Perfect Spots in Prague: Klánovický Les (Forest in Klánovice)

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: Klánovický Les (Forest in Klánovice)

Just around 25 minutes by train from the city center, at the eastern edge of Prague, there is a beautiful old quarter of villas dated back to the time of the first republic and surrounded by perfectly charming forest. The best connection to get there is simply to hop on S1 train on Masarykovo nádraží. You can enjoy a fantastic view from the window on the way and after about 25 minutes, you will get off the train on a stop called “Praha-Klánovice”. You will notice the forest outside the window yourself before you get there.

For me, this forest means childhood, games and visits at my grandma’s place. We used to go out with her and our grandpa, looked for the eatable mushrooms and my grandma never forget to carry surprise candies for us in her pocket. These were the times of innocence. ^^ Despite the fact that Klánovický les is grown for forest farming purposes, it remains to be as magical as I remember it to be.

A walk in Klánovice can be exciting on its own, especially if you admire old houses and villas from the beginning of the 20th century. There is lot to see and lot to admire and walking through the streets of Klánovice can ignite a spark of inspiration for your art. After all, the same can be said about the forest as well.

The forest is huge, and you can choose any direction you prefer for your walk – go west and your journey will lead you to Běchovice or Xaverov. Go east, and you can end up in Jirny or Úvaly. Go south and you will learn more about Újezd nad Lesy.

Don’t worry though, if you get lost, all of these points are easily accessible by public transport and Praha-Běchovice and Úvaly are also stops on the same line of S1 train. The paths in the forest are mostly arranged in a grid street manner so it should be easy to get a sense of direction. The forest is also crossed by the above-mentioned railway which can serve as a point of direction as well.

Forest in Klánovice remains an easily accessible area for connecting with nature for me. You will encounter lots of walkers, runners and families with small children as well, which just validates my words. Give it a try and you will see how charming the forest at the outskirt of Prague can be!

Positive Diary #25 – Meeting with friends

13th January – This last year was hard when it comes to meeting the people we love, too. That is why we have to appreciate and nurture every moment and every opportunity to see our loved ones which we get. Today, I am profoundly greateful for my friends and for being able to meet my all time favorite and oldest friend @kamisart.

We are in the middle of a mild lockdown here in Czech Republic but a little outside meeting for two people is still allowed. And since I haven’t seen my gal-in-fiyah for so long, and we didn’t have the opportunity to follow our Christmas meeting tradition this year, we took an advantage of this possibility. And it was great, as anticipated!

When you have only two hours before the curfew starts, you try to use every minute as meaningfully as possible. But in the end, you end up babbling something about personal growth and self-love while swiftly walking along the riverbank while trying not to freeze. And actually, these were the powerful words we needed to hear and tell and I am so grateful for this opportunity to share it with each other! These moments are priceless.

So, I just want to stress here the importance of these fleeting moments of perfection with people we love. I know we all realize this importance more and more, given the awful year of 2020. Just remember there is no need to dwell. You can see your loved ones at least for a while outside and if not, give them a call. A videocall. Send them a voice message. If you want to tell them how special they are, how much you are thinking about them, how much you miss the old days...

Don’t wait it out, let them know and brighten the day for them and for yourself as well!

Here is to friends and the loved ones!

Cherrish them, while you can ❤

3 Tips on Meaningful Christmas Gifts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This year the question of where we spend our money for Christmas gifts in feels somehow more important than in the previous years. It is mostly because we can see every day the small shops are forced to close when the bigger ones are still thriving. But there can be also another aspect; we had time to reflect this year and we don’t want to spent money on impersonal items financing other being’s suffering.

I decided to try the other way around and I have some tips if you want to try it too!

1. Local (and global) handcrafters

There is nothing like handmade product when you want to give something really special and unique to your loved ones. And we have perfect tools to support skillful handcrafters all around the world. Since the Christmas are slowly approaching, I’d suggest you find someone local, otherwise you won’t ever know if the present will arrive on time, and check some of the websites made for these small online shops.

I personally have experiences with buying via Etsy.com and Fler.cz and I got beautiful items every time from each of the individual sellers. It is of course good to properly check reviews of other buyers, but you probably already know the drill.

