Perfect Spots in Prague: Vrtbovská zahrada (The Vrtba Garden)

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling, when you move to the city in order to live and work here, or when you simply get stuck here as an expat in Prague due to the infamous coronavirus, you could (and should) discover there is so much more to see. And that these places are way better than the usual touristy places.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vrtbovská zahrada (The Vrtba Garden)

This might come to you as a surprise, but I learned about this treasure hidden right in the heart of the city from my American best friend whom I was so lucky to meet through an exchange buddy program during my studies. She had a professor at Charles’ who probably knew Prague perfectly and recommended her this Vrtba garden, which I of course never heard of before, right next to Malostranské náměstí. She asked me if I’d like to join her and the journey began.

The first part of the adventure with Vrtbovská zahrada is actually the effort you have to make to find it. It’s hidden almost perfectly, and no big ugly sign will scream on you, so it might to take you several walks along the busy Karmelitská street before you actually notice the entrance. Inconspicuous doorway will take you right into the block of recognizable baroque buildings of Prague’s center. In the main hall, you will pay an admission fee, which varies between 80 to 100 crowns, depending on whether you are adult, senior, junior and so on, you know the drill. 

And then, you can finally enter.

I was so surprised to see such noble beauty can sprout in the middle of a city I used to think I know. Although I prefer the untamed beauty of wild nature, this was (and still is) worth seeing. The garden stretches more in height then width and this simply adds more uniqueness and a dreamlike touch to the actual experience of discovering the place itself. You rise, level by level, up up up, until you see the city from an angle you have never seen it before from. And it’s breathtaking.

The Vrtba Garden is, like most of Prague’s gardens, best to visit during the spring, summer and autumn time, since it stays closed from November to March. It’s unique position in the middle of the city center, ability to stay hidden, like a secret whispered in the wind, and relatively low admission fees make this a perfect spot, whether you want to run away from the world or just to see another nice corner of it.

How I started to run

Running. Everyone is running. Running is the new black. 

It seemed to me like one of the signs of successful people, no matter what they were successful in. I always wanted to run but my efforts every time got me before I even started. Therefore, I also admired people who run, it’s simple: if they can overcome this suffering and sustain this pain for so long, they definitely have the stronger will then I do. And then, you know how these thoughts can spin around your head and create a personal picture of yourself, where you seem to be not focused, not strong enough and not dedicated enough. What is more dangerous, when those thoughts start to pour into other dimensions of your life, into your beliefs of your own capabilities and into your self-esteem in general. It takes more than that, of course, but it can be one of those doubting sources for pour thinking about yourself. Yeah, self-doubt is almost like my guilty pleasure.

So, you can easily imagine my surprise, when I got some nice equipment (a watch, actually) and a proper partner, and I gave it a try. And it worked. I was able to run along my personal training program and I didn’t want to die after that. Moreover, after the run and a shower, I felt as energized and powerful as almost never before. How is that even possible?

Like in many other areas of my life, I see part of the answer to this question in my own perfectionism. And stubbornness. I always thought that when I go out and aim to run, I should run for the whole time. Even for the first time. And when I had to slow down to walking so I could catch my breath, I perceived that as a weakness, as something given and unchangeable. My first and almost immediate response was: “Okay, I’m not good enough. I should stop making a joke out of myself and stop with this nonsense.” And of course, I used my stubbornness for making me actually believe that and never try it again. I could have use it to become better in running, actually, but that would be a totally different person.

I basically needed someone kind to explain me, that even running needs time to learn it properly and that my body needs training to adjust in order to reach my goal, which, let’s admit it, wasn’t exactly unreachable. Last year was one of the hardest ones, but also the luckiest one, because I have actually met this kind person and fallen in love with him. Sportsman by his heart and soul, dedicated runner. He introduced me to this idea slowly (he recognized my stubbornness too, haha) and I started to wonder, really slowly: Should I give it another try?

Another observation I made in this matter is, that you need two things: an authority to follow in your training and a way to see how you progress. I found this on a recommendation of my kind one in sport watch from Garmin. Not only they can show you how you improved physically (like how fast you run or how was your heartbeat during different stages of the run) and help you to improve your sleeping cycles or stress management, these can tailor you a nice running plan to help you accomplish your goals. For me, someone who never run properly before but prefers to not to ask anyone for professional advice, this is just revolutionary. And suddenly, I have my authority and progress, peacefully resting literally within reach of my arm.

After two weeks of running, I dare to say – running is awesome! It is good for your body, for your digestion, skin, muscles, posture and everything, but also for your soul, because you can feel super energized afterwards, have this sense of accomplishment and notion that you did something right for yourself. I start to feel my knees though, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to not to have to stop with it. Hopefully, a proper pair of shoes and a right technique will do the trick.

How about you, do you like running? Do you hate it? Any tips for hurting knees? 

The Positive Diary #17 – Spring, here and now

12th April – I know. This year started with many obstacles. For many people around the world, this has been a nightmare. And still is. Whether you lost someone to the virus, or you are struggling with money during the time when everything is closed in order to slow down the pace of virus’s spreading, I feel for you and I am truly sorry you have to go through this.

For me, personally, my biggest fear coming from the current pandemic situationis a worry about losing freedom, losing basic human rights, and relying on politicians who can easily bring us back to the dark ages.And for a long time… But I don’t want to talk about it now. Maybe, I will get back to it soon. This space is dedicated to enjoying bits of happiness, focusing on the things we need to be grateful for, even in the darker times. For me, this situation, when we are all being forced to stay at home, has brought many benefitsas well.

