And you took me to Prague and back

I’ve been back in the United States for a week.

That means I’ve been away from Prague for a week.

I’m lying to myself and saying that it’s nice to be home. Yes, I do love the ketchup bottles freely placed on the table and the fact that if I need to pee I can without paying a hundred koronas. I miss the Czech effeciency and the fact that no one speaks to you in the grocery store (but also you couldn’t understand them if they did).

I miss my time in Prague but it will forever be a part of who I am. Heck, I even feel like a whole new person. It was an indescribable experience that has only sparked my love for travel even more.

I have shared many aspects of Prague with my family: I brought them beer soaps and goulash spices and trdelnik mix and Czech garnet jewelry. I cracked open a Kingswood with my family and taught them na zdraví (“cheers”):

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Real quick I’d like to thank my family for supporting my adventures, the Honor Program at Central Michigan University for encouraging studying abroad, Central Michigan University’s Office of Study Abroad for their support, USAC and their amazing and passionate staff in Prague and all my friends that I met who where an essential part of making my experience so extraordinary.

And while I may be saying Na shledanou to this blog, I will not being saying it to Prague. The city now holds a special place in my heart and has imprinted itself on who I am; I cannot wait to return.

Field Tour Day 5

The final day of the field tour was spent mostly driving. We left Budapest and headed to Bratislava. First, we got off the bus at the castle where we walked around for a little and then we walked down into the town.

Here, we had free time which I spent with a few people visiting souvenir shops. We also stumbled upon a free museum hidden in “Bratislava’s oldest souvenir shop.” The museum was a room filled with old cash registers and another filled with other items that had been in the shop at one point or another.

USAC then covered lunch at BARtislava where we had cheese perogies. From here we traveled to Devín Castle. It’s a ruin situated above where the Danube and Morava River intersect and from the castle you can look from Slovakia to Austria.

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So we hiked to the top of the castle which provided breath-taking views (and great photo ops).

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We spent the rest of our time down at the Morava River where a few people swam from our side of the river in Slovakia to the other in Austria. I didn’t swim because my suit was at the bottom of my duffle bag which was in the bottom of the bus. Also, I did not want to sit in the bus all wet for the remaining hours of our ride back to Prague.

Halfway into our ride Jan broke out a snack for us all: Hungarian cheese and meats. The chopped up four different types of cheese and five types of sausages (one of which was horse meat, I was told it was good just really greasy) and passed it around with slices of bread. Here is Jan with the bread before it was sliced:

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Our ride ended up being two hours longer than it should have been due to terrible traffic. We were at a standstill for an hour. Eventually we did get home though, and after enjoying my last meal at Pivovarsky Klub downstairs, I returned to the almost empty apartment (Brooke was still there but it still felt like a ghost town) and finished packing up before leaving for my flight at three am.

See the pictures from today here.

Field Tour Day 4

If you want the full experience I had in Budapest you’ll need to play the first five or so lines of “Budapest” by George Ezra on repeat. 

We started today with one of the things I was most excited for: the spas. Dang right.

We took the oldest metro in Europe there, which felt more like a train ride little kids would take at the zoo, and stopped to see the Heroes Monument on the way to the spas.

The spas consisted of three outdoor pools and a few dozen indoor pools and saunas. In the two hours we were there, Megan and I pretty much got into every pool. They are all different either in terms of temperature or water composition. Jan told us that in Hungary doctors will perceive their patients time in certain pools for their various ailments. I wish that there had been more explanations available for what each of the pools did but I didn’t see much beyond the temperature even in Magyar (the Hungarian language). Some were better than others. Our favorite was the Eucalyptus pool and sauna. It left our skin feeling really soft afterwards. I also liked the cooler outdoor pool which had more of a “pool day” vibe to it. I didn’t take any photos while at the spas because I didn’t want to worry about my phone getting wet but maybe I’ll steal some from Megan if she posts them.

We then went on a walk with Dáša and The Professor. We went to a market to get lunch. Dáša only gave us twenty minutes so it was a mad scramble to exchange money and find food. I ended up with a small chocolate cake, a berry pastry of some sort and six cheese straws (which were essentially bread sticks). While it was an unconventional lunch, it was tasty and left me wanting more cakes.

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We then took a ferry up the Danube River to parliament. As a group we walked from there to see several buildings in Budapest. We stopped at St. Stephen’s Basilica where St. Stephen’s severed hand is displayed. It was kind of a let down because you couldn’t see the hand as it was 1. Shriveled and super old and 2. Protected by an elaborate glass case.

There was a gelato place nearby that served the rose shaped ice cream which had wanted in Prague but never got so I finally checked that item off my bucket list. I got mango, vanilla, and grapefruit.

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Our last stop was the Dohány Street Synagogue. It was really pretty and there was a lot to explore but Megan and I were tired and also I was wearing a dress as a skirt with the sleeves flapping about at my waist (since I was wearing shorts that didn’t cover my knees they made me cover up) and feeling a bit ridiculous, so we left and returned to our hotel.

Megan was leaving for Belgrade at eleven so she finished packing and then we went to find the bus station and explore more (aka bought souvenirs).

My day ended with us getting dinner at Magyar Qtr. Originally we went to get Hungarian food but I ended up ordering ratatouille. It was good nonetheless.

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Upon return to the hotel I had to say goodbye to Megan which meant that this is really ending.

And I really don’t want it to.

See the pictures from today here.

Field Tour Day 3

Our second and final morning in Vienna was spent at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It’s a fine art museum in the museum quarter and had pieces from Rudolf II’s Kunstkammer in an exhibit which was something I really wanted to see since I had written my essay on it.

My favorite part was when I saw the bust of Rudolf II that Adriaen de Vries sculpted because I had even included a picture of it in my paper!

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The fact that I learned so much about this subject and these important works of art and then all I had to do was travel a few hours to see it in person was amazing. It’s a unique experience that you don’t get much in the United States and I think it’s invaluable.

After spending about an hour in the museum, Megan and I went to get more chocolates from the store we went to yesterday (we may have eaten all the ones we had gotten for ourselves and I needed more for my family because I know they wouldn’t want to share). Then we went into another local cafe on our way back to Maria-Theresien-Platz. The waiter was super nice and helped me translate the German menu and I got a Greek salad. Megan got an apple strudel which she said wasn’t as good as yesterday’s.

Once back in the square we napped in the grass for about an hour before meeting the rest of USAC to leave for Budapest. Jan, Dáša, Lukáš, Geiger and his wife, Lenka, all showed up in traditional outfits which they then wore the rest of the day.

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Once outside the city, we stopped at a rest stop and Jan cracked open a box of Sacher, a Austrian dessert, that we all had before setting out. On our way to Budapest we stopped at Pannonhalma which is the oldest abbey in Hungary. We got a tour from one of the monks, Father Albin.