So, just remember – when buying from a big international company, you support their shares, when buying from a small handcrafter, you support their dreams. By buying from small local sellers, you will make people happy multiple times: yourself for supporting an idea with a soul, the giftee, and the seller him- or herself. And aren’t Christmas about making people happy?

Where to look:

Etsy.com – a worldwide platform that gathers handcrafters and their shops on one place. You can find real jewels over there.

Fler.cz – a Czech platform that gathers handcrafters and their shops on one place. The site might not be that user friendly, but you can find real treasures over there, exactly as on Etsy.

You will find thousands and thousands of cute tiny shops on these sites. And if you are from another country, maybe dig deeper to find out if you have a local version of Etsy too.

2. Non-profit organizations

There is plenty of those and we all focus on different things, different problems make us go crazy or cry. Because of my background, it is always an environmental problem that makes me sick. And based on that, I support or follow on social media those non-profit organizations that focus on planting trees, cleaning the oceans or protecting animals. For other people, it could be something else – human rights, children in Africa, projects aiming at raising the quality of education in third-world countries or maybe fonds carrying about history heritage and so on.

And those organizations need funding. Sometimes, you will get a certificate, other times you can buy some cute merchandising, sometimes you can choose. I prefer support via merch, especially when it comes to giving presents because I know some people would just not appreciate receiving a certificate about helping others. But, when you find a cute merch which helps to fund a good cause, it is a win-win-win situation for everyone, again.

My personal favorites:

Sea Shepherd – an organization that aims to protect marine wildlife.

4Ocean – an organization that aims to clean the oceans from plastic and other kinds of pollution.

Dogpoint – my favorite Czech dog shelter. By buying products from their online shop, you help them to fund the shelter. Our Bucky comes from Dogpoint and I know personally that people who run the place are kind, caring and selfless.

3. Non-profit organizations that support local handcrafting

Yup, it is a combination of the first two^^. But let’s say you will find an organization whose main aim is to help seniors to have decent lives via knitting socks or handcrafting other stuff. You can buy those later and support the seniors themselves. In Czech Republic, Elpida is one of those projects. You can choose between variety of products that are handmade with love, support a good cause and have a cute, good quality product for yourself and your loved ones (because, let’s face it, you will want one pair for yourself as well^^).

I bet there is plenty of project as these, the only thing it will take is for you to do a little digging. You might be surprised how many good-deeds organizations grew around you and the only hard part for you is to choose which one to support.

My personal favorites:

Elpida Shop – knitted socks by grandmas.

Treecelet – an organization that sells bracelets and other merchandising including water bottles, T-shirts etc. The revenue from the sale is going to other non-profit organizations that focuses on protection and renewing of rain forests. Treecelet also gives a job opportunity to locals who actually create those bracelets for you. So, in this case, we can talk about win-win-win-win situation. And I love it!

.

I will be definitely talking more about these organizations in the future and I hope I will encounter more of these. If your interest isn’t in the field of environmental problems, I bet you will easily find other projects that focuses on problems which you personally see as the most threating.

By supporting those organizations or small handcrafters, instead of buying a soulless item in the mall, you will give a purpose to your money, you will give means to the project you admire, and you will gift your loved ones with something that has soul and has been created mindfully with love.

Isn’t it what the Christmas are about in the first place? 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

The Positive Diary #18 – All the useful stuff

16th April – For the most of us, the current pandemic means restraints of freedom. We can’t go out whenever and wherever we want, some of us has lost their jobs, others lost a connection to their coworkers in offices as they are forced to work from home office. We cannot go to trips we planned, to concerts we paid for. We don’t even dare to dream about the future because we don’t exactly know, how it will look like. The traps of our mind, fears and regrets, might feel eternal, real and hopeless. I know it is hard, especially for some of us.

But hey, we are living in a time of great freedom and endless possibilities thanks to new gadgets and, especially, the Internet. Just look around… Do you feel lonely? You can connect to Discord or Skype and spend hours on the call with your friends and family. Is it still not enough? You can play together, wander through the Elwynn Forest or under the open skies of Middle-earth, or if you know more games than me, you can wander everywhere. And be safe.

