“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.

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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.

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.

 

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.

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.