Friday, June 5, 2009

Back in Prague

We are now back in Prague! Our first day back was Wednesday and we just did stuff around our hotel for the afternoon since there is a huge mall there. Yesterday we slept in wicked late and then did the tour of the Jewish Quarter and then walked around the Wenceslas Square area. Today we went to Karlovy Vary which is a spa town about two hours away from Prague. The town is really beautiful and it was where King Charles built his vacation spa. Now there are tons of spas and there are supposedly healing springs from which you are supposed to drink the water out of special cups. The water is all different temperatures and the different temperatures are supposed to have different healing qualities. They all kind of taste like metal. Amy and I bought the special cups and tried the different waters but they tasted pretty bad so we just took a sip of each. The we just explored the town since it was so pretty and then took the bus back to Prague. When we got back we picked our bags up at the hotel and then brought them to the new hotel and checked in. Then we went to dinner at Cafe Louvre which was of course very good. After that we went and picked up my giant suitcases at the kolej to bring them to the hotel. We had to take a taxi since they were so heavy though, but it was really cheap so it was not a big deal. Now we just have the weekend left in Prague and then home on Monday!


We took the overnight train from Paris to Venice. Our compartment was completely full, but it was a sleeper car so we got to fold down the beds and actually sleep, so it was not as bad as it could have been. Once we got there it was actually pretty easy to find our hotel because it was right by St. Mark's Square which is the main tourist area. When we got there we just walked around and explored and had lunch. This was actually what we did for most of the time we were there, we toured St. Mark's Square and went into the basilica but the rest of the time we just walked around and saw the city and did some shopping. Amy and I both bought leather bags. I really wanted to take a gondola ride but it was 100 euros! I figured it would be expensive but that was just ridiculous. When we switched hotels we took the water bus so we got to see the city on that anyway. The second hotel we were in for just one night and it took us forever to get to it because we had to wait almost an hour for the boat because one was too full for us to fit on and then we couldn't find it. Our room was huge though and had three beds for the two of us. I used one and Amy used the other two in one night. The hotel was kind of out of the city center, but this was good because we got to see a less touristy part of town and we were right near the bus station where we had to take the bus to the airport. On Wednesday morning we flew from Venice to Prague, which was actually cheaper and so much better than taking an overnight train.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


We have finally had nice weather! It has been beautiful in Paris, just a little windy. We took the train from Brussels and it only took a little over an hour. When we got here, we checked into the hotel and then walked around a little to find a place for dinner. All of the restaurants close to our hotel are Italian! There are a surprising amount of Italian restaurants in Paris, so we had pizza the first night.

We woke up and went to the Eiffel Tower. We just went outside of it because the line was ridiculously long and the entrance was not included in our Paris Pass and since it is a two day pass we wanted to do the things that were included first. So we walked over to the Musee d'Orsay and saw a lot of Paris along the way, it is really beautiful. The Eiffel Tower is a little different than I thought it would be, it looked lighter than it does in pictures. It was really cool though and I was not disappointed. The Musee d'Orsay was also awesome and I really liked all the paintings there, especially the impressionist ones. After that we went to the Louvre. The Louvre was huge and beautiful and overwhelming. We walked through some of it and saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. The Venus de Milo was wicked cool and looked just like she does in pictures and was really impressive. The Mona Lisa was cool too, but people have all been telling me I would be disappointed, so my expectations were very low. I really liked the painting though. One great thing about the Paris Pass was we got to cut the lines at a lot of places. After the Louvre we picked up sandwiches for lunch and went to Notre Dame. At Notre Dame we went into the cathedral which was beautiful and then waited in line to go up to the towers. This was a long line that we were not allowed to cut but it was completely worth it. There were two places we could go up to and they both had beautiful views. We also go to see one of the bells. There were so many stairs, when we got down we were so tired. But then we went over to the Arc d'Triomph and climbed more stairs! It was worth it again though. After the arc we walked around that area for a while, which seemed to be really expensive shopping streets and found a place to have crepes for dinner.

Today we woke up and went to Versailles. This was quite the journey because we got on three wrong trains before finding the right one that would take us there. When we finally got there we walked around the palace and saw the apartments and the outside. It was huge and gorgeous. Then we went out to the gardens. The gardens were also huge and beautiful. I really liked them and they were cool because you would just walk around then there would be a sort of courtyard with statues or decorative plants. There was also a man made pond where you could rent boats to paddle around but we did not do this. We hung out in the gardens for a while and then we headed back into the city. Once we were back we went to the Conciergie which used to be a prison and was where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned. There was a recreation of her cell and a normal prisoners cell. Hers had two guards, a bed and a desk while a normal cell was straw on the floor. It was actually a really pretty prison. After the Conciergie we came back to the hotel and relaxed for a little while. Then we walked around the area our hotel is in, at first it seemed like a residential area but then we found this cool street with tons of restaurants. Our hotel is actually in the Latin Quarter so we went to a Cuban restaurant! It was not as good as in Miami, but that is not surprising. Then we walked around that area for a while and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow we are doing some stuff around Paris then taking the overnight train to Venice!

