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October First | Kicking off Fall in Prague, Czech Republic

October First is a holiday I made up to celebrate the start of fall, my favorite season. I realize that Fall technically begins in late September, but September always felt like more of a back-to-school month and it was always too hot in Illinois, anyway, to really feel like fall.

The origin of October First the holiday dates back to my freshman year of college (and I have been forcing it down my friends’ and family’s throats every since). I didn’t have a car, and my parents were planning to visit the first weekend of October. I asked them to drive me around and help me find a halloween costume. I was Raggedy Anne that year, a costume my parents bought me from the kids section at Walmart (partly because it was cheaper, partly because I was small, and partly because it came with this weird yarn braid hat which is awful looking back but I thought was great at the time.)

My Raggedy Anne costume from Halloween 2007. My pumpkin was supposed to be Cinderella. That was the last time I bought the fancy pumpkin carving stencils.

After halloween shopping, I picked out my pumpkin that would sit outside my dorm room door for the next 30 days (and ultimately rot into the worst mold I’d ever seen). Then we went to Curtis Orchard, took a million cheesy pictures, ate apple cider donuts and it was the perfect day. October First was the perfect day.

Posing with our pumpkins at Curtis Orchard in Champaign, IL.

Raggedy Anne was the last costume I ever purchased, and I started making my own costumes which is much more fun. So October First became the day I would pick my halloween costume and buy all the supplies I needed to start crafting. I would go on to be a Ninja Turtle, grapes, a bird, Cindy Luo Who and R2D2 to name a few.

I was particularly proud of how my grape costume turned out. The only costume I ever almost passed out making!

The holiday continued to evolve throughout the years as it began a true celebration of the fall season. After I moved to Chicago, I started saving my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season for October First. I wore my favorite fall outfit which usually included a cozy sweater and shades or maroon or mustard yellow. I fell in love with this cozy pasta place in Lincoln Park (Pasta Palazzo) where we went to for a few years for the best Pumpkin Ravioli in the world. We started adding pumpkin beer or cider to the mix. We’d plan to go to football games, apple orchards or corn mazes if we were lucky enough for the holiday to fall on a weekend.

While not technically October First, we celebrated the October First weekend at an Illinois Football game in 2014.

Last year, we found ourselves celebrating October First in London. It was cool and rainy, so I got to wear my favorite sweater and take umbrella pictures in front of Tower Bridge. We had pumpkin ravioli from Borough Market, drank homemade cider and then went for high tea. It was the best day. October First was the best day.

My first Pumpkin Spice Latte on October First in London, 2016.

So this year, one of the first questions I asked Kenny when we started finalizing dates and cities for this trip was where we’d be on October First. The answer was traveling to Prague and this is how we spent our day.

Fall Foliage

I was a little worried at first when I realized that we would be on a bus for six hours on October First. I thought that we were going to miss out on fall activities! Little did I know that we would be treated to six hours of the most stunning fall landscapes I’d ever seen. If you ever have the chance to drive between Munich and Prague, or a similar drive in the region, in October, you should absolutely do it!

I wasn’t really able to get a great picture through the tinted bus windows, but we drove through miles of rolling hills covered in colorful trees, quaint towns, and deers running through pastures. It was beautiful on October First, but in another week or two, it would be absolutely breathtaking.

It was honestly the best fall foliage I’ve been able to see on October First. The trees haven’t quite turned by October First in the Midwest (did you notice I was wearing shorts in the Pumpkin Patch photo?), so while taking a trip to an orchard is nice, it’s still pretty green. So this was a real treat and a great way to kickstart the fall vibes.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

I started working at Starbucks in high school, and I’ll never forget my first PSL season. This was a time when only barista’s referred to them as PSLs because that’s what we wrote on the cups (we called most seasonal drinks by their shorthand cup code). I didn’t realize that pumpkin spice was a thing, until we got the syrup delivered in August for September roll-out and everyone went crazy! I didn’t get it. It was 90 degrees outside.

But then I tried it, and it was magical! So I had another, and another, and another. And next thing you know, it wasn’t even October yet and I was already burnt out on my favorite fall drink! So to prevent this, the next near I’d only drink them iced until the weather cooled down, or I’d add a pump of pumpkin to a caramel macchiato or chai just to get a taste before going full-on pumpkin. Eventually, I just decided to wait on all things pumpkin until October First. It makes my first pumpkin latte extra special, and it means I don’t wear them out too quickly.

We got Triple Grande Pumpkin Space Lattes from the Starbucks on Wenceslas Square, walked toward the Vltava river, through the parks, and over the Charles Bridge. It was perfect.


American Football has an extra special charm when you’re not in America. Tracking down a bar that says they play it and actually do play it is always an adventure. Since we’re in Europe, the time change means that noon games in the US are actually 7 PM night games, which also means we can usually only watch one of them. Then there’s the camaraderie between everyone else in the bar, usually expats or fellow travelers, who all share the love of the sport. It’s nice!

In Prague, we made our way to Jama, a restaurant owned by an American expat wearing a Bears hat. They had three rooms, each with a different game on. The tables near the TVs were reserved for NFL fans, which was extra nice because everyone around us was actually watching the game. And there were quite a few people there!

We ate nachos and quesadillas, drank Czech beer, and watched the Patriots and Panthers fans go through the roller coaster that was that game. It felt just how fall is supposed to feel.

It was the best day. October First was the best day.

Camille Xin

Wednesday 6th of March 2019

Hello, I am planning our mid October Prague -Vienna-Budapest trip now. After reading your blog, I am thinking about going to Munich for 2-3 days for the fall color.

1. When you said October First, do you mean you really were on the the way from Munich to Prague on October 1st?

2. What colors were those rolling hills? Still green or brown already? What is the color of those foliage? Are there red and orange colors? Or mostly yellow, green and brown?

3. Driving might have more chance to see beautiful landscape due to flexibility. Do you think if we are on the bus, will we see and take photos of some beautiful rolling hills and fall landscape?

4. If we do not go Munich, then we can add more days in each city and take day trips to nearby places.

Would like to have your input. Thanks!


Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Hi Camille! October is going to be such a beautiful time for your trip! If you're looking for PEAK colors, I probably aim for mid-October, but it could obviously vary year by year (I was there in 2017).

1 - Yes, we took the bus from Munich to Prague on October First. 2 - When we made the trip (Munich-Prague on Oct 1), the yellows and oranges were really starting to come through, but there was still some green in there. I would say about 40% orange/yellow and 60% green. By the time we got to Budapest on Oct 13, we were in really prime color time. I would say we were at 80% orange/yellows. It was really breathtaking, especially the hike to the citadel in Budapest. 3 - You really wouldn't get many photo ops from the bus. You're going too fast to get even decent photos. The drive might give you better photos, but I can't recall if there were a lot of good places to stop along the way. There were beautiful parks and views in Munich, Prague and Budapest though, so you will definitely get your fix there. 4 - I personally would recommend Munich-Prague-Budapest and skip Vienna. We just weren't Vienna fans and are obsessed with Munich. However, if you end up skipping Munich and keep Vienna, you should DEFINITELY take a day trip to Bratislava from Vienna. That's one of our favorite towns in the world. So cute and you'll have great views from the castle.

Have so much fun on your trip!! Keep me posted! :)