Birthday at the Brewery
Last Thursday I turned 23 and experienced my first birthday abroad. After 6 months of winter, we had 80 degree weather for the first time since September – a good omen. There is something about having Cali weather that really brightens my day. Every time a ray of sunshine landed on me in class, I couldn’t help but smile and do a little happy dance. At school we had a mini party with cake during our main coffee break. In addition to their many kind words, the teachers also surprised me with chocolate, a homemade cake, flowers, and Prague Winter, a book by Madeleine Albright. I had two enjoyable English classes and two PE classes outside where we played softball and track and field. It felt really nice to spend half of my day out in the sunshine playing with the kids.
In the afternoon, I met up with my Czech teacher and we went to a new cafe in Nymburk called Luna. Since it was such a beautiful afternoon we spent a very enjoyable hour outside on the patio. I was able to showcase my Czech with the waiter. He spoke perfect English so it wasn’t necessary, but I think he got a kick out of my rather feeble attempts.
After coffee, I headed to my conversation group where one of my students surprised me with a homemade New York style cheesecake with strawberries. I had mentioned in a previous lesson that I loved cheesecake and they remembered! We had another mini party during our lesson and enjoyed this delicious cheesecake together.
Finally, that night I went to a play in my town called Pasáci a Hadi (pimps and snakes?). It was really nice because there were people from all of my various activities there including students, teachers, and basketball players. I was confused probably about 80% of the time, but it was still really funny and interesting to watch. It was a nice ending to a perfect day.
The following day I headed to Prague to pick up my friend Jeannie who was visiting me this weekend. Jeannie and I go way back to my days at San Diego High School so I was really glad that she came to spend my birthday with me. The Czech Republic was the last stop on her mini Euro trip that she took before she moves to Austria. I took her on the usual tour of the Prague castle, Charles bridge, Old Town square and Wenceslas square. Because the weather was so nice we did spend quite a lot of time just lounging in the sun and enjoying each other’s company. That night we headed back to Nymburk and ended up having late night kabobs for dinner in my deserted town square. She was surprised that Nymburk was such a ghost town on a Friday night but with a town of 15,000 people it’s to be expected.
The next day my friends from Fulbright began arriving for my birthday celebration. First we went to lunch at U Vodarny and had a wonderful Czech meal outside. Next we took a leisurely walk to the Postriziny brewery in my town for a private tour and free beer afterwards. Since it was a beautiful day outside we decided to sit outside and sample the different types of beer on the grass.
We opted for an early dinner at my favorite restaurant U Gregorů. I urged Jeannie to try svickova, a typical Czech dish but I of course had gulas! After dinner we headed back to my flat where everyone sang me happy birthday and we had cake.
Later that evening my friends and I met up with two of my friends that I met through basketball at a local pub. I was really glad to be able to spend time with them because I don’t see them very often. One of my friends is studying in Poland and she had a few classmates visiting her this weekend as well. The ten of us enjoyed a few drinks and then headed to the one club in town where I was mistaken for a 17 year old. Apart from this misunderstanding I had a great time. The DJ really catered to us and played not only hip hop but really good hip hop from back in the day. At around 2:00am we headed back to my flat and pretty much all fell asleep immediately.
The following day, Jeannie, Miriam, and I went to Kutna Hora for a short day trip. We visited the ossuary, which is a church filled with the bones of 40,000 skeletons. I have been to Kutna Hora many times before so I gave the other two a quick tour of the town. It was so unbelievable cold that it was difficult to stay outside for very long, so after lunch we headed back home.
I had a really wonderful birthday thanks to my family, friends, coworkers, and students. It is nice to feel so loved so far away from home. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such an awesome community here in the Czech Republic! For some reason I am really excited about being this new age. As my mom would say “22 it was about you, 23 its all about me.” I plan to live up to this motto and make the last year of my early twenties count.