Our hotel in Brussels had a bidet

Today in Brussels we started by going to the Grand Place. This is a square that is grand. It has many beautiful buildings, but there was a lot of construction going on that kind of took away from the full effect of the beauty. We also had Belgian waffles for breakfast because I had to eat a Belgian waffle in Belgium. After the Grand Place we went to the Chocolate Museum. At the museum they had the history of how chocolate was discovered and made and then there was a demonstration of how its made. This was really cool because the chocolatier showed how he made hollow chocolates and filled them and then he gave us samples. After the Chocolate Museum we went to the ruins of the Coudenbourg Palace. This was a huge underground archaeological site where the ruins of the old palace were. There were some school children filming a movie there or something and it was very strange but other than them we were the only people there. Then we went to the Museum of Musical Instruments which had tons of old musical instruments and you got head phones and as you walked by music played automatically. Once we were done there we took a break for lunch and then went to the EU Parliament and did the tour. It was really interesting and they had free tote bags because they were trying to encourage people to vote in the elections. After the tour we went to see a cathedral and headed back to the hotel to get our stuff and we are now on the train to Paris! The train tickets ended up being way more expensive than we thought they would be which was really disappointing but there was no other option since we have a hotel reservation for tonight. Overall, Brussels was a very beautiful city and very interesting since it is the home of the EU, but I don’t think we would have found much to do if we were there any longer than a day. I also had a very bad impression going into it because the train went through very old decrepit neighborhoods and a red light district, but luckily my opinion changed very quickly once we actually got into the city.

Amy didn't bring a jacket to Europe


We arrived in Amsterdam on Monday morning and once we got there we took the tram to our hotel. Luckily our room was ready even though we were early, so we took a shower since we felt gross from the train and then we went to see the city. We walked around for a while and saw the Dam which is the main center square, some of the shopping streets and a few of the museums. Then we decided to buy the Holland Pass which gives you free entry to five museums and a bunch of other discounts. We decided to do this instead of the I Amsterdam card because it was cheaper, it wasn’t limited to 24 hours and what we wanted to do was included. After we did the tour we walked around a little more and then we did the Canal Tour. The Canal Tour was really cool because it took us down the main canals and showed and explained the history behind the major sights of the city. It was lucky that we did that tour on Monday because it rained all day on Tuesday and was pretty cold on Wednesday. We seem to be bringing bad weather with us. After the canal tour we walked around the Red Light District a little bit and then headed toward the area where our hotel was and found this square with a bunch of restaurants. We had dinner and just hung out there for a while because it was a nice night.

On Tuesday it was Amy’s birthday! We got up and went to Madame Tussaud’s first thing in the morning. We got to cut the line there and at the Rijksmuseum because of the Holland Pass. This was very fun and we took pictures with all the celebrities. Then we went to the Rijksmuseum and saw the paintings. This museum was a lot smaller than I expected and not as impressive as I thought it would be. It was still a good thing to go and see though. After the Rijksmuseum we had lunch. Every day for lunch I just had a sandwich with Dutch cheese which is delicious. Once we were done eating we went to the Museum of Bags and Purses. As we all know, this is my kind of museum. We saw bags that were used all through history and there were some really gross ones with actual lizards, crocodiles and other animals on them. They also had samples of all the different skins and leathers bags are made of which was kind of disgusting. But I actually loved this museum and seeing all the designs and different types of bags. It was like shopping at a really expensive store I couldn’t afford, only better because no one else could buy anything either. Then we went to Gassan Diamonds, which is a diamond factory that has a free tour. When we got there we went and got the ticket and then got to have free coffee and tea in the cafĂ©. Then we did the tour and they told us about how diamonds are cut and polished for jewelry and how they are judged for their worth (cut, clarity, color and carat). Then the guide took us to see some diamonds and just put them on the table for us to see. The most popular cut is the princess cut which has 57 facets and is used all over the world, but Gassan invented a new one which has 121 facets and it’s the only company that makes it, so we got to see the difference between these. After this the guide took out boxes of rings for us to look at and TRY ON! Each one had the description of the diamond and the price on it and there was over 100000 euros worth of diamonds just sitting on the table for us to try on. It was wicked cool. I think a few people actually bought stuff. Then we didn’t know what to do so we had some more free tea and then went to the hotel and changed my shoes because my feet were cold. Then we had some time to kill so we went to the Vodka Museum. This was kind of cool, basically Russia dominates vodka and during World War II the Russian government could not afford to pay their soldiers so they paid them in vodka. We did get a free drink with the tour though. After this we did the tour of the Red Light District. This was cool because the guide showed us a lot of interesting stuff that we would never have noticed just walking around by ourselves. We also learned some stuff like only 25% of the prostitutes are Dutch, they make about 50 euro for 50 minutes, but the girls on the “African” street only make 35 euro for 50 minutes, it costs 150 euro to rent a window for a day and all the girls have panic buttons in their rooms so that they police can be there if they need them. In the middle of the Red Light District there is also a day care center and a church. The streets surrounding it are also very wealthy and it’s an expensive area to live in. A prostitute was murdered two months ago in the Red Light District but before that the last murder was in 2001, so its actually a pretty safe area to walk around in, you just have to watch out for pick pockets. At the end of the tour we got another free drink and then we went to dinner for Amy’s birthday. We actually had trouble finding a place that was serving food since it was past 10 PM and things close pretty early, but we ended up going to a place in the same square we went the night before and it was really good.

