Owen was pretty low on the corporate ladder back then. Isaiah, almost a year old, and I were tagging along on his business trip to the Czech Republic. For the first portion of our stay we were just going to make due with whatever arrangements the company had made for Owen in the town of Jihlava. During the second part of the trip we had extended the stay on our own dime to tour Prague. Being the dutiful man that he is, Owen had made this known to his company. After all it really changed nothing as I was willing to do all of the child care and touring my heart desired while he was fulfilling his commitments. Somewhere along the way however, word got out that Owen was bringing his family, and to accommodate our situation we were moved into an executive suite normally reserved as an apartment for executives with long term stays. The room was like a studio with a kitchenette, a large bed and an extremely large bathroom with a spacious walk-in shower unlike any European bath I had seen before. Thoughtfully management had even furnished the room with a crib for our son.
The first night of our stay was a difficult adjustment for the baby. He was still on our time schedule, which was about a six hour difference. Owen has a practice of trying to get on the schedule of where he is traveling right away, so he went to bed in the evening to be able to get up early in the morning to head off to the plant. To Isaiah it felt like lunch time, and he wasn’t sleepy at all. Since he and I could make our own schedule, I set up a play area away from the bed and tried to keep him as quiet as possible. When we had arrived the very nice woman behind the desk informed us that a complementary breakfast would be offered between the hours of like 6-9 am. Since the baby and I had finally gone to sleep around 2 am Czech time I had decided to sleep through breakfast, besides European cafes with fun pastries are one of my favorite things about Europe- so whenever we woke up I was confident we would be able to find something to eat.
Some time around 10 o’clock, the baby and I were still asleep when there was a knock on the door. I knew it wasn’t Owen, he had left a few hours ago, and he had a key. I got up and asked who was there. I recognized the voice of the nice woman who had checked us in the day before and opened the door. Much to my surprise she had three large trays full of food! She had noticed that we missed breakfast and wanted to make sure we had something to eat. There was a tray of sliced meats and cheeses, a tray of breads and pastries, and a tray of fresh fruit and two different yogurts. She had also brought orange juice, water and coffee. I felt like a queen! I didn’t have to wake the baby or go anywhere! Plus Isaiah had options when he did wake since he could easily eat a banana and yogurt.
It was a lovely start to the day to say the least. And I actually felt guilty that I couldn’t eat it all! (And I made it a point not to miss breakfast again). After we got dressed, we did a little exploration of the city. There were cute little boutiques hidden behind painted doors. There was hustling and bustling down narrow streets full of working people and little cars. Because the area we were in was very business like and everything looked the same (and because I instinctively have no sense of direction), I didn’t want to stray too far because we had gotten a late start and I knew Owen would be back from work soon. Not too long after we returned to the room and I had put Isaiah down for a nap, Owen walked through the door and informed me of where we were going to dinner.
Apparently the place we were staying also had a restaurant downstairs. I hadn’t even been able to see or hear it from the lobby, but all we had to do after we went down the three flights of stairs from the floor of our room, was take a different turn which landed us right in a unique type of dining hall. The walls were made of stones and the tables and chairs were dark wood. There was a fire burning in a fireplace that seemed to be in the middle of the room and a cooking fire in the corner. You could see pots hanging from an area that must have lead to the kitchen and the whole place was packed full of locals and business men and women that already knew about this hidden treasure. To say it was charming would be an understatement and I was completely delighted. The weather outside was chilly, somewhere between fall and winter, inside was warm and picturesque.
We were seated at a long table filled with executives; sellers and buyers. I was a part of the only family there and they had insisted that we come. Everyone greeted us warmly and commented on Owen as an appreciated employee and respected colleague. I felt their sincerity and I was proud of him. I think it was a nice change for everyone to have something a little more personal rather than all business as usual. After spending all day together at a plant resolving issues and talking numbers, I’m sure it was a nice diversion.
The restaurant was accustomed to international patrons and equipped with menus in English. As a starter I selected a soup I had never seen before or again. It was simply called Garlic Soup, and considering the weather outside, the warmth inside and my love of garlic it just seemed right. When they brought it to the table I didn’t really know what to expect. It was broth-y and mostly clear. It had a few little drops of oil that had collected at the top. I don’t remember seeing any pieces of garlic per say, only a couple of thinly sliced scallion rings. It was light and fulfilling at the same time. It was warm, satisfying and delicious. After that I really can’t recall any more of the soup or anything else I ate that evening, but I do know that I ordered it two more times before we left the city. I have researched recipes for Garlic Soup since, some were creamy and some were chunky; none were ever close to what I had at that quaint restaurant on the bottom floor of the of the executive apartments where I was treated like a queen.
Featured image taken in Prague, Czech Republic