Friday, August 14, 2009


Life is good when one of your most favorite friends invites you to share her five-star hotel in a beautiful European capital city because she’s there for work and you have the time and say why not? and scoot off to Prague for a few days.

Life is definitely good. The office is closed. All of France is on vacation. The weather has been perfect. I’ve been eating delicious dinners and sweets, biking around Paris, hiking around Prague, sleeping, relaxing, reading. I am smiling.

Alex and I flew to Prague on Sunday night after a fast but perfectly balanced weekend in Paris. In addition to Saturday’s adventures in biking and eating, we brunched at Chez Janou, poked around the Marais and then pedaled over to the Cartier Fondation—one of my favorite spots in Paris—for the graffiti exhibition, Born in the Streets. I sort of wanted to hate the exhibition (graffiti?? really?), but it was pretty great. The curators did a brilliant job of tracing the movement and the original graffiti artists, and having a multimedia experience that made it all but impossible to refute that graffiti is indeed an art and has defined a couple generations around the world now.

So with those deep thoughts in my brain and some Haribo gummies in my travel bag, we set off. The decadence began with our airport transfer. Alex had phoned the Mandarin Oriental to get a car to pick us up when we landed. Said car was a shiny black Mercedes sedan, with wet hand towels and bottles of water for our travel-weary selves. It made the drive to the hotel a treat in and of itself. After a hot shower, I fell into the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in, with pillows to die for, and slept for over nine hours. Sigh.

Prague is a beautiful city. It’s fairy tale beautiful.

But for better or worse, there’s no great shopping or museums (aside from the Kampa) so the days were spent wandering around, either with Alex or solo when she was working.

From Malá Strana, I hiked up to the Prague Castle past a monastery and this wonderful orchard filled with apple and pear trees and blackberry bushes. So cool to see those things in the middle of a city.

I do like Prague’s bohemian charms. Just little things like the marionette shops and produce markets.

Because the hotel was in the same neighborhood, I walked by the John Lennon wall several times.

We had a couple amazing dinners, including one at La Finestra, an Italian place that’s the sister restaurant to Aromi, where I ate with Dad, Chris and Dana when they were living there. I had the best bass of my life at Aromi so I felt compelled to get seafood again. I went with grilled octopus, which consisted of two long tentacles that came on a ginormous platter. I think it turned Alex’s stomach, but they were utterly delicious. Besides, her ragout had rabbit in it.

Before I left town, I indulged in a couple treatments at the Mandarin Oriental spa (I’m telling you, life is good) and saw Gehry’s Dancing House from across the Vltava and a powerful sculpture/memorial to all the victims of Czechoslovakia’s communism rule.

The only thing that would have perfected the trip was if we had had a Madonna sighting. Despite our hotel lobby lurking, bordering on stalking, we didn’t see Madge, who was also staying at the Mandarin.

Thanks, Alex!

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