Today we checked out of the hotel and went to the Anne Frank Huis. I had been there before but Amy wanted to go. It is a very interesting place to go but also very sad. After that we went to the Houseboat Museum which was a houseboat turned into a museum where you could see what its like to live on a houseboat. Then we walked around for a little while and I bought a pair of shoes. Then we went to the dam and met up with my friend Nadine for lunch and hung out with her for a little while. After that we went back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and went to the train station to go to Brussels. We are actually on the train to Brussels right now and should be there around 6PM.

Copenhagen 2


On Saturday we started out by going to the National Museum. This was pretty interesting because it had a lot of modern and cultural things but it also started with ancient history. After the museum we walked around Christiansborg Palace. This palace was actually burned down twice and rebuilt several times because of the fires and being out of date compared to other palaces. Underneath the castle are the ruins from the first two that were destroyed. This was also really cool to see because the ground used to be so much lower. After the ruins we went to the Round Tower. This is literally a round tower with an observatory on the top where you can see the whole city. Then we walked around for a while and decided to walk over to Christiana which used to be a commune and is now the alternative part of Copenhagen. But we couldn’t find anything interesting so we just sat by a lake for a little while.


Sunday we were going to go to Tivoli Gardens but it was raining. So then we had no idea what to do but we knew that an amusement park wouldn’t be fun in the rain. It was also wicked expensive because you had to pay to get in and pay to go on rides. So we decided to go to Glypotek which is an art museum. It was free for those of us who are under 18…and maybe other people because I didn’t actually see anyone else buying tickets but it was listed as free under 18. After the museum we went to Christiansborg to do the tour of the Danish Parliament. We picked up the tickets and then still had some time so we saw the Palace Chapel. This church was really pretty and was not like a normal church, it did not have lots of stained glass or anything, it was really light and had columns in it. The tour of Parliament was interesting because we got to hear about how the voting works and see where everything happens. We also saw the Danish Constitution and heard a lot about the history. After the tour of Parliament we had lunch. Then there was not much to do so we walked around for a while and then went back to the hotel, picked up our bags and went to the train station to get the overnight train to Amsterdam. As I write this, it is 9AM and we are about an hour away. I was very surprised I actually kind of slept last night on the train and once the people who were in our compartment left we were both able to spread out and actually sleep. When we get off the train we are going to drop our stuff off at the hotel and go see Amsterdam!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Amy arrived in Prague on Wednesday and then yesterday I just showed her the major sights of the city, the castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the John Lennon Wall and Petrin Hill. Today we flew to Copenhagen! I had to pack up my entire room and say goodbye to everyone which was really sad. I stored my luggage at the kolej because we're going back to Prague at the end of our trip.

The flight to Copenhagen was only about an hour and ten minutes so we got in at 11:40. Then we took a train to the main station and then walked to the hotel. We got to check in early and then we went out and had lunch. Lunch was very expensive but good, everything in this city is expensive. After lunch we walked basically from one end of the city to the other to see the Little Mermaid Statue, which is Copenhagen's most visited spot. On the way there we saw the Amalienborg Palace which was really pretty. After the statue we walked around for a while and went to the Guinness World Records Museum, which was really cool and had tons of exhibits about strange records. Then we walked up and down one of the shopping streets. It was raining on and off throughout the day which was unfortunate because I forgot to take my umbrella with me. It is also colder here than I expected, I knew it would be colder but everyone here is still wearing jackets and scarves (which seems a little unnecessary but it is chilly). After the museum we continued our walk back and we got ice cream. I got soft serve on Belgian waffle which was wicked good. Then we walked the rest of the way back and we are just hanging out because we are exhausted and walked a lot today.

