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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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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.