While we only got to see three rooms in the monastery: the dining room, the hallway, and the abbey (fun fact about the abbey: the furniture was recently replaced and the designer wanted it to be very straight and square so he put the seats at a 90 degree angle. The monks didn’t like this so they compromised and the seat backs are at a 92 degree angle instead). Father Albin totally made the entire tour worth it. He was so funny and answered any question we had about his life and life as a monk.

Someone asked him what would happen if he ever wanted to leave the monastery and he said that they have little bracelets on their ankles that would explode. He also asked us if we’d ever heard of Pope Francis and said he’s a great guy.

My favorite part about Father Albin was that he loved movies a lot and one of his favorite things to do is go to the theater and get a big thing of popcorn and watch his movies. He told us, after making us swear to not tell his class (he’s a history teacher at the boarding school at the monastery), that his favorite movie is Clueless.

After the tour we continued onto Budapest. We arrived around 8 and after checking in we jumped right into the city and did an Danube Promenade. Essentially a fancily named walk. Jan walked us along the Danube River (which was crazy because I remember learning about the Danube in like seventh grade and freshman year but never thought I’d see it) to dinner.

We had some wine which was very dry but also very good with some soup. While I didn’t sample the non-vegetarian soup, many people claimed that it was incredible. My soup was also really good, there was some type of Hungarian noodle in it which I loved. The same noodles came with my dinner which was some sort of mushroom dish. Lukáš and Alzbeta tried to convince us that the non-vegetarian dish was dog. I’m still not quite sure what the dish was but everyone liked it.

Following food we were led on a walk to and around the castle. The Professor said that they consider tonight a highlight of he tour and I would agree. Seeing the castle and it’s structures lit up over the Danube River where I could look out upon both the Buda side and the Pest side was something I’ll never forget.

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See the pictures from today here.

Field Tour Day 2

I woke up this morning in Vienna, Austria. Since we had gotten into our hotel at midnight and Europe has strict laws regarding that bus drivers rest a certain amount of time, we didn’t leave the hotel until 11:30. So until then we woke up, went to the free (and delicious) breakfast at the hotel and returned to take a nap.

At 11:30 we left for Schönbrunn Palace Gardens. Two things Vienna does better than Prague are their gardens and their palaces. They were so big and grand, complete with massive fountains and entire forests.

We walked around Schönbrunn for about an hour before getting back on the bus and driving to lunch. We ate at Schimanko which is a vineyard as well. It was no surprise the wine was really good. They served us soup and potato salad before bringing out massive pieces of Wiener schnitzel. As a vegetarian, I had mac and cheese instead which was fine by me.

After finishing we hopped on the bus (it’s a trend of this trip) and it dropped us off in the Central of Vienna where The Professor gave us a tour. The Professor is a teacher (shocking, huh?) that is on the field tour and gives small lectures everywhere we go. He does have a real name but no one can remember what it is so we call him The Professor.

We walked through Vienna and saw many grand and beautiful buildings, many of which I do not recall their purpose, before ending outside a cathedral. At this point a group of us, including Megan and I, did some shopping before walking to the castle. I bought some chocolate for myself and my family which was perfect because they ended up asking for some chocolate later.

As a group we saw the castle and surrounding area before ending up laying in a park outside this building:

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It was the first time all day any of us had WiFi so we laid in the grass for probably a good hour on our phones and chatting. We then split up and Megan and I went to get some Apple Strudel. I googled where to get the best apple strudel and there was a cafe just six minutes away, Cafe Elias, and the two of us headed there. It was a very historic feeling Cafe and their apple strudel was indeed really, really good. I also had an Aperol Spritz which is a drink many of the USAC girls like.

We then wandered around, originally intending to return to our hotel, and were sidetracked while trying to find souvenirs. Outside the Opera they were live-broadcasting Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande so we stopped for a little to listen even though we didn’t have a clue what was happening. We made it back to our hotel around 11 after I navigated us there using only my paper map! That was a proud moment; maybe I’m not so directionally challenged.

See the pictures from today here.

Field Tour Day 1

We left on our bus at 7 am to Dívčí Kámen, which is the ruins of a medieval castle. This was still in the Czech Republic, and was on the way to Česky Krumlov. It was a three hour drive there and then we hiked to the ruins which was about a half hour. When we got to the bottom of the small hill the ruins sat upon some of us broke off to use the restrooms (read “porta-potty”… singular). By the time I had gotten up to the ruins with the rest of the group we were going to leave in ten minutes therefore I didn’t get to explore much. It was still beautiful though and the hike wasn’t too hard so it was worth going to.

We then rode the bus another ten minutes or so to Česky Krumlov which is a medieval town. There was a festival going on: the Celebration of the Five Petaled Rose. The five petaled rose is the symbol of the Rosenberg family and the festival was celebrating their reign in Bohemia.

The festival which took over the whole small city was much like a renaissance festival back home. We had about three free hours so Megan and I walked around exploring before meeting at the Bear Moat (which is named so because there is literally a bear in the moat) for a castle tour.

There were no pictures allowed in the castle but it was quite possibly my favorite castle tour because much of the furnishings were the same ones that were left in the mid-1900s when the Schwarzenberg family fled from the Germans. Seeing the way that an important family would decorate their castle and what were the purposes of many of the objects was fascinating.

After the tour we had another three hours free in the city so we grabbed dinner and then went and laid in the grass near a stage for an hour and a half. While there, a boy who was probably just over a year old came over and played with us by handing us rocks and such. It was such a cute moment because we were from such different cultures and he didn’t even speak yet but we could still play with him.

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We ended with a four hour bus ride to Vienna (where Jan was waiting, he had left us at Dívčí Kámen, RODE HIS BIKE TO VIENNA, and checked us into the hotel because he needed to be there at a certain time). The hotel was three to a room so Megan and I paired with a girl named Sarah. Pretty much once we got into the room and changed we were all out cold asleep.

See the pictures from today here.

Did.

In a desperate scramble to check the last things off our Prague Bucket List Emileigh, Megan and I set out in Friday.

First we hit up a store that sells some cheaper spray paint to go to the Lennon wall. On our way back to the metro from the shop we stopped to watch a film crew hoping that maybe we’d see Tom Felton just because he is in Prague and filming.

The movie filming ended up being Ophelia: the movie Tom Felton is in.

While we didn’t see him, we are fairly certain we saw Daisy Ridley. Nbd.

Our small fangirl moment passing, we headed to the wall to tag. There were quite a few tourists there taking pics but it was still manageable to find a spot to tag.

54722F44-D129-41B9-9DDF-D0840E7F076FI tagged the words “Could Should Would Did.” because I feel like that reflects how I came to study abroad. Right now I am in the “Did” and I like life a lot better here so I’m going to use my tag as a reminder of all the amazing things that can happen when you just do what you should/could/would do. No excuses.

Emileigh and I also tagged a quick “Fire Up” because had to give a shout out to Central at some point.