Monday, May 11, 2009


This weekend in Istanbul was an amazing trip. It was by far the most foreign feeling city that I've been to and I definitely felt like I was in a completely different culture. Other places that I've visited felt different, but still western and similar, while in Istanbul I felt like an outsider. People immediately knew that I was a tourist because I am really white and I think the only person I saw in the country with red hair. Even though all of the girls dressed conservatively, I have never felt so promiscuous wearing three quarter sleeves and long pants. Aside from the tourists, who mostly covered the same amount as we did, many women were wearing long skirts and jackets or long pants, long sleeves and an ankle length overcoat with a head scarf. Many other women were wearing head scarves, long sleeves and long pants but their outfits were more western looking. There were even some women in burkhas and revealing burkhas where their noses showed. We were staying in the conservative side of town by the mosques, but throughout the city women dressed conservatively, even on the "European" side where more women did not have their heads covered, but still a lot did. Something that I found very strange about the dressing conservatively was that the men were wearing complete western clothing. Most of them did wear pants and many wore long sleeve shirts because its a culture of modesty but I thought it was strange that women were wearing a hundred layers while the men could do whatever they want. Also, there were a lot of couples walking around holding hands and canoodling and I couldn't understand why this was allowed but the women had to hide themselves. Then at night we mostly saw men out and no women. Whenever we were walking around we were especially harassed by men wanting us to come to their restaurants or just making comments because we were tourists. Note there were no women doing this, there were a lot less women working in restaurants or stores in general. I guess that this modesty makes sense because the country is 98% Muslim but it just made me wonder what a more conservative country is like becuase Turkey is known as the liberal Muslim country and wants to join the EU by 2014. Overall, I really liked the trip and the city and felt comfortable there but I would never want to live there because after a few days the comments were getting annoying and I think that it was actually pretty oppressive to women even though it was more liberal than other countries.

Thursday: We left for the airport around 3:30 and our flight was supposed to be at 6:25 but it was delayed until 8, which was boring because we had to sit in the airport for longer. The flight was only about two hours and there was an hour time change. As the plane landed I could see the Blue Mosque and some other mosques from the sky. The city was really built up and it was really cool to see everything as I was coming in. When we landed one of our tour guide, Eva's, friends met us at the airport with his bus and took us to the hotel. The hotel was small but very cute and a nice place to stay, especially since it had free breakfast. We got there around midnight and went on a short walk to see the Aya Sofiya and the Blue Mosque at night, when there was no one around and they were beautiful.

Friday: Friday was our big tourist day. Very early in the morning I was awoken by the call to prayer and very confused but went back to sleep. Hearing the call to prayer throughout the city multiple times a day was really cool and at one point I actually saw people lined up outside a mosque praying on the sidewalk. After breakfast we started at the Aya Sofiya (Hagia Sophia) which was gorgeous and huge. We went inside and had a tour guide and also got to walk around by ourselves to see everything. It used to be a Christian church so there were actually crosses all around it. The Aya Sofiya is now a museum and there are no longer services there. Then we went to the Blue Mosque which we had to go through pretty quickly because Friday is when there are longer services but we had some time to sit on the floor and our tour guide told us about it. The floor was very comfortable because the idea is that people should be comfortable and enjoy praying. I also saw where the men were praying but the women's area was on the second floor and we did not have time to go up there. Inside of the mosque it was really beautiful and decorated in tiles with blue designs on them, which is how it got the name. Inside we had to wear head scarves and have our knees and elbows covered. My dress was an inch shorter than my knees and I was wearing tights and the man at the entrance originally let me through but then called me back and gave me and ankle length "skirt" to wrap around my waist. I think that the Blue Mosque was one of my favorite sights because it was really beautiful outside andd gorgeous on the inside. After we went there, we had a break for lunch. We ate at a little cafe and had kebaps for lunch which were very good. Then we went to the Sultan's Palace and walked around the gardens and went to the harem and the treasury. I do not really know how to describe it, but I will put up pictures. After the palace we walked around for a while then relaxed a little and we went to a show that night. We saw whirling derwishes which are some sort of religious figures who whirl. It was a pretty cool show but I was tired and spaced out a lot of it because the music was really relaxing. The performance was at the train station which was really nice and was the final stop on the Orient Express. Once the show was over we went to dinner at a Turkish restaurant where we sat on cushions/ a little couch on the floor. This was where I discovered apple tea which is a Turkish drink and is basically hot apple juice but really good. It is also where I had the best hummus I ever had. Before we went to dinner we actually bought some candy to eat after. This was an experience in itself. We bought lokum, which is Turkish delight and is just different sorts of chewy candy, in different flavors and some have nuts and then some baklava. As we were waiting in line, we were just talking and laughing and I was laughing about something and turned my head and there was a Turkish man. He started laughing at me and then decided he should pet me. For some reason he really liked my hair. Needless to say I went back to the hotel and took a shower.