Would you like to see a movie? And Netflix is not enough anymore? Well, there is HBO, Prime and many other different platforms. You just have to choose and enjoy it. Is it not the same without the popcorn and trashy people in a cinema? You can always make an online order and your precious popcorn will arrive. And if you really need someone to talk during a movie you want to see, you can go back to the first paragraph and try to call some of your friends.

Do you feel melancholically? Why won’t you listen to some of your favorite music? It is not the same as when you are on the go and you listen to it while being active every day, but it can definitely bring you those memories back. And the feelings you have when you listen to your favorite music, these won’t go away. Also, while listening to it at home and in no rush, you might notice, discover new aspects of these songs. All of the options of how we can listen to and approach to music have their own benefits.

Or maybe, you feel down and overwhelmed. The world seems to be falling apart, and you have no control over it. Luckily, there is plenty of useful mindfulness apps and even free YouTube meditation lessons online. You can just comfortably sit or lay on the mat and let these short voice recordings to calm you down. Maybe, you are too skeptical about trying it, but trust me, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain. If you can spare just ten minutes to give it a try, you will see for yourself.

Okay, maybe enough of fun. The TV shows are all the same, nothing can surprise you anymore and you feel empty and bored. Maybe it is a sign that you’ve had enough of fun and you are ready to work on your skills. I bet there is something, anything, you were hoping to learn for a long time now, but you never had the energy nor the time to give it a proper try. Well, guess what – this is the time we were all waiting for! If you belong to the lucky ones, who can work from home, keep their salaries, but still have an excessive amount of free time left, you can purchase some of the online lessons. I shared a subscription of MasterClass with my brother, but you can find whichever class or platform you like and get dedicated to fulfilling your dreams. There is many free “how to” and “DIY” videos on YouTube, you can try Patreon, Skillshare, whatever suits you better. Just go and give it a try.

Maybe the lessons are too much for you. Maybe all you wanted was time to practice your craft. Practice your writing, cooking, drawing, sewing, whichever skill you have and want to evolve. Because you have time to do it now.

The whole day sitting can also numb your senses, your will to enjoy the life. Luckily, you can always go to YouTube, Patreon or use any sport dedicated web or app to add a little more movement to your life. Yoga, pilates, dancing classes, shredding classes, whatever you prefer, it is there, just within a reach of you hand.

If you are tired of all those online activities, you can always grab a book you wanted to read for so long but never managed to merge entirely into it. Now you have the time. Jump into the story and let it to take you away. That is one of books’ magic purposes. They can also slow your overthinking patterns and calm you down, easily and naturally rock you to sleep.

 

I know times are hard and becoming even harder the longer they continue. I myself am having anxiety attacks when looking into future or just when I follow the news. It is overwhelming, even for a person who can easily work from home. But, as in other tough times and situations, I need to see the positive sides of this situation too. And when I look around, I see a lot. Despite the situation, internally, I have never been happier.

 

So now, just fix the outside world and we are done, right? Right.

 

Have a lovely day.

 

Yours,

 

Wicked and Clever

 

Šárka

 

DSC_0454_Fotor

Held captive.

She inhaled, deeply. Once again. The pain laying on her shoulders loosened. With the light-bearer by her side, every thought was lighter, every feeling more bearable, every nightmare survivable. Still, there were moments, glimpses of her past, memories, which held her captive inside the labyrinth of her deepest fears.

It seems like we are always drawn back, we are always held captive by our past mistakes. By our foregone attempts to live, genuinely, she thought herself.

On some days, fights were easy to win. But on other days, she was so annoyed by the amount of damage that was still present in her life that the fights were burning up her whole energy.

But it’s always a victory. Unless you stop fighting, she nodded and gave a shining smile to the light-bearer, who sat quietly next to her and carefully observed every single thought mirrored on her face.

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.

The Positive Diary #11 – Grandmas and wine

16th November 2018Work weeks can be harsh. Especially when you have to go against your natural biorhythm in order to secure yourself an extra free Friday. I am a born night owl and therefore waking up at 5 A.M. means basically that I have to wake up at the same time I would prefer to go to bed instead. Thus, the first half of a week doesn’t work well for me – I am basically too tired to do anything – to study, to write, to create, even just to post on Instagram. I usually only focus on surviving these hours between the time I wake up and the time I jump back into my bed. It feels like a complete waste of time and it makes me feel distorted, useless and lost.