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From there we went and walked around the Lesser Quarter and got lunch there. I went for Forrest fruit filled pancakes which were delicious but I also wish I had had the foresight to put my drink and food better (Kingswood and crepes was a bit odd).

The three of us then headed to Andel for a cider festival. It was right along the Vltava River and we paid 50 koronas to get in. There were a couple dozen vendors all with different types of cider and some food vendors (which was not included in the entrance fee but worth it nonetheless). My favorite cider was either the Strawberry-Lime that Megan got or my Ginger Pear Cider.

Our time at the festival was limited because Megan and I had to be back for a dinner at Pivovarskey Klub that was a sort of field tour orientation.

Later, after dinner, we had our last hurrah and a majority of the USAC students hit up Lucerna. While I didn’t drink nearly as much as last time (Saturday morning we had to meet at the bus at 8 am) it was still an amazing time and I didn’t want to leave.

See the pictures from today here.

Rollin’ on a River

Our final went really well Thursday morning! I got a 29/30 which, frankly, was surprising. But a welcome surprise.

After class I went with Miranda, Jackie, Steve and Chase to IF Cafe to get some breakfast. When we got to the cafe, Janek, a YouTuber who had become a celebrity within our group due to his “Insider Guide to Prague” videos, was there. None of us went up to him though, we just starred from a distance. The cafe was good, I just had an apple strudel which was good, but many other dishes looked way better. It’s sad that I will not be able to return and try some of the other dishes.

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After breakfast I returned to my bed to nap since I still was not feeling well.

At 4:30, all the Summer 1 USAC people met for the farewell boat cruise. As we got on the boat we all were handed a shot of some very gross cinnamon vodka thing.

We had dinner and floated East and North on the Vltava River. At one point we even passed under the Charles Bridge!

After the cruise many people went out but in desperate need of a tissue and good lay down I returned to K17.

The rest of the night I spent slowly working on packing up my part of the room. I’ll only have seven hours between returning from the field visit to when I leave for my flight so I wanted to have pretty much everything ready to go.

There’s one thing I can’t seem to get ready to leave: me.

Souvenirs

Sorry my blog posts will be/are pretty sporadic. Not only is my free time limited now that I’m on the field tour but Wifi is also hard to find. Thus, I am writing my blog posts offline and will post them when I have enough time and internet to post these.

Anyways, Wednesday was pretty much like any day right before a major test. Jackie and I spent the day studying and finishing our essays. Oddly, we had both chosen the same topic from the list that our professor gave us: Mannerism and Rudolf II. While I found it hard to complete the essay due to lack of sources, I did find Rudolf II to be very interesting!

Today I also finished up my souvenir shopping. I think my family will like my gifts, but I know at least my dad reads this blog so I’ll blog about the gifts in my “I’m back home and grateful for free bathrooms and ketchup but otherwise very sad” post.

Also, my allergies got really bad today and it looks like I’ll spend my last days abroad with a stuffy nose and cough! What a great souvenir for myself!

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Some people had a great idea when they worked on their term paper at chunks of time for a few days and managed to finish early.

Because it sucks to spend some of the last days in Prague sitting and working on a paper.

While it helps that Jackie is in the same situation as me and we were keeping each other company, I really wish I had done my paper earlier so I wouldn’t have to spend my last Tuesday working.

I ended up in a good spot though (its not due until Thursday so I could work on it Wednesday also) so it was nice to not have the entire paper weighing on me when we went strawberry picking.

It was a USAC organized event with 25 students. We took the metro and a bus to somewhere outside Prague and then walked to a strawberry farm. There, we were given a bag and about forty minutes to pick.

Of course, I had to sample each bush as I went to make sure I was picking the good berries!

I think I ate more than I put in the bag which made for a nasty side cramp when we were walking back to the bus.

Next, we took the bus to a church nearby and made jam and dumplings from the strawberries. First, I was put on the job of cutting the tops off the strawberries along with about ten others. When we were done it low key looked like a crime scene.

Also, the berries had spent a decent amount of time turning to mush in the hot bags as we walked so they were kind of gross.

Some people worked on making the dumplings while we did that. We then took our strawberries to be made into jam. It was something I had never done and I was not aware how much smashing/stirring was required.

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Everything turned out to be really good in the end! All 25 of us sat around and ate dumplings while complaining how many there were (and while this was going on Geiger’s wife Lenka was still cooking and serving us more dumplings).

While we did end up taking several tupperwares full of various strawberry products home, I was totally strawberried-out… until the next morning.

See the pictures from today here.

“Three weeks in Prague”

We had our last day of travel photography on Monday. It went really well, all we had to do was present our final PDF with all our assignments on it. This was mine:

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I then ate a lunch that I had packed the night before in the quick break between classes. Some of my other classmates got the Crocodille sandwiches and I’m pleased to report that I’m not the only one that doesn’t like them.

For our class we went to see a few buildings in Wenceslas Square before Professor Raimanová took us to the Municipal House. There was a little confusion with what exhibit we were seeing because she wanted to go to a certain exhibit but the security guard was arguing with her (in Czech of course so we had no clue what was happening). In the end, it was a funny error: she wanted to go to an exhibit that wasn’t yet open to the public.

Instead we went to a Blanka Matragi exhibit. She’s a Czech fashion designer and her dresses were interesting. Many were quite breathtaking but quite a few more were dated and very overdone.

After class we went back to K17 for a break before going souvenir shopping which is a chore in itself. I didn’t end up getting anything because I didn’t know what I wanted to get for everyone, but we did do some sightseeing and gelato eating.

We went to the public library which has a unique art installation before hitting up Creme de la Creme again.

On the way home we picked up some vegetables and spices from Billa because Jackie and I were craving vegetables/something healthy.

Okay, so maybe just Jackie was craving veggies but it kind of sounded good to me.

Anyway, I, for the first time in my life, successfully made a dinner of steamed veggies. It was delicious, for sure it’s something I’ll be making back home.

Due to the fact that I now know how to steam carrots and add packaged spice to a pot, I’d call today pretty successful.

Hey, Hey, Hey It’s our last weekend (in Prague)

So it’s getting to the end of my time in Prague. It’s actually a bit confusing because half of us continue on with the field tour while others do not (Emileigh and Jackie). Thus, some of us are getting the sad feeling of it being our last few days traveling when we still have over a week. Thus, we are trying to do as much as we can.

After our late night at Lucerna, we spent Saturday morning sleeping in before heading to Letná Beer Garden (which I hadn’t yet been to and everyone else had). It had absolutely amazing views and I think the terms “best beer garden in Prague” were being thrown around. Well, I only got this picture while I was there:

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Whoops.

It was still a nice (and yummy; shout out to Kingswood and fried cheese) time.

Then we went to The Globe which is an English bookstore Emileigh loves here. It was karaoke night, and that’s what we specifically went for. They served some rockin’ American food that will tide me over until I get back home (aka they put a massive bottle of ketchup on the table with our fires). I also tried another type of beer, a Kozel Černý which was decent.