Saturday: Saturday we went to the Grand Bazaar, which is the biggest shopping place ever and has over 4000 shops. We were there for a few hours and did lots of souvenir shopping and then got very overwhelmed and went to lunch. To shop there you had to bargain with the people and I don't think I was very good at this and probably spent more than I should have but whatever. As we were walking around there were three girls and one guy so we got many comments such as "Its Charlie and his angels!" "Hey Spice Girls!" "You're short, but you're pretty" "Why is he mean to you, you are so prettty!" They seemed to think that this would make us want to shop there. Whenever we were asked where we were from we said Prague so that they would not know we were American. When we were done with the bazaar we wanted to go to the oceanso we just walked downhill until we reached it. We had fish on a roll for lunch and then just walked around and sat by the sea sporadically. It was while we were sitting that my friend Tim thought it would be funny to try to sell us to some Turkish teenagers, because human trafficking is a big thing there. I don't think they spoke English so we were fine. Saturday night we walked to the European side of town. Everywhere we were was actually Europe and we did not go to the Asian part but this part was considered European because it is across from the very conservative religious side and is where the academics and intellectuals would hang out. We had dinner at a fish restaurant there and they gave us free tea and french fries. Once you are in a restaurant and off the street Turkish people are extremely friendly and nice and do not heckle you. After dinner we walked to the end of the street, to Taksim square and took the tram back to our hotel. We could not walk back because Eva told us that the area we had gone through to get there beecame kind of dangerous at night. Then when we were back in our part of the city we stopped at a hookah bar where business men apparently go after work. One of the men started talking to us and they were all very friendly. He also said that he had onlyy learned English from working in a hotel and he spoke very well. This was when we especialy realized that only men were out and no women except tourists were around. This was fine because we were in the conservative part of the city so I still felt safe but it was very strange and I was just wondering what they could have been doing. While we were there a girl walking down the street fell and people from every table got up to help her. This also showed us how helpful the Turks are because if that was Prague (ormany other cities) most people would have just walked around her. We actually saw one of the guys we met the next day outside his hotel and he said hello and we just ignored him because we thought he was just another person from a restaurant or just in the street harassing us. Then we realized it was Ottoman the Friendly Turk and felt bad and said hello.

Sunday: We woke up early on Sunday morning to go to the Basilica Cistern. This was built hundreds of years ago to hold water for the city and protect it from being poisoned by enemies. The walls were actually several feet thick to protect it and it was huge. The columns inside were gorgeous and they reflected perfectly off the water so it looked almost exactly the same. There were also two columns of Medusa's face, one tilted to the side and one upside down. It was really cool. After the cistern we did a little shopping to get postcards and little things and then packed up our stuff to go home. Then we went and had lunch in between the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofiya. I had a bagel, it was different than a bagel at home because it wasn't as thick. After lunch we went back to the hotel and we left for the airport. We again took a little bus and it was really kind of scary because the streets are wicked narrow and hilly, but once we reached the highway it was fine. The flight back was on time and they gave us dinner again which was ok. I had to check my bag this time because I bought so much stuff. Then we came back to Prague!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

This weekend is my last full weekend in Prague because next weekend I'm going to Istanbul and then the one after I'm going to Bratislava but just for one night. Because of this Joanna and I decided we had to make the most of our weekend. On Thursday we went to dinner at a really good vegetarian place and then we tried to go to a witch burning. In Prague they burn witches to bring in the spring. Unfortunately we were a little late so we did not get to see the witch being burned but we did get to see lots of high school kids throwing up. Yesterday we went to the good Bohemia Bagel for burger weekend. All the Bohemia Bagels are good but this one has burger weekends, which is how it got this name. This was after we did some work in the morning and I wrote the first half of my paper. After lunch we went to this Vietnamese market that was very similar to Canal Street in New York. I got some Versace sunglasses which were a special prices since I was her special friend. Then I got a scarf for Istanbul since we have to cover our heads at some places. Then after the market we came back, I finished writing my paper and then we had dinner and went out for the night. Today we went to Divoka Sarka which is a really pretty hill and valley in Prague. We walked up to the top of the hill and had a picnic and got to see tons of rocks and had great views of the city. It was really steep on the way up and I was wearing sandals because I thought it was just a walking path type thing so it was a little tough but it was completely worth it. Then we just sat there and read for a while and came back to our room. Tonight we are going to Cafe Savoy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lidice Pictures


Today I went to Lidice. This is a village about a half an hour outside of Prague and in World War 2 it was completely destroyed by the Nazis as revenge on the Czech people after the assassination of Heydrich. The Nazis executed all of the men in the town, sent the women to concentration camps and most of the children were also sent to concentration camps. The men actually had to walk past their friends and neighbors dead bodies to be executed themselves. Many of the children were murdered and I think it was only something like 17 children survived the war out of about 100 in the town. After killing all the men and sending everyone else away the Nazis burned the town to the ground and blew up all of the buildings. This was all to get back at the Czechs for the assassination of one evil man. The tour guide told us that one of the Nazi officers son came to the memorial and after the tour told her what his father did and said he was proud of him. I was disgusted when I heard this story, especially after seeing all of the pictures of the people and children who died and how happy they looked just days before. The memorial was actually beautiful but it was very strange to think that all of what is now just a grassy area used to be people's homes. There was also a church from the 1300s that was destroyed along with pubs and stores that were in the village. Walking through this memorial was very strange because it was beautiful but also haunting thinking about what it represents. It was also strange to me that there were a few families just walking and playing with their children as if it were a normal park.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ccesky Raj Pictures

Here are the pictures from Cesky Raj!