And today, I want to talk about the most basic one. It is one of the things which our profit-centered, capitalistic society is stealing away from usand also, one of the things we can fully appreciate now, when we are not allowed to chase after money and business-importance every day. There is quite few of those stolen aspects of life and I hope I will get back to all of them soon. Today, I want to talk about spring.

How many times in the last couple of years you felt the desperate need for summer, for spring, for sun rays, at the end of a long winter? It is always there. We are forced to sit in the office, the blinds on the windows are closed because we wouldn’t see on the monitors otherwise, and the day light is so rare. We are thirsty for vitamin D; we are thirsty for light; we are thirsty for fresh air. Right? But then, when the spring finally sprouts, we are still forced to live our fast, meaningless lives and before we know it, the spring is gone.

I don’t know about you, but for me, spring is undoubtedly the most favorite season of a year. Those smells, those colors, those sounds! I think I can be forever in love with spring. Everything is fresh and new and you yourself can clean up some things inside you that have been bothering you for some time. Especially for those, who are not entirely disconnected from nature herself, it is a time of new beginnings, new adventures, new reconnections, because this is how it goes naturally, outside of our human world as well.

If I say our civilization deprived us of spring, I’m not exaggerating that much. But now, the situation is different. Even the privileges of our civilization had to step aside and the concern over public health took over. And since we now prioritize our collective health, why won’t we include this? Spring. Going outside, even with the mask on, for a walk between the fields, to the forest, sitting on a garden, balcony or even just next to an opened window; and seeing all the leaves sprouting out, hearing all those bees and bumblebees, being able to smell the blossoming cherry trees – that is something almost invaluable in terms of our usual way of thinking. For me, it even makes up for the canceled vacation we were supposed to take off to in one week.

I am not saying the world situation is easy right now, I know it is not. But I am grateful for the lemonade I can make from those lemons life is throwing at us. Focusing on the better side of things will help us to make it through the tough times, let’s not forget that. That is why I am hoping to restore my positive diary writings and to add even more value to my blogs.

After all, it is spring. The time of new beginnings and new reconnections.

So, if you can, enjoy this time and make the most out of it!

 

Yours,

Wicked and clever

Šárka

 

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Perfect Spots in Prague: Vítkov Hill

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling or when you move to the city in order to live and work here, you will discover there is much more to see. And that these places are way better than classical crowded touristy spots.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vítkov Hill

National Memorial on Vítkov Hill and the giant statue of Jan Žižka standing right in front of it are visible and recognizable from various different corners of Prague. I remember it was always one of the points of orientation while maneuvering throughout the city, even when I was a kid and later, in my teenage years. Especially, when we were coming home from faraway places, I knew, when I saw the statue and the hill, I was close.

It was many years after that, when I first started to see the place as a perfect venue for meeting my friends and family. As a place where you can just chill, hang out and forget about the buzzing life you left down there, under the hill. Because almost all roads lead to Vítkov, it is easily accessible from various different quarters: from Karlín via stairs starting on Invalidovna or via the tunnel coming right through the hill from near the Karlínské náměstí; from Žižkov by just walking or from the city center via the secret shortcut between train stations Masarykovo and Hlavní nádraží connected to a cycleway and, you guessed it, some other stairs.

You can tell a lot from this description – first of all, you get pretty sweaty while reaching the top of the hill, especially during the long hot summer days. It is fun to see how your physical fitness is slowly declining as you spend more and more hours in the office. But that is also a good reason not to skip this trip! But secondly, the view from the top is just spectacular. I cannot just have enough of it. Because the place is visible from many spots in Prague, you can see almost the entire Prague from up here as well. That is quite logical, right? And it is definitely worth all the effort.

There is a lovely park behind the monument with many benches to sit on and it is also a favorite place for many sportsmen and sportswomen – for jogging and training under the open sky. What I personally love the most is to sit on the low wall surrounding the monument, observe everyone and everything and the whole city along all of it and chat with any of the precious beings I know.

Vítkov is basically one of the last places in Prague that were able to defend its charms, place that is quiet, peaceful and adorable and what is more, you can see the city you love from up here in its whole beauty. So please, while visiting, try to hold on to it and enjoy it. Staying humble while facing the greatness such as this one is also a part of the experience.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Kasárna Karlín

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling or when you move to the city in order to live and work here, you will discover there is much more to see. And that these places are way better than classical crowded touristy spots.

 

Perfect Spots in Prague: Kasárna Karlín

Kasárna Karlín is a place which I have been thinking about for a while now, but I got to the visiting of the spot just recently. As I was starting my new life, I went to grab a beer with my new colleagues from my new job. Kasárna Karlín are basically former barracks situated near Florenc metro station in Prague 8. The place has some wibbly wobbly bewitched history with attempted privatization in the recent years. All you need to know though, is that so far, the whole building has been temporarily rented to a group of artists who promised to transform this forgotten yet remarkable place into a venue for cultural events and spot for people to meet in an informal atmosphere. And this promise was fulfilled on a 1000%!

Not only there is a plenty of tiny bars and businesses where you can taste lots of different and unusual kinds of beer and drinks, they also have draught cider (which is still not very common in Czech Republic). But there is also a volleyball field and many interesting cultural events take place here as well, such as open-air cinema, slam poetry events, public debates, yoga fest and much more.

If you are here to taste the mood of Prague or if you are working the whole day and you want to chill within the picturesque scenery of a remarkable classicist building with interesting history and strong genius loci, Kasárna Karlín is one of the places you should definitely not skip.