We sat around with some of Emileigh’s students and sang for a few hours before heading home.

Also, you better bet I slayed that ABBA.

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Sunday was spent doing homework and stuff around the apartment. Going into the last week of class means we have term papers and finals due.I also went to Vyšehrad and the Podskalí Custom House by myself. Vyšehrad is a big park with a church and graveyard. It is really pretty, I just made a mistake by going at mid-day. THe Custom House is a museum about the history of the Vltava River. It was interesting, but really heavy in terms of reading. There were a lot of pictures which I looked at, but I didn’t see/read the whole exhibit. Once I went back to K17, I did manage to finish my photography paper early though and treated my self to Trdelnik and ice cream with Emileigh.

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We went to Wenceslas Square to get them and saw a film crew setting up. Being highly interested in what was going on, we stood around for probably thirty minutes. Eventually, two British girls came up and asked us what was happening. We got to chatting with them and learned they had just arrived in Prague and were looking for somewhere to eat so we took them to Old Town Square. It was hilarious because we were all so interested in each other’s political happenings, cultures, studies, and accents.

As Emileigh said, “it was just a wholesome and pure interaction.”

See the photos from Sunday here.

45-44

This Friday was the first Friday this whole trip where we didn’t have a field tour. Of course, we couldn’t sit in K17 like we always do. So we (meaning me, Megan, Brooke, and Emileigh) paired of into teams and we made a scavenger hunt for the other team. Emileigh and I were on the same team (Team Viper (I think… it was some type of snake).

Here’s the list we made for Team Hawk:

  1. Take pictures of either letters on signs or objects that resemble letters to spell out everyone’s favorite word: covfefe. 3 points.
  2. Visit the Riegrovy Sady beer garden (opens at 12 but if for some reason it is not open, go to a restaurant nearby instead) and get something to drink (here’s an opportunity to get lunch if you want…). Make sure you take a photo of the closed store if it is closed. 3 points.
  3. Visit the swan pond (in Mala Strana near Charles Bridge) and record Megan imitating the photography teacher (Megan will know what to say 😉 5 points. 2 Bonus Points if you feed the birds.
  4. Find the grave of Dvorak at Vysherad. 5 points. 2 Bonus points if you also take a picture of the weirdest name on a gravestone.
  5. You must ride the yellow line from terminating end to terminating end. It officially starts at Zlicin (you can of course take the metro to get there, but it doesn’t start until you begin coming from zlicin). You must ride it all the way to Cerny Most. However, when you reach Namesti Republiky, you must get off and walk to Florenc and continue to ride the metro all the way to cerny most. Take a picture at Cerny Most and Zlicin. 5 points.
  6. At Troja chateau, copy three different statue poses and take a picture at each (you each need to choose 3 for a total of six photos (and no repeating statues!)). Here’s a hint: go to the zoo. 5 points. 3 Bonus points if you get a stranger to pose as a statue in one of your photos (limit is one photo, so you can only get 3 points).
  7. Visit the Second Street Boutique (Jugoslavska 651/25) and you each pick out a crazy outfit for the other to try on. Take photos. If it is not open for some reason, go to Textile House behind Narodni Trida (by Kafka statue). Make sure you take a photo of the closed store if it is closed. 5 points.
  8. Sing America the Beautiful outside of the American Embassy. Make sure to film it. ‘Murica. 5 points.
  9. Have Brooke pretend to be a street performer in Old Town Square and Megan needs to record it. Don’t forget to set something out to collect tips in! 7 points. 2 Bonus points if you get some change.

There was also a number 10 but I have decided to leave that off to preserve the mystery (it was inappropriate).

Emileigh and I got our own list and off we went. I’ll be the first to admit, there was no fire lit below our butts. We were quite slow and made about four stops for food.

Naturally, the rules of the scavenger hunt dictated that you had to take pictures of everything. So we did.

Sadly, I will not post the videos of me Nae Nae-ing in front of three horse statues because I do not want that on my YouTube. What. A. Shame.

It was very, very hot so after doing as much of the list as we could, we headed back to K17, hoping to beat Brooke and Megan and to win the extra point.

We beat them by about an hour!

After the points were tallied up we came out victorious! By one point: 45-44!

That meant we didn’t have to dance first at Lucerna that night. Yes, Brooke and Megan had to get out on the semi-empty floor at Lucerna and liven the place up.

Between Brooke and Megan twriling each other on the dance floor to how many ABBA songs they played, the drinks, and this dude dressed as a fox(?) the night was pretty great.

I think I’m supposed to write about Thursday now…?

So, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m not that great at keeping up on my blog posts. I was especially not great this week. Without further ado:

We started off going to class Thursday. Professor Raimanová took us to a gallery and pallace near the Charles Bridge. Funnily enough, it was called the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace. The palace was under renovations, but Raimanová managed to talk the curator into letting us in. Afterwards, we saw the gallery which was full of very politically charged art which was nonetheless thought provoking. It wasn’t all political though, some of it was in response to how routine and everyday life has become and how we are even immune to the absolutely awful things (like terrorist attacks).

After spending an afternoon in K17, Megan, Brooke, Emileigh and I went to U Kroka. They, the meat eaters they are, all had delicious meals. Mine was eh, but I guess that’s what I get for ordering risotto. The dessert on the other hand was phenomenal.

It was Buttermilk cream with rhubarb, passion fruit and cinnamon crumble.

Brooke then left to go back to the apartment while the other three of us just wanted to walk around (we had heard live music playing and were following it). This ended up being a nice walk along the Vltava River which morphed into a spontaneous paddle boating adventure. We didn’t plan this (hence “spontaneous”) but we were out right at the perfect time to see sunset over the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.

It was even better because Megan and Emileigh sat in the front while I sat in the back. If you don’t know the basic layout of a paddle boat, there are only peddles in the front. I essentially got a free ride so overall it was a pretty good day.

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See the pictures from today here.

Krocodille and Caraoke

For a change of pace I actually studied on Wednesday. Crazy how studying abroad actually involves school work sometimes. We had a paper due in Art and Architecture on Thursday so I had to finish it. We had to write an analysis on a building in Prague– of course I chose Troja.

Later we once again got ice cream sandwiches for dinner. Parlor, the ice cream sandwich place, is too close to K17 to be healthy for us.

In my defense, I did go to the grocery store on the way back. Except the problem is that I still do not know how to shop here. Between there being different foods and an absence of the foods I’m familiar with (Albert’s frozen section only has vegetables and ice cream) everything is in Czech (frankly, I’ve gotten tired of holding my phone up to google-translate everything).

I got a crocodille sandwich for dinner: a sub that is sold in many convenience stores in Prague. The intriguing part is that they are sold in vending machines in the USAC building. Naturally, I had to try one.

Well, it will be the last one I will eat because it was gross.