Cesky Raj

Yesterday we went on a day trip to Cesky Raj. It is known as Czech paradise, or Czech Eden and it was true to this name. This region was so beautiful and we began our day with a short hike. It was about an hour and a half away from Prague and by the time we got there I had to pee wicked bad. But there were no bathrooms. I thought I could hold it but with every step I felt my bladder pinching (which is on my arm...inside joke haha). So that kind of took away from the hiking but the view made it worth it. We climbed over a bunch of rocks to get to the top (it wasn't that high but it was kind of steep). We could see the whole Czech countryside. I really enjoyed this part of the day because there were tons of rocks to walk over and around and I was definitely at the top of the Czech Republic. After we climbed over the rocks we made our way back down and desperate times came to desperate measures and I had to pee in the woods. As you may know, I went to summer camp for 10 years and never peed in the woods so this was overcoming a personal challenge.

Then after our hike we went to the Czech garnet factory and we saw people looking for garnets in piles of rocks, creating jewellery molds, putting jewellery together and the final pieces. It was really cool to see how they do this.

After the garnet factory we went into the little town to have lunch. Apparently the electricity was out in the restaurant we went to so we could only get certain foods. Joanna ordered spaghetti with sauce and I ordered tortellini. So the waiter brought us both spaghetti with cream sauce and ham. This created a few problems for us, including kosher, vegetarian and lactose intolerant. Luckily this lunch was very cheap and so we found cafe and got coffee and I got a cookie after. After lunch we went to a bead workshop and we saw a woman making beads and we were able to look at all the ones that had been made there and buy some jewellery.

After the bead workshop we went to a castle. The drive up to it was really steep and windy and narrow and scary to do on a bus. There were a few points where I saw myself falling to my death trapped in a bus. Luckily I survived but on the way down we had a few near misses with other busses and some pedestrians. The castle ended up actually being closed so we could only walk around it but it was made out of sandstone and parts of it were in ruins. There were a ton of rocks around it that we walked on and had a great view of the little town. Then we headed back to Prague.

Last night I went to this bar/club with some of my friends and it was a lot of fun. Some guy told me that I was a good dancer and I laughed at him because that is one of the most untrue statements I have ever heard. Today Joanna and I are going to go to a park and do some work outside if it gets warm enough because it is nice and sunny. Tomorrow we are going to Lidice.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pictures from the Netherlands!

Here are my pictures from my trip to the Netherlands! Don't confuse the miniature pictures with the real thing!

Vienna Pictures

I know its a little late but here are my pictures from Vienna.
This weekend I went to visit my friend from camp, Nadine, in the Netherlands. She lives just outside the city and I stayed with her family, it was a lot of fun.

Thursday: My flight got into the Amsterdam Airport around 2PM. Nadine met me at the airport and then we took the bus to her house which was about 4 minutes from the bus stop. When we got to her house I just put my stuff down and then she showed me around her town. I had to ride a bike which was quite the experience considering I haven't ridden one in years. Once I was on it was fine but it was higher than I was used to so I had to reteach myself how to get on and off. It was also even more embarrassing since Nadine was going with no hands, texting, putting on her coat and turning around and I was staring straight ahead praying I wouldn't fall. But anway, we walked around the town for a little while and then just hung out and walked around near her house for a while.

Friday: After being locked out of the house for a little while and Nadine's mom coming home with the key we went into Amsterdam. The firsts thing we did was go to the Anne Frank House. The line looked really long but it actually went pretty quickly. The house was very interesting because we could see wheere they lived, hid and guess at what it felt like to be there. Her diary was also there and it made it very real to see that and to also see interviews with Miep Gees and Otto Frank. After the Anne Frank House we had lunch and then went to to Van Gogh Museum. This was really cool because the Colors of the Night Exhibition was there and we saw the Starry Starry Night Painting, which was very impressive to see in person. Then we walked around the city for a while and saw the Red Light District and just the city in general. The Red Light District was very strange and we just walked fast because we were some of the only girls there (besides the prostitutes). On the way back to Nadine's house we had this really good ice cream that was ice cream mixed with whipped cream.

Saturday: In the morning we drove to the Madurdam which is a park with models of the entire Netherlands in miniature. As we were driving there we drove through the Hague and I got to see a ton of the country, which is reallyy beautiful. Madurodam was really cool and I saw the couple places I was in and then the models of a ton of other places. You could also put money in or press a button to make some of the models move, so of course we did this at the candy factory model and it gave us a little Mars bar. After Madurodam we went to Scheveningen (?). This was a town right on the North Sea with a bunch of restaurants. We went to one of them for lunch and then we walked around the beach and I got a picture with my feet in the water which was wicked cool. We also walked on the pier and saw a man bungee jumping. Then we got ice cream and drove back to Nadine's house. That night I went to a volleyball tournament with Nadine's family. It was really fun but I suck at volleyball so I felt kind of bad for my team.

