We decided to visit Cesky Raj one weekend & arranged to take an early train into the countryside. When I woke up within our sea of cozy blankets & pillows that morning, it was still dark & quiet outside.
& I liked that.
Even as a child, I took the stillness & black of early mornings as a significant indicator that something exciting was on the horizon. There was always an unknown feeling of mystery, back when I was younger, when being woken up in the tiny hours of the morning for a long trip. & that morning before our hike held the same magic for me. As sleepy as I felt, I was full of eager anticipation.
We walked down the silent streets of Prague with our backpacks strapped on tight. We stopped for coffee, hot chocolate, & bought some warm wooly socks from a street vendor before hopping on our metro to the central train station. The train ride through the city buildings was beautiful & we watched the sun slowly rise & trickle into the sleeping city with hues of light blue. As we sat beside each other within our compartment, Dan pulled out a splitter & we both listened to the new Jimmy Eat World album as the train rolled & hummed along the tracks into the country.
Our hike started at the base of a small farming village, with loud school children gathered at the train’s platform as we stepped off into the rainy weather. The trails were muddy & rain sprinkled on our heads, but to me it was completely perfect. The peaceful winding paths took us through villages lined with storybook cottages & rolling hillsides of cow herds & sheep. The falling rain saturated each orange, yellow, & red leaf that painted each tree & carpeted the forest floor; filling the air with the glorious fall smell of wet earth. We passed castle upon castle (most of them closed for the winter season) & felt very much transported in time, as if we had stepped back into centuries past. We hiked for the entire day, climbing up stone steps & ambling across rocks & dirt. We stopped for a small Czech picnic lunch of assorted meat, cheese, bread, & beer; & sat with tired legs & flushed cheeks.
These small trips we take within the Czech Republic, especially our trip to Cesky Raj, create precious memories for me. I’m able to step back from my routine in the city & see the countryside of Europe with a fresh perspective. I’m more aware of the differences I see between my home in the United States & my home here across the ocean. Hiking across a pasture or wandering new roads allows me to ponder the treasures of what each home has brought to me within my life & how I’m deeply affected by each one.