“Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it.”
- Merida, from the recent (excellent) animated movie, Brave
Sometimes life calls us to do big things. Most of the time, all we want to do, naturally, is curl up and be comfortable, to settle and do the norm.
I know recently I’ve felt that way, and many times in the past. I’d love to pull up a comfy chair, sink back into the cushions with a cup of great coffee and a book, and stay there, for a long time.
But that won’t work for me, especially right now. My family and I are in the midst of moving back to the US from a four-year assignment abroad in Czech Republic for my husband’s job. Physically, I wouldn’t be able to pull up a chair to sit in because our furniture is in transit in a container on a ship plowing across the Atlantic right now. We’re becoming experts at reading, sleeping, and eating on the floor. Ask any intercontinental expat and they’ll tell you a similar story. It’s how it works … the adjustment to a foreign country, and then back again, takes months. Things are going well, smoothly at times, even, but the whole experience is tough and terrifying.Read More»
Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads. -Author Unknown
In Winter, there is no better way to spend the dark, bleak, cold days than to hop on a pair of skis and enjoy the snow. Growing up, I skied often at the Purgatory Mountain resort in Durango, Colorado, where my grandmother lived. It was fun, exhilarating, and delightful, but also dangerous beyond belief. I love to ski.
When my family moved to Czech Republic, we skied downhill in the Austrian Alps–great experiences filled with deep snow, steep slopes, and frequent stops at the traditional Austrian huttes. But back at our home in Prague, we had snow, and snow, and more snow. The community farms and public parks in and around Prague were covered in deep snow for months, and cross-country skiers were everywhere. It was after the first winter in Czech Republic that I realized I was embracing the wrong kind of skiing.
I asked for a pair of used cross-country skis for my birthday our second year in Prague, and the day after my guys gave them to me, it snowed. Since roads aren’t plowed where we live, I could ski right out my front door (no more lugging heavy boots and skis), and after the first time out on the new (used) skis, I was hooked. So was the rest of my family, who also tried out my skis. We bought 4 more pairs of cross-country skis the next week.
Since then, we’ve skied every time it snows enough to cover the ground. We’ve traveled and skied in the Italian Dolomites, and last month, we brought our skis to Switzerland, to the Engadin lake region of the world-renowned St. Moritz.
Without a doubt, St. Moritz and Engadin have the most beautiful, pristine, well-kept, well-groomed, first-class ski conditions I’ve ever seen in my life. The trails go for 125 miles around lakes, up and down hills, and are used by novice and professional skiers alike. My husband and I and our kids (ages 14, 11, 10) skied only 15 or so miles, and it was the most beautiful trail I’ve ever imagined.
If you enjoy being outdoors in the winter, I highly recommend trying cross-country skiing. And if you enjoy cross-country skiing, there is no place in the world like skiing the Engadin lake valley of St. Moritz.
For You: Have you skied Engadin / St. Moritz? Where is your favorite place to cross-country ski?
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo
In the past few years, since my family and I moved to Europe from the US Midwest, I’ve had the opportunity to see and travel to far more places than I ever dreamed. It’s been one incredible adventure.
During that time, I’ve written dozens of posts on my travels around Europe, from places like Dubrovnik to Paris, from Sweden to Tuscany. We’ve traveled to 23 countries in Europe, and dipped our toes in 5 seas!
visited 24 countries (10.6%)
“The Hills are alive …” -The Sound of Music
It’s no secret that I love to travel. My favorite places to venture to are always into mountains or to a beach, anywhere.
Living in Prague has many advantages for its central location in Europe. My family and I have definitely taken roadtrips, and one of our favorites is to the Austrian Alps, to a region east of Salzburg called Salzgammergut. Most Americans know the region as the Sound of Music region. Yes, it is even more beautiful than in the movie!
