Hey, I’m 24!

It’s sort of like this, I guess.

But in all seriousness, I turned 24 a few weeks ago, and my birthday has only now just ended. Or will end probably tomorrow, when I finish eating the delicious homemade pizza that was one of the very thoughtful (and definitely the most nourishing) gifts that I received. Once again, my childlike love for my birthday was not diminished by everything that’s gone on in the last few weeks.

It all started pretty normally, with a trip up to Liberec’s most famous landmark, the Jested tower, with my parents. Luckily, it was open even on Easter Monday, a fact that was not true for the pub where I had made an online reservation for later that night. When we found that out, we went wandering around the city looking for a suitable place that was open, ending up at the pub across from one of my schools, where I go for beers every week after volleyball. Now, this place is no great shakes. Just your basic pub, tables and chairs, a lot of smoke, nothing fancy, but it’s got good food and beers for 21 crowns. And especially because my parents wanted to actually get a taste of how I live in Liberec, it made a lot of sense to have it there.

(Side note about Easter in the CR – they celebrate on Monday, and the main tradition is that guys walk around with whips made of braided willow branches, hitting girls and getting either chocolate or alcohol from the girls they’ve whipped. Just thought that was worth a mention.)

It was a surprisingly fun night, considering that most people had school or work the next day and that most of the Czechs had already spent the morning drunk from their Easter caroling. I got to see quite a few of my favorite people in Liberec, my parents got to meet my friends, and I ended up with a hangover worthy of a birthday, which, of course, was the point. Honestly, that would have been enough. I celebrated. Done. However . . . it wasn’t.

So, on Friday, my friends had a surprise party for me. I knew it was happening, but I didn’t know what it would be. I was told to show up at a friend’s place before 7 and to dress casually, which I did, and then I was promptly blindfolded and led into a car. Luckily I was assured that the blindfolding wasn’t completely necessary, because after a few minutes on the windy mountain roads just outside Liberec, I wasn’t feeling so hot, so I had to take it off. By then it was clear, though. I was about to have another quintessential Liberec experience — cabin party!

Idyllic, right?

This is another reason why I think that Czechs just know how to enjoy life more than Americans. Normal people, not just millionaires, have cabins outside town where they can go for the weekend, enjoy the outdoors, ski, whatever. This particular cabin was stocked with literally everything we needed to have an awesome night, including beds for all 14 people that came. Apparently, with almost no coordination at all, the people involved had brought enough food and alcohol to keep everyone full and entertained for the whole time, including a delicious breakfast the next morning. Grilled chicken and fish? Check. Cake? Check. Marshmellows? Check. Nutella? Check. Beer? Is that even a question?

The real point is, though, that seven months after arriving in a city where I knew no one, I had one of my best birthdays to date. Really goes along with how the rest of this year has gone, I think. Only three months to go — I’ll try to blog more than three times before then, shall I?

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