After eating, my roommates and I had an impromptu karaoke/lip-sync night. It was mainly supposed to be lip-sync, but do you know how hard it is to not sing “Love is an Open Door” into your empty cider bottle/microphone?

Hella hard.

 

Rain Czech

What comes first, the rain or the rainy-day-attitude?

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Tuesday morning I slept in and took a long time to get up and moving. I spent most of the day in the apartment working on homework or trying to catch up on my blogging. I also made these dessert dumplings I bought (except the directions were in Czech so that was an adventure). They were really weird and I still don’t know if I liked them or not. It was the perfect rainy day!

Except there was no rain until mid-afternoon.

Eh, what can I say? Sometimes it’s nice to lay around.

I did go out at six though! Miranda, Emileigh and I met Kristina and Pavla (the girls we met last Tuesday through Miranda’s local friend). They took us to Crème de la Crème which they claimed was the best gelato shop (and I believe them!).

I got Lavender and chocolate gelato:

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It had also started to sprinkle rain on our way to the gelato shop. By the time we left it was pouring. The streets were flooding and I didn’t have an umbrella so I shared with Kristina while she tried to do navigation. Kristina took Miranda and I to a cute and kind of hidden cafe where the girl scouts she’s a part of (the Czech version of girl scouts which doesn’t involve selling cookies and seems overall to be way cooler) were doing a monthly guitar concert.

It was a great experience seeing this local cafe and how everyone interacts. The best part though was getting to hear traditional Czech songs. They played some English songs as well. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door… anyone?

Also, I’ve now sent this text so I feel like I’ve turned into my mom.


Mom, sorry for all the times I was impatient at dinner and rushed you to finish your wine.

That time when I finally went to Prague Castle

Monday started with my Travel photography course. Our professor took us to her studio which was a ten minute walk from the USAC building and we played with professional lighting while taking portraits. It was really cool of her to show us her studio and let us play around, now I can’t wait to use the studio back home more!

Afterwards, I went with a girl in my class, Catherine, and we got sandwiches quickly before riding the bus back to class. This time we weren’t late for Art and Architecture so that’s a plus!

One of the big tourist attractions here is Prague Castle. It is something I had put off doing for these few weeks because I knew we’d go for class (and frankly I didn’t want to buy a ticket since our class covers the cost when we go). Well, today was finally the day I saw Prague Castle up close and personal. You can see the buildings from the Prague Skyline, but I’d be willing to bet most people (like me when I first got to Prague) mistake the cathedral for the palace. The cathedral is the most noticeable building because it is so large but Prague Castle actually refers to a castle complex which includes the cathedral, a basilica, an old royal palace, Golden Lane and many other notable buildings.

Due to it being so large and made up of so many buildings, there are different architectural styles present at Prague Castle. Thus, we walked around and admired everything from the sgraffito on Ball-Game Hall to the gothic style cathedral to the simple but solid basilica.

 

In the garden there were birds of prey on display and you could hold any of the birds for 100 korunas.

A few of the members of my class jumped at the chance. Here is my professor holding a five kilogram (six kilograms including the glove) golden eagle:

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NBD.

While everyone wanted to hold the eagle, Alex, I was really tempted to hold a very small owl. My want was only fueled more by the fact that we were told you could pet the baby owl all over its little body (you were only allowed to touch the eagle’s stomach).

I gave into temptation. Meet Bob:

 

From the pictures, you wouldn’t be able to tell who was more unimpressed me or Bob. In reality though, I loved it (I just have resting bitch face). He was pretty unimpressed though.

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Bob was only a year old. And he was so soft. While I may have asked Jackie if I was a wimp for wanting to hold him instead of the massive eagle, I definitely made the right choice!

Later in the night nine of us from K17 went out to eat. It’s hard to accommodate a group that big though and we haven’t yet learned that we should make reservations, so we spent probably an hour walking around before wandering into James Dean Restaurant which is an American themed diner. While I was seriously tempted by the promise of a nice big heap of ketchup (something which is hard to find here and usually costs extra) made by the bottle sitting on the table, I ended up going for the mac and cheese, which was delicious.

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While I do miss some american foods like mac and cheese or ketchup, I do love the Czech food and will be sad to leave it behind soon.

See the pictures from today here.

It’s a jungle out here

Sunday morning USAC had a optional activity to go to the Prague Zoo! Originally, Alzbeta was going to do a scavenger hunt, but after we all got to the zoo we opted to just roam by ourselves (mainly because her scavenger hunt was too high risk: it involved the winners getting beer).

It was a kind of cold day, which was nice because it wasn’t too hot. Except it was raining off and on. We stayed at the zoo from eleven until two or three, roaming the paths and seeing the animals, making memes out of them. It really is a cool zoo, and I could see exactly why it is the fourth best zoo in the world!

The biggest shock was just how close you could get to all the animals! Europeans are a lot more trusting of their citizens than Americans (probably for a good reason).

We started at the bottom of the zoo and walked around before riding the funicular (which was a single person ski lift) to the top and worked our way downhill through the exhibits. We also stopped for lunch at the restaurant which had indian food! It was surprisingly tasty for zoo food!

While we were eating, it started to pour rain. So we speed-walked down the hill, with Emileigh and I trying not to spill our Kingswood Ciders while holding our umbrellas, and got on the bus to go home.

I spent the rest of the day napping and working on my blog before doing my homework for photography: egg pictures.

Then, the four roommates that were home went to get ice cream sandwiches for dinner.

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Ice cream sandwiches for dinner? Wild.

See the pictures from today here.

3 AM: all in a day’s work

I somehow managed to wake up at 3:40 am on Saturday to experience and photograph the Charles Bridge at sunrise.

Frankly it is amazing I woke up considering how often I snooze my alarms.

Megan and I left our apartment at 4:10 because the sunrise was at 4:45 and it is a 30 minute walk there.

It was stunning, and totally worth getting up for. I’d do it again (maybe on a cloudy day for better photos).

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Plus, we met this drunk guy that wanted me to take his picture:

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I had made plans for the whole day and was going to spend the day in the Lesser Quarter, checking things off my bucket list. The hard part was how to occupy the hours between sunrise and when things opened. Czechs don’t eat breakfast, so almost nowhere was open. I had planned on this and we went to Kampa Park and the Hunger Wall. Kampa park was really pretty, but since we were there at six am, it was erie and almost abandoned. The Hunger Wall sits at the bottom of Petřín Hill and is the home of a set of statues that are a memorial to the victims of communism.

It didn’t take three hours to do these things though, so we also walked around the Lesser Quarter (we saw the Lennon Wall again) before eating breakfast at Bohemia Bagel. Lowkey, I led Megan to three other closed breakfast places before finding Bohemia Bagel… so I was off to a good start.