Sunday: We slept in and did a little homework in the morning. Then we got back on the bikes to see all the flowers. The biking went much better this time, I only had one near death experience. Well, maybe two. Nadine lives in Lisserbroek which is right next to Lisse which is famous for the flower gardens and fields. The huge famous garden is there but we didn't go there because it was wicked crowded. Instead we rode around the town and around the fields which were wicked pretty. Then we sat at an outdoor cafe and I tried bittenballen which is a typical Dutch food that has meat in it. There was only a really tiny bit in it though so it doesn't count as me eating meat. Then we went back to her house and hung out for a while until my flight which was supposed to be at 7:30 but was delayed until 8.

This weekend was really fun. It was great weather most of the time which was really lucky.

For Howard: For breakfast we had these chocolate sprinkle things that actually tasted like chocolate and not just sugar on bread which were really good. I also had cookies that were like thing crunchy waffles with some sort of caramel in the middle. Then I tried the bittenballen and Nadine's mom made a strawberry rhubarb thing that was also really good.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This week my parents came to Prague. They stayed at an apartment very close to the kolej so I could walk there and meet them. With the apartment came the tour guide Katarina. She is extremely nice and knowledgeable and gives very detailed tours of Prague and any where in the Czech Republic. The first day I was there I walked up to the apartment to meet them, as mom had told me to, and no one was there. They forgot about me. So I went back to the kolej and waited for them and then we had an early dinner at the monk restaurant because I was hungry and I wanted to go to one of the other literature classes open mike night. So then I went to the open mike night and it was really good. After that I met the Howitzer and my mom at Cafe Louvre for dessert.

The next day my dad and I went running in the morning and then I went back to my room to shower and have kolej breakfast. Unfortunately when I went to shower there was no hot water! Luckily I was able to just walk up to the apartment and shower there. Then we went to the Lubkowic Museum and walked around Prague for a while and eventually had a lunch of fried street food in Old Town Square. After that we met up with Katarina for our tour. She took us to the Jewish Quarter but everything was closed because it was Passover so we could only look at everything from the outside. Then we went around Old Town Square and she told us the history of everything. This all took four hours and was very tiring. It was very informative though.

On Friday we went to Terezin. Terezin was a fortress originally built for military battles. It was then turned into a work camp where people would go during World War II and the Holocaust before being shipped off the concentration camps. It was an extremely disturbing place and Jan's mother actually died there. We saw rooms where prisoners were kept and hundreds of people would live in places meant to hold maybe 20. There were also cells where people would be forced to sit in the dark and others that did not provide enough oxygen. These places would be freezing in the winter and hot in the summer and it these were obviously terrible conditions for people to live in. People in this camp were forced to lay the railroad tracks that would be taken to the extermination camps. Terezin was also used as the show camp for the Red Cross to show them that prisoners were being treated well and had a show bathroom that was never used and did not actually function. It was also where people were involved in the arts and the Nazis took advantage of this to show that it was a place where Jews could live separate from others and with their own kind. It was very disturbing. What was even more disgusting was the fact that the officers had a swimming pool and nice apartments for themselves to use and prisoners would only discover this before they were about to be executed. Going to Terezin was a very strange and sad experience. Another thing that I found very strange is that people still live in the town. We saw kids playing in the park and people just walking around. They were also riding their bikes and walking on the train tracks.

On Saturday we did something a little more upbeat for their last day in Prague. We went to Karlstejn Castle. It was less than an hour away and was at the top of a giant hill. We walked up there and the views were spectacular. We did a tour of the castle and were also able to walk around the outside and see the beautiful views. After the castle we headed back to Prague where Mom and I went shopping at Wenceslas Square since I did not realize that the weather would get this warm in Prague and I did not actually bring any spring clothes. Then we went back and relaxed and wanted to go to dinner at the other monk restuarant but for some reason it was closed. So we went to another place that ended up being very good and we sat inside but had a great view of all of Prague. After dinner we just went to the Hanging Coffee Pot for a drink because they wanted to see it and then we just hung out in the kolej for a few minutes because my parents had to wake up early for their flight home.

On Sunday my friends and I went to Radost for Easter brunch. It was really good and we had a lot of fun. Then Joanna and I went to the grocery store and walked there since it was such a nice day.

Today we did not have classes since it is Easter monday. On Easter Monday in the Czech Republic the boys whip the girls. It is a very strange tradition. While I was running I ran past some young teenage boys with a whip and one start to run behind me. This would have been extremely scary if I did not know that it was just a tradition so I turned around and just stared at them so they stopped. They looked about 14 so they probably thought I was their age. Then later we all went to a really nice park and just hung out and read for a while.

Something I forgot to write after Budapest.