Years ago, we found a village called St. Gilgen that has drawn us back time and time again over the 3 1/2 years we’ve lived here. I’ve written posts for AOL Travel and many posts here. But in all the times we’ve traveled to St. Gilgen, we’ve never gone in the autumn, and we’d never hiked the main peak, the Zwölferhorn.
This time, we did. Instead of a ten minute cable car ride, we did the 3 hour
hike climb. And it was amazing. So, without further ado, I want to show you the best of the photos I took last weekend.
Autumn Views from the Austrian Alps: a PhotojournalRead More»
"See the arrow they shot Trying to tear us apart Take the fire from my belly and the beat from my heart Still I won't let go Still I won't let go" -Coldplay, Hurts Like Heaven, Mylo Xyloto
Almost a year ago, I remember seeing a headline about Coldplay, a band I love, opening their European tour dates and tickets up online. My boys, also music fans, scrambled around me as they finished their homework that night, and helped me try to line up tickets. Coldplay was coming to Prague! Our town!
Getting to see a great band like Coldplay in a historic music city like Prague is a once-in-a-lifetime deal. The tickets didn’t come easily — whole rows sold while I tried to get the form information to work. But by the time dinner was supposed to be on the table, I didn’t have dinner made, but my golly, I had 5 tickets to Coldplay! In Prague! In September 2012!Read More»
“Nothing is worth more than this day.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If you’ve ever traveled to Prague, you probably flew in and know the airport is outside the city to the west. In recent months, getting from the airport to Prague’s Centrum (Center) is more challenging than it was. Not only is Prague constructing a new subway to the airport, but they’re (still) constructing the Blanca Tunnel under the Vltava River, the Smichov Tunnel under Smichov, and reconstructing the Letunsky Tunnel into Old Town. What that makes is one big Detour sign pointing to the single main road entering the city from the west.
Traffic? Oh, yes. But if you are arriving into Prague and trying to get into the city, the good news is that the remaining open road winds down the hill beside the Prague Castle. The views are stunning, which means that while you near-miss scraping with trams and buses, you’ll have a breathtaking scene for your first Prague photos. Construction or not, Prague is still beautiful, and so is the September weather.
“Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” -from “The Princess Bride” – Wesley to Buttercup
I simply love being at the beach. Sometimes I wonder why or how I can love it so much, but then maybe the key to it is in the b-e-i-n-g. The beach is the perfect place to just BE. My ideal world is a universe of beaches.
Last week, my family and I returned to Prague from a couple weeks in the US, and ended our US time with a week on the Gulf coast of Florida. The beach there was dreamy — clear water, sugar sand, full sun, and calm waves. We were lucky, though. The week before we arrived, a Tropical Storm dumped rain on the Tampa / Clearwater area.
There is something about the luxury of having days in a row ordered not by the hour on a clock, but by the tides. About the sand wearing off rough spots on the feet and in the mind. About the days ending with the great sun bobbing into the sea, while dolphin play games just an arms length away, so close they could be touched. The beach is made of magic.
Here, some photos of my favorite things about the beach:
There is no more vivid painting in the world than each moment at the beach leading up to the sunset. The colors heat up from midday’s pale blues to the flaming blood reds and oranges as the sun melts into the sea. Heart-stopping, every time.Read More»
“It is said that a good book has no ending. And if a Good book has no ending, then a Great book begs to live on, to be shared and discussed.
In the belief in and support of authors old and new and their newest books, the Great New Books book group reads and talks about one great recently-published book each month. New selections are chosen on the second Wednesday of each month. Join us in discovering the best new emerging books and writers.” -Great New Books book group
Not long ago, a friend rushed up to me at a party and took hold of my arm. She smiled, and said, “Have you heard of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS?”
This friend is a book-lover, a reading fanatic like me, so I knew she was talking about a book. I shook my head, no. “Oh, you have to read it. Have to. I can’t stop thinking about it, it’s that good.”
The first thing I did when I got home was to google THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. And now, as I finish the book, I turn the last page and nod. Yes. It was that good. Maybe even better.
