thought that I’ll miss the magic happening right now if I dwell on all that.

So, fanatically positive it is! Militantly optimistic is the order of the day. Carpe diem, right?!


10 Responses

  1. living with parents + Budapest = cheap = moving there. We have sooo much in common 😛

  2. Seize the day!!! If it hails, eat ice. Best wishes!

  3. I LOVE that quote…it’s so true. We’ve lived through our share of “disasters” on the road, and have learned to expect things to go wrong. A positive attitude is a requirement for a travelin’ life! 🙂

  4. Awww Tiff – growing pains are tough. When we moved from CA to CO – we were in a tiny apt – for longer than we’d planned and I was miserable. I’m glad you have the perspective you do – from the get-go. I pray you make friends fast and furiously and that we internets can help your transition.

  5. It doesn’t have to be permanent. Will it help if you see it that way? You can always move back to CO and get another house. Just see this as a long vacation. Of course you miss your friends!! You will make new ones too.
    Think of what an adjustment it was when you first became a mother. And after a while you got used to it and came to love it, although at first it probably felt crazy and you might have wondered what you got yourself into!
    I love your attitude, so keep reminding yourself to enjoy it. It will take a while to adjust but I know you can do it!!! I think your kids will always remember this. You aren’t distracted by the computer, dishes, vacuuming, laundry, bills, etc. You are fully present. We all need to be that way more often!!

  6. Love that quote! (I had to write it down!) It’s a great metaphor and advice for life, not just travel.

    Missing you tons in Colorado!

    • That quote has gotten me through many a tough time!

      I miss you tons. But when I last checked the weather it was 75 degrees here and 18 degrees there–that I don’t miss!

  7. The saddest part of this post for me? That you had to wait until you got back to the US to develop your pictures. gasp! That is almost too much for me to bear.

    And anytime you’re missing your house you can come clean mine and I’ll go sit on the beach. Deal?

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