When Hailey came to stay

I woke up this Saturday a little bleary, surprised to find a fluffy white blanket had accumulated in the few short hours since I trekked home after a very late evening of unplanned shenanigans. My head pounded as I dragged my limp body around my room trying to put it in order to accommodate a guest, and the snow was still coming down strong as I boarded the 191 bus to once again make the long pilgrimage to Vaclav Havel airport.

I didn’t have to wait long before Hailey’s radiant face came trooping out from the arrivals gate. On the bus ride back to my apartment, she filled me in on all she’d done during the first week and a half of her study abroad program,* and after a quick lunch of chili at my place, we set out into the city, which was stunning in four inches of snow.

Our first destination was Petřìn Hill, a part of town I’ve been meaning to visit for ages as it’s said to provide the very best aerial view of the city. It did not disappoint. We hiked along the famous Hunger Wall, met a friendly kitty, and visited the Magical Cavern, a cavelike art gallery full of one man’s DeviantArt-style oil paintings. As far as we could tell, the building doubles as the artist’s home, and he offers unlimited hot wine and blasts Enya to heighten the mystical mood.

Descending from the hill proved a bit of a challenge, as none of the pathways had been cleared, and Hailey took a few spills, but after much tribulation, we made it to Malà Strana. We wandered around for a while, visiting the Lennon Wall, exploring tiny side streets and canals of Kampa, and crossing the Charles Bridge, which was beyond romantic in the moonlight. We ended the night with a delightful dinner at a restaurant with large selection of gluten-free traditional Czech dishes where Hailey had her first beer!!! She didn’t like it.

Sunday was a full day. We woke up early and went to breakfast at Café Savoy, a gorgeous Art Nouveau restaurant that I’d been dying to try for ages. Then we trooped up to Prague Castle, which was, as it always is, a great time. After a much-needed coffee break, we ventured up to DOX, the contemporary art museum in Prague, for a special exhibit called Brave New World, comparing the fictional worlds of Huxley, Bradbury, and Orwell to the realities of the twenty-first century.

Even though in retrospect, a lot of the exhibit was a bit fatalistic and overdrawn, we both enjoyed it thoroughly, and it felt great to finally start exploring the art scene in my new city. The highlight of the show for me was a giant packing-tape tunnel suspended two stories above the ground that visitors could go inside. Based on what I read about the piece, it was meant to represent the social isolation of the twenty-first century, particularly in reference to a growing population of millenial hermits in Japan.** However, watching people interact with the piece, I saw quite the opposite effect. From waiting in line to enter, to crawling in with friends, people were laughing, joking with one another, and even barriers between strangers were broken. Every person I saw became a kid again the minute they set foot inside and came out with a huge grin on their face.

By the time we left the museum, it was getting dark, so we stopped by the grocery store before returning to my flat to make bruschetta chicken, a new recipe for both of us. We polished off a bottle of wine and stayed up late talking. Unfortunately, I had to wake up early to get to my 7:30 Monday morning lesson, but the whole weekend, though short, was a delight. There’s nothing like reconnecting with someone with whom you have a shared past.

*She just couldn’t wait to visit me :)))))

**???? someone explain this please