We then went to the Fürstenberg Gardens, which are part of the royal gardens. We spent just under an hour there walking around and admiring the view of the Lesser Quarter and looking at the flowers. We started at the top of the gardens and walked downhill, which was great at the end because we could exit without walking up the hill to Prague Castle again!

Then, we revisited the Wallenstein Palace Gardens and St. Nicolas Church (which I had seen on Thursday but wanted to go back and take pictures of). This time, at Wallenstein we got to tour the inside, which is where the Czech Senate meets!

After St. Nicolas we climbed the stairs of the Town Belfry.

And boy were there stairs.

I’m not quite sure exactly how many we climbed but we climbed high enough to get this view:

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Worth it.

Next, we walked up Nerudova Street which is just a bunch of cute shops and restaurants. Near the top there is a vegan restaurant that I had been planning to eat at before Megan decided to come, but I didn’t want to drag a non-vegan/vegetarian to a vegan place. Luckily, Megan was a great sport and went anyway! At Vegan’s Fresh Food Prague I got a great taste of a traditional Czech dish that is usually made with meat: Svíčková.

It was Traditional Czech sauce made of marinated root vegetable with vegetable cream, with tempeh, cranberries, and home made dumplings and it was delicious!

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At this point I was ready to go home and bail on my plans to go to Petřín Hill. Megan was still willing to go though, so we rode the tram over before taking the Funicular to the top. We then walked downhill a bit, got some great views and then were pretty much ready to get home and sleep (at this point we’d been awake for eleven hours). We just couldn’t manage to find the way out/down Petřín Hill (it is massive) but eventually ended up near the Beer Garden and the Funicular stop that’s about three-fourths of the way up the hill.

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We got back to K17 at 3:30 where I laid down to nap until 7, when Miranda came over. We had made plans to go to Hany Banny (a pulp-fiction themed bar) right at 7 and I slept through my alarm so I got ready real quick and we left.

The bar was… interesting. But this was only because of a particularly rowdy and friendly group of twenty drunk German men in the middle of a bachelor party. While we were drinking we met quite a few of the men who came over and joined us. Miranda and I then went to Burrito Loco (the Germans ate her hamburger and I didn’t get food because I was afraid they’d eat mine to) which was amazing. The put a bunch of pickled vegetables on my burrito which at first was scary but it ended up being tasty! The margarita wasn’t bad either.

We weren’t out too late since we were meeting Alzbeta at Florenc at 10 am Sunday to go to the zoo, so Miranda and I got home around 11 by which point I was properly exhausted and went straight to bed.

See the pictures from today here.

 

Bones

Our second and final field tour was Friday. We spent the day in Kutná Hora, a town that’s about an hour outside of Prague.

We started at the Bone Chapel, which was the part of the trip I was most excited for (especially since the tour of the silver mine had been cancelled so instead we were going to a deer game reserve). The Bone Chapel is an ossuary that contains the bones of 40,000 medieval plague victims. These bones are arranged into various shapes such as a chandelier, a coat-of-arms, and cups. They are also piled into geometric piles in each corner of the chapel.

It was an amazing place, I was stunned by the creative, yet respectful use of the bones to form so many different things. It was also an erie place that reminded me of how you can be reduced to being anonymous so easily when you die. There was so little information about these bones and who they belonged to.

Afterwards, we visited two churches. First, the simple Sedlec Cathedral which is the oldest Cistercian cathedral in Bohemia. It has gone to ruin several times but now is restored and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The second church, St. Barbara’s Cathedral is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

St. Barbara’s Cathedral is a gothic building and it was much more showy than the Sedlec Cathedral.

I had previously thought flying buttresses to be ugly, but St. Barbara’s Cathedral may have changed my mind.

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Next, we got lunch as a treat from Jan, the program director. We all got to choose from two soups and then a list of about six entrees.

My soup was a bit intimidating at first because it came with a quail egg: a giant, soft boiled quail egg right in the middle of my soup. Luckily I was convinced to eat it and it was a highlight dish from my time here so far! I also ate fried cauliflower and mashed potatoes which were also good!

Finally, we stopped at the game reserve. I’m going to be honest, I was not excited for this. I was under the impression that we’d just be looking at a field of white-tailed deer, which I could do at home.

Instead, it was more comparable to a small zoo made of a bunch of game animals. The coolest part were the birds, who were simply tied by their leg to a stand and set out really close to visitors, without cages. That’s something you’d never see in America. The other highlight were the goats which would walk right up to the fence to get fed and a pair of geese that followed you around the fence and tried to intimidate you into feeding them with their small, sharp looking teeth.

The white deer were also pretty cool, I guess.

See the pictures from today here.

Midterm

I’ve been in Prague for 12 days. I have had my Art and Architecture class a total of three times. Today we had our midterm.IMG_5617 2.JPG

That was a bit weird. It has opened my eyes to how fast my time here is going. It’s certainly lit a fire in me to stop taking so many naps and spending so much time in my room.

With class we got to go see St. Nicholas Church and Wallenstein Palace gardens. I left my camera at home today, so it gives me a great excuse to return on Saturday and really spend some time photographing and exploring these places!

Afterwards, I stopped and got a cheap sandwich at a place near the metro and then went to the Museum of Communism.

It was really interesting seeing the history of Prague in relation to communism and it was shocking to realize that democracy is still such a new concept to this country.

I then walked up Wenceslas Square to Paul, where I probably stood for five minutes deciding what to get, before boarding the metro home with my raspberry eclair.

Later, Megan and I went to a pub that was about ten minutes away for dinner. I tried potato pancakes (which were good) and a Pilsner (which was not good).

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I do not think I am a beer person.

On our way back to K17, we stopped in a church that was open. It was in stark contrast to St. Nicholas which I’d seen earlier but it was still so beautiful.

Then I returned home with the intention of going to bed.

So, of course, when someone mentioned going to a bar, I jumped on the chance.

We went to AnonymouS Bar, which is a V for Vendetta themed bar. It was so hipster, for lack of a better term. You had to read parts of the menu with a blacklight, and other parts were by smell only or with a pair of glasses. Each cocktail came with a delightful presentation. I drank a Scarlett Rose, which had gin, cream, and egg white among other things. We didn’t get the full experience of the bar, mainly because I was tired by this point and eager to head home.

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Pasta for breakfast

My day started the way I like it: slow. I stayed in bed until it was time to head to the metro to meet Emileigh to eat.

Yep, I ended up eating pasta for breakfast.

But hey, at least it was fresh pasta! We could see them making it as we walked downstairs to our table.

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I think it has been the most expensive meal I’ve had since I got to Prague at almost 300 korunas. That’s still only $13. Not too bad.

After, we went and saw the astronomical clock since today was the last day it would be working for a while as the tower is undergoing renovations. We then walked around Old Town and got a little lost (which seems to always happen to me when I’m in old town) but we managed to see a lot of really cool things and just experience the city. Just simply walking around Prague is one of my favorite things to do.