And then, the Friday comes.

Fridays are usually these only cheat days on which I let myself rest for a while. For example, I usually hate when I spend too much time on social media or when I watch a TV show the entire day but on Fridays, I try not to freak out about it so much if it happens. But luckily, today wasn’t that day.

I slept a great amount of time, just to wake up refreshed and happy, surrounded by my two chihuahuas. I made myself a healthy, nutritious and yummy breakfast and then I took a wonderful autumn walk through our two lovely villages in order to take a train. I wanted to visit my grandma after somewhat long time and enjoy the time and chat with her. I guess, when you have the coolest grandma, living in the most magical house with the most beautiful enchanted garden, there is no other place and no other person with whom you would rather spent your time and caught your breath.

I am so grateful for having such a charming and tough lady for a grandma. We always talk some old and well discussed stories through once again and I eat disturbingly too much of a cake she baked for us. And once we open a bottle of wine, I always learn something very new from my grandma’s youth. I couldn’t be more excited and fascinated by her stories! I listen with a great smile on my face and once again, I wish to borrow a Tardis from the Doctor so I could pick up my mum and my grandma when they were both seventeen and take them to party to Woodstock. That would have been something!

I am currently reading a book called Women Who Run the Wolves and I believe it is one of the main factors behind the great change of my attitude towards my feminine side. I also believe this change made me to see today my grandma not only as a caring energetic old lady, or a mother who lost her child, but also as a young rebellious girl and a grown-up self-confident young woman who isn’t afraid of anything. This mighty picture of my grandma gives me a pride stronger then ever that I, right me and no one else, am a granddaughter of hers. I am the one who bares the light and the resilience of women from our family towards the future.

While thinking about the life of my grandma, I always felt I wanted to be just like her. And I always wanted to be just like my mum, too. Now, when I’m older and I have a very different perspective than I used to have when I was fifteen, I can see that despite their quarrels and disputes, my mum and my grandma weren’t that different as it might have seemed in the past.

So, today I just wanted to express how grateful I am for being a successor of a feminine power in our family. I will hope I will manage to recall this pride and this feeling of belonging once the dark days come to me once again.

How do you honor your elders? Do you like to listen to their stories? Do you, too, imagine what a life must have been like when they were at your age?

Let me know and enjoy your weekend!

With love

Wicked And Clever

Šárka

The Positive Diary #9 – Czech medical care

20th October 2018 – Dear Diary, it has been a while, again. This last week was quite a mess. I turned twenty-six last Sunday and since then, everything went downhill. Not only I have found out about the inconvenient of studying while being older than 25, my younger brother, the light of my life and my very best friend, found out that he has a type 1 diabetes. What a shock it was, considering he is about to turn twenty-one next March. To my great surprise, today in my positive diary, I want to talk about medical care here, in Czech Republic.

 

When our mum died, I was so furious about the same system. After what felt like ages, during which my mum was told from various doctors that she is totally okay and if she feels bad, it is probably because she fakes it, she was hospitalized and two months later, she passed away. I was fifteen then and I wasn’t able to understand how this could have happened. I was angry as I was never before. Since then, I always considered your days over once the medical system gets you. I am much older now and, not only based on our latest experience, I have to admit that even here it depends on the people you encounter on your journey, as almost in every case in one’s life. (Also, our mum’s disease was quite rare.)

 

Visits at hospital can be harsh. I know it myself from the visits of my grandpa, as he was fighting a lung cancer, and I know it from the look on faces of my grandparents, as they were coming home from the hospital in the final stage of my mum’s disease. But this time, I was pleasantly surprised, as everyone – nurses, doctors, nuns, and other nursing stuff – was always smiling at us, always eager to explain what bothered us, always happy to answer the dumbest questions of ours.

 

Therefore, today I want to say how grateful I am that my brother was so lucky. I am also grateful that he discovered this freaking disease early enough and thus, there was less space left for the disease to start mess with his body in a hard way. I am so proud and so happy I have my wonderful brother and also satisfied I was able to be with him during those crazy days. (And to freak out about it, just a little bit. O:) )

 

 

Take care until the next time!

With love

 

Wicked And Clever

 

Šárka