Good books are meant to live on. Great books change lives, and are meant to be shared. Books offer unique insights into life that bring so many things to the reader who dares to venture between its pages … a new place and experience, a new lens to see through, new shoes to walk in. Books offer intimacy, and yet books long to be discussed. Literature is a lifeline to an enriched inner world. A book group is the perfect place to link up with other book-lovers and chat about a great new read.
After many months of thinking about it, I’ve decided to take Hazel Grace’s advice (from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), “There is no try … there is only do.” I’m introducing a new book group, the GREAT NEW BOOKS group at Goodreads.com.
The defining factors:
- When: We’ll discuss one Great Book per month, selected on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.
- Where: Each new book will be announced here on my blog and at the Great New Books site at Goodreads.com.
- What: One Great Book = one that has been published within the last year that I’ve bought, read, and loved; a book that is powerful and thought-provoking and deserves a highest recommendation.
- Why New books?: To discover the best recently-published books. To support authors who are working hard to launch their words, thoughts, stories, and dreams out into the world.
- Why: To share books and great discussion
- Other: Books that won’t be recommended for the GREAT NEW BOOKS book group: children in danger, porn or erotica, sugary-sweet or formula of any genre, dark or grim books without light in the story (life is hard enough as it is).
For you: To participate, what do you need to do?
- Click here to access the GREAT NEW BOOKS Book Group page at Goodreads. Click the link on the page to join.
- Get your hands on the monthly book, from your library or by borrowing or buying it. (Books are a worthwhile investment, an investment in yourself.)
- Read and discuss as you will.
So without further ado, introducing the first month’s read for GREAT NEW BOOKS:
John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
It’s a fabulous book, one that I’ve just finished, and one that I loved so much I had to read it with a pen-in-hand. LOTS to discuss in it, including the humor and the tragedy. It is oh-so-rich.
So, click through to the link to GREAT NEW BOOKS at Goodreads and let’s get started. Oh– and to help us get started, a big thank you in advance for tweeting, linking, facebooking, and recommending Great New Books to your friends. It’s bound to be fun. I look forward to seeing you there!
If you have comments or questions, please leave a comment below or email me at contact (at) jenniferlynking (dot) com.
Thanks for joining me on one of the most extraordinary adventures in life: through reading, through the pages of a book.
“Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.” – Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Prague German Jewish author, novelist
Prague is the most beautiful city on earth, and I think Franz Kafka agreed with me.
Even after living in Prague as an expat for three years, I still have not tired of Prague’s beauty. From the steep city hills to the winding Vltava River, to the time-worn cobblestones to the thousand spires skyline, Prague is a city like no other. If you haven’t visited Prague yet, you must. Start a jar for saving nickles and dimes today.
When you arrive in Prague, you’ll realize the centerpiece of the city is the Prague Castle, which sits high on a ridge overlooking the Vltava River. The Czech government still meets in Prague Castle today, yet the first structures within the Castle date back to around the year 880 AD. It is a fascinating place to tour.
If you have 3 hours, you can see much of Prague Castle. Here, my 10 favorite sites within the Castle walls:
1) Golden Lane.
2) Kafka’s house on Golden Lane.Read More»
“Unquestionably the best of all writers conferences, this two [three]-day annual conference has leaped to the top with its emphasis on quality, not quantity. There are no formal pitch sessions. Instead, you’ll have the opportunity to attend quality workshops and mingle with some of the best editors, agents and other publishing professionals in the industry in a comfortable, non-aggressive atmosphere.” – Bibliobuffet
In the last week, I’ve traveled from Prague to New York City and back. And while it’s so good to be home, it’s even better being home with the new bundle of information I gained from the writing conference I attended in New York City. BackSpace Writers Conference filled my mind with a well of new ideas.
Out of all of the writers conferences I’ve attended over the years, BackSpace was by far the best.Read More»