This is Liberec: a cozy, homey, charming little place surrounded by the Jizera Mountains, sometimes affectionately and other times begrudgingly referred to as the “toilet of the Czech Republic.” What they mean by that is it rains a lot here, like the gods are wringing out a wet towel over the city. It seems like the weather is always a topic of conversation and when the storm clouds swell, people’s moods and plans change accordingly. “It’s normal for Liberec,” they say.
But in between the many days of misty showers and sullen skies, there are perfect days. When the sun shines, the city sparkles. It’s radiant and effortless and flawlessly wholesome. And again, people’s moods change accordingly. It’s as simple as that. There is a reaction for every fluctuating weather forecast: gratitude comes in abundance when nature bestows her gifts and melancholy settles in with the swift blow of nature’s wrath. And because of this, we Liberec folk are vulnerable. It’s a shared vulnerability and a shapeshifting of constantly changing skies and oscillating mood swings, and I’m happy to be a part of something so untenable and unpredictable. A day of blue skies is cause for celebration and inky skies are an excuse to hole up and loaf around. We rejoice together and we sulk together, and I can appreciate that.
Though rippled with rollercoaster-like hills, Liberec rewards aching pedestrians for their hard work with stunning mountain views subtly revealed throughout the city. On a clear day, you can easily spot Ješted, the highest peak in Liberec and the symbol of the city. A beacon always visible on the horizon. From the summit, you can see the entire scope of Liberec and into the backyards of neighbors Germany and Poland.
Liberec is the fifth largest city in the Czech Republic, but I consider it more of a town. And in this town, life is uncomplicated. Just two months in and barely scratching the surface of this foreign turf, I’ve found my new roots easily.