Plus, when you et a little lost you find the best places… like this gelato shop:

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See the pictures from today here.

I should be dancing but it’s too hot

On Tuesday I didn’t get moving until the afternoon. I joined Jackie and other K17 people who were going to see the Dancing House and then get lunch. The second we stepped outside the building I started to sweat. I’m not going to lie: I debated turning around and going back into the apartment. I powered through, if only for the promise of food.

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The Dancing House was cool and all but it was so hot we were desperate to get inside. I plan to return and get coffee on the top.

We ate at a pizza restaurant before making my favorite stop of the day: Tesco. We were on a mission to buy fans. It is so hot in the city that I feel like I am always sticky from sweat. This abnormally hot day gave us the perfect excuse to get the fans, which we had to lug home on the metro.

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A few people walking by us did snicker but in the end, after a comfortable night’s rest (and by comfortable I mean about as comfortable as I’ll get with the stiff mattress), it was worth it.

Later Tuesday evening I went out with Miranda and Emileigh and met up with a local guy Miranda met through USAC, his girlfriend, and another friend. It was so cool and fun to spend a night with locals and be able to ask questions about their lives and bond over what we have in common.

For example, we all liked High School Musical.

Guess you could say we were connected by a feeling in our very souls.

Adventures in Relaxed Czech Culture

I got to wake up bright and early for class today. It’s funny because many of the USAC people have trouble because they wake up so early in the morning (the sun rises at 5 am) and then they can’t get back to sleep, but I do not have that problem.

We had our travel photography course which was enjoyable! I feel bad for our professor though because about two-thirds of the class dropped and now there are only nine students. Our next assignment is to take pictures of eggs, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, the project is inspired by Czech photographers, but on the other hand this is a TRAVEL photography course.

We got out from class early which was nice because that meant I got forty-five minutes to eat instead of thirty like I will normally have. Sadly, the Czech’s are not known for their speediness (which usually I do not mind) and I did not make it to class on time.

A group of people in the photo course and art course went to eat together at a great pub around the corner, but the food took forever. It was amazing food though, in massive portions! Czech culture is that eating out is the time for socializing (we don’t have a living room in our apartment, in fact I think Jackie and I’s bedroom used to be a living room, and the pubs and restaurants are for sitting with friends thus the waiters are in no rush to take your orders, bring you food, or bring the bill).

In the end, we were about ten minutes late to class. Our professor told us to start packing lunch.

For class we went to the Old City Hall and had a tour. It was really cool (both in the awe-inspiring way and because the basements were cold).

It was also Miranda’s 20th birthday, so we went out as a group. As far as drinks go, I keep (responsibly) narrowing down what I do and do not like. Sex on the Beach is a yes, while a Cosmopolitan and Aperol Spritz are both a no.

75042106-362A-4DDE-8C28-CDD3792624FA.JPGAnd quick shout out to my parents:

Hey guys, I promise I am not an alcoholic.

See the pictures from today here.

Much(a) Love

The longer I spend here, the faster the time is flying by. Just today my dad told me I’d been gone eleven days but I’d been pretty certain I’d only been gone a week. It’s scary but it’s also motivating me to get out more.

So, naturally, as the days are flying by, my time between posts is becoming longer. I swear that yesterday I was caught up and then I find myself having to work to recollect exactly what I did do each day.

Sunday Emileigh and I visited the Mucha exhibit at the Gallery of Art Prague. It was a really nice exhibit and it was so interesting seeing how this artist struggled so much and then has made it so big now (especially since half the exhibit was postcards and biscuit ads). But hey, that’s every artist’s story, right?

After seeing that, we walked around Old Town for a while. Emileigh has been to Prague before for a semester long study abroad, so she showed me some of her favorite souvenir shops. Then we stumbled upon a street market where I fell in love with the most delicious looking box of berries:

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At this point, it was half eaten and I had devoured the cherries, raspberries and blackberries…

I find two (probably closely related) things interesting about the fruit here:

  1. The fruits are bigger and longer
  2. You don’t need to wash the fruit and people just buy these little tubs with the small forks and eat them

But I’m not complaining.

That evening we had a small K17 dinner where the girls from downstairs made pasta and we all sat crammed in their kitchen and ate.IMG_5606.JPG

You can’t see me in this picture, but I am there! Like I said, it was crammed.

See the pictures from today here.

Oh, that’s just my summer chateau

While there was a extended Prague walk today, I opted out and instead went out on my own itinerary. Emileigh and I ventured on our own so that we wouldn’t feel rushed by the group (and so I could take pictures). Originally we went to a park but there was a festival going on so we last minute decided to visit Troja Chateau.

It was so easy to get to, we just took the metro to Nádraží Holešovice and then hopped on the 112 bus. We accidentally got off a stop early but it was more than okay because there was a delicious (and cheap) gelato shop there!

Troja is either a chateau or a palace, I have seen it called both and cannot figure out which. It is an amazing building that sits in what is now the suburbs, surrounded by large gardens. It was built in the late 1600s for the Counts of Sternberg. Emileigh had always wanted to go, and I could certainly see why.

It was stunning. The architecture, gardens, and sculptures were amazing. I’m thinking about doing my paper for my Art and Architecture class on the building, the only thing is there is so much to write about it!

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We also paid 60 Czk (which was a discount with our Charles University student ID) to tour the inside. We got to see several rooms that had their ceilings decorated in beautiful, significant murals.

The best was the intricate Grand Hall; every surface except the floor is covered in the frescos.

I was so glad that I had decided to go with Emileigh today, even tough it was by far the hottest day that Prague has had since I’ve arrived. I for sure plan to return to Troja at a different time of day to get more photos of the gardens in different, less harsh light.

See the pictures from today here.

Lucerna

One thing I love about Czechs… I love their love of ABBA.

We went to the club last night (May 26) and ABBA was played twice, and that was before they had even gotten to the top hits!

Lucerna is a popular club in Prague that does a 80s and 90s night. They project the original music videos onto a massive screen as well. They played a lot of songs I knew and quite a few I didn’t, but nothing got me quite as excited as ABBA (they played Voulez Vous and Super Trouper).

It was my first experience in a club that popular and I have a feeling many will not add up! There were many interesting characters there from all over the world. Plus, they had great drinks! Add mojitos and tequila sunrises to the list of drinks I approve of!

Power

On Friday Geiger took us on a field tour of Lidice, Terezín and Litoměřice.

Lidice was a erie town that was burnt to the ground by Nazis after they (wrongly) believed the assasins of Reinhard Heydrich to be in the town. Over 300 people died as a result, with all the men being shot and women put in concentration camps. Children were either put in a concentration camp or put with SS families if they were suitable for “germanization.” The Nazis used Lidice as an example for other cities.

It was so unsettling because the area is so beautiful and absent of civilization. It is terrible that there is so much beauty in the hills and open land where a town should stand.

After visiting Lidice, we went to the medieval town of Litoměřice to have a quick lunch. We also got to walk around the beautiful area and see some amazing views!

We then toured Terezín. It is a former military fortress that served many different purposes during its time: most notably a ghetto and concentration camp.

It was incredibly powerful.


I have never seen a concentration camp or been allowed to learn about the Holocaust in such a way. Among many things, I am beyond grateful that I live in a society where it is seen as important to preserve history in so many shapes and forms so that we can learn about and from the past.

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See the pictures from today here.

Getting into the Groove

I spent much of Wednesday with no set plans which was a nice change of pace and also allowed me to get some shopping done. I started late (because I slept in) and went out for breakfast. I took the metro to Národní Třída which is where the Tesco is and then walked around looking for a place to eat before shopping. I ended up at Mama’s Bakery where I ended up eating a sandwich for breakfast (happens when you eat breakfast at noon) and a key-lime tart (which is what the cashier said was her favorite). I now know how to say “Dobrý den” which means “hello” and “děkujuwhich means “thank you!”

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Then I went back to Tesco and stocked up on some things! After having felt confident in my ability to be at least a bit friendly in my conversations and ability to eventually make sense of the Czech language, I was confronted with a massive, foreign store. I at first didn’t understand that I would have to check out each time I left a floor (Tesco is six stories tall!) but luckily I saw someone else try to and set off the alarms so I was saved from that embarrassment. When I went to check out, I struggled to know what the cashiers were saying to me (I found out later they were asking if I needed a bag, you’re supposed to bring your own (which I did) and they charge you for plastic ones) but about the third time I checked out I finally understood (after the cashier made the gesture as if opening a bag and said “bag”).

I also spent way longer than any normal person should trying to kind conditioner and lotion. I found the conditioner but I’m still not 100% sure if the lotion I got is actually lotion…

I spent the rest of the day wandering around Old Town by myself. I took a lot of pictures and discovered a love for photographing street performers. I finally tried a Trdelnik with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. While it was good, I wasn’t in love with it. I’ll have to try it again just to make sure though. On my way home, I got off the metro and there was a large crowd in the station doing a Bohemian Salsa class! It was quite fun to watch and photograph!

Finally, I ended the night eating at a vegetarian restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I’m learning real fast that Czechs like to pickle everything!

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Thursday I had class at 9 am. There are seven of us in the apartment building that have class at 9 so we all went together. For our second day, we had the lovely experience of having the metro we needed be not working so we had to take a different metro and a bus instead. We made it just a tad late but I was so relieved that I was with friends and wouldn’t be the only one late!

Our professor took us to the National Gallery to see the work of Gerhard Richter which was really cool!

Jackie and I then grabbed lunch and came back to the apartment and took naps before going to dinner at a delicious pub down the road! I went to bed early after that because I wanted to get rest before the field tour on Friday.

Having these two days to kind of relax but also get to know the city more was really nice! I feel more comfortable now and I am so excited for the next weeks!

 

End of Day 2 (May 23)

 

I started day two by treating myself and sleeping in! I think I’ve finally gotten past the jet-lag!

I do not have classes on Tuesdays so I spent the day exploring with a group of people from my apartment building. We hit up Charles Bridge and Lesser Quarter before heading back to Old Town Square.

I ate Racelette for lunch which is potatoes, pickles and cheese. Essentially my favorite things! I also had a Kingswood Apple Cider (with ice because it was so frickin’ hot) and so far that takes the cake for the best alcoholic drink I’ve had (although it doesn’t have much competition with the Greenpeace Martini which had green peas in it being on the list).

Geiger, a member of the USAC staff, took a group of us on a walk. I was only warned afterwards that Geiger’s walks are anything but leisurely and are exhausting. He did give us the option to take the tram home less than half-way through and I jumped on that offer really fast, but not before getting a video of this view:

The language barrier was a bit more of a problem today for me. The ladies at the ice-cream shop didn’t speak English, but I still made it out with the best Peach and Nectarine soft-serve I’ve ever had. I also am finding myself slipping into Spanish while I’m here; it’s like I’m wanting to speak Czech. I now know “thank you” so hey, at least that’s progress.

See the pictures from today here.

Photo & Thoughts Dump from Arrival and Day 1

 

It’s been a helluva day, let me tell you that first. And I’m jet-lagged and oh-so-tired.

After a pretty uneventful (but uncomfortable) two flights the USAC people picked us (kids from the group flight who so far are amazing and nice people) and dropped us off at our apartments where we then lugged our bags up four or five flights of winding stairs.

I was thanking God I had repacked into a smaller bag.

The apartment is so cute. It’s a bit odd in some ways (my room used to be a living room so there’s no closet, just a ton of book shelves (9 to be exact) and the shower is in a room with only a sink and washer).

The other thing is that the keys are weirdly (and embarassingly) hard to work. There’s a gate, two doors and then the front door. We timed it yesterday and my roommate Jackie said it took 10 minutes to get from the gate to our room.

After unpacking we went to Wenceslas Square and then the bar downstairs where I had my first ever beer.

It was disgusting. Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have chosen the bitter one.

So far the language barrier isn’t bad at all! I for sure need to learn a few things (“excuse me” and “I’m sorry” to start). The only incident I’ve come across was a cashier at a store who seemed very impatient with me and my new credit card (understandable) it was just scary to not know what he was angrily saying.

We ended yesterday by meeting the entire USAC group, having dinner (here they just automatically give you a beer when you sit down), and walking around Old Town.

Then my day started at 7:30 this morning when I got up for class. I’m taking travel photography for one-credit and a art and architecture class for three credits. Travel photography came first, and I struggled so hard to stay awake.

We then had a general orientation before having lunch and then going back to class.

Spoiler alert: I could barely stay awake for that class either. But it’s okay because everyone else was falling asleep also.

The USAC people took groups to TESCO but I passed on that so I could return and nap, because boy do I need it.

Jet-lag is a bitch.

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I’m sitting in DIA and there’s a guy sitting across from me with sunglasses on.

I can’t see his eyes but I feel like he’s staring at me.

I’m worried he’s judging the size of my carry-on.

Do you see how preposterous this is? I’m about to go to Prague. I know how to say hello, which luckily (sometimes) doubles as goodbye but I feel like I am butchering the pronunciation of “Korunas” which I have shoved into my wallet. I have barely researched anything for this trip to such a new place.

I’m about to live abroad for five weeks, and my biggest concern is the size of my luggage. I’m hoping that that’s a good thing…?

But now he has taken his glasses off and I can see that he’s just tired, zoning out. He’s not judging me or my carry-on; he’s just really looking forward to this nine hour flight.

My bag (the one I re-packed this morning) is checked and headed for Prague. I have a totally unnecessary amount of Netflix pre-loaded into my phone. Mom and Dad took the obligatory picture of me standing in the airport holding my passport. “Watch out Prague! Here she comes!”

That’s right, here I come.