Howard has been bothering me to write about this in my blog for a while. While we were in Budapest there is a street that ladies of the night like to frequent. Apparently while he was walking alone when we were coming back from the baths several of them approached him to ask where the Irish Bar was. This makes sense because Howie's Irish, he has red hair. Anyways, he is a "chick magnet". We did not believe this so later that night when the four of us were walking around we made him walk a little bit in front of us to see if any more would approach him. They did within about 30 seconds. It was an interesting show to watch as they were approaching any man who was alone and asking him if he spoke English, saying they were lost, talking to them etc.

Monday, April 6, 2009

This weekend I met Howard and Lorraine in Budapest with my roommate Joanna. We had lots of fun. Since it was a trip with Howard we ate a lot but the food was not that great.

Thursday: Joanna and I flew in to Budapest and then took a cab to the hotel. Our plane was tiny and had propellers. When the pilot started the plane one of the propellers didn't start spinning so I got really nervous that the pilot wouldn't notice. Luckily it started spinning and we took off fine. When we were landing though it was really bumpy and at one point I thought we were going to do a barrel role. But we ended up making it out alive. We stayed at the Sofitel Budapest and it was beautiful! We were so excited to have a not rock hard kolej bed. When we got there they let us check into the room even though my parents flight was delayed. Then Joanna and I walked around the city for a little while and had lunch. We were shocked by how warm it was when we got there! The weather was beautiful all weekend. While we were walking around we sat in front a beautiful building but had no idea what it was. We later found out that it was Parliament. After our walk we went back to the hotel, sat in the cafe for a little while and had a drink and waited for Howitzer and LL to arrive. Once they were there we went to dinner, walked around for a little while to see the city at night and then went to bed.

Friday: On Friday we did the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. This bus goes to all the main tourist spots and you can get on and get off wherever you want. We got to see a ton of sights this way. While we were seeing the city we had a really bad lunch. So then we walked around for a little and went to a cafe for cake. Mom's chocolate cake was ok, Howard's apple strudel was good, Joanna's gelato was good and my cake was pretty good but it had marzipan in it that was really good. Then later in the afternoon Joanna, Mom and I went to the baths. We got to take a luxurious Sofitel taxi on the way there but we took the subway back since it was faster. Luckily everyone at the baths wore bathing suits. We went into a warm pool, a hot pool and a sauna and it was a lot of fun to be able to be outside and relax. Then when we were done with the baths we went to the Easter market to look around and have dinner. We all tried different stuff from the stands for dinner and some of it was pretty good, like the turkey kebab I got but then other stuff was bad like the stuffed cabbage.

Saturday: Saturday morning we went to the Terror Museum. This museum was really creepy because it showed what the secret police in Hungary did and it was in the same building where people were jailed, beaten and tortured. No one was executed there but many died in the basement. Part of the museum was actually in the basement and showed the different cells where people were kept. It was horrifying. After we went to the Terror Museum we had lunch at an Italian place that was cool and right on the river. Joanna and I got salad with shrimp and they gave us 2 lettuce leaves and 3 shrimp so my dad shared some of his pizza with us. Then we went over to the castle area and walked around and saw everything. We were going to go to the Marzipan Museum but did not want to spend the money. After we walked up there we decidedd to get gelato. It was pretty good, not as good as Loser's, but still good. Howitzer actually went back to get a second cone. But he said since they were small it only counted as one. Then we walked all the way back to our hotel. By this time we were really tired and our feet all hurt so Joanna, Howitzer and I used the pool and the sauna at the hotel. After that we sat in a room that had weird blue light and talked about Jewish summer camps. Then we relaxed for a while in the room and watched CNN. After that we went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant that was right near the Four Seasons so we knew it would be good. It ended up being the best food we had in Hungary. Then we all walked along the river at night and went back to the hotel.

Sunday: My mom and dad left Budapest around 10 and so Joanna and I had the rest of the day before our flight back to Prague. We went to breakfast and got really good scrambled eggs. It was a little difficult to relay the message of no bacon and sausage in them and it took two tries but the waiters were really nice and the food ended up being really good. Then we went walked to the zoo and had to walk on the shady side of the street because of my delicate skin. The zoo ended up being pretty small and only took us a little while to go through so we sat in a park in the sun for a while. Then we took the subway back toward the river and walked around for a while then we sat and had lunch in a cafe. I just had a tuna sandwich and Joanna had Greek salad. Then we walked around for a little while and sat in the grass by our hotel until we picked up our bags and took a taxi back to the airport. The Budapest airport was small and the terminal was wicked crowded and hot so it wasn't a very pleasant experience. The lady at the special lounge wouldn't let Joanna use her priority pass either because she seemed to just be confused and too lazy to understand what she was saying. Then our plane was delayed because of Obama. Luckily I like Obama so I didn't mind too much and we ended up getting in around the same time we would have anyway. The plane was also a lot bigger than the one we took to get to Budapest so the ride was a lot less bumpy.

Overall Budapest was a great trip. The city was beautiful and a really interesting place to be, so I think it is one of the best places I have visited so far. The weather was also gorgeous and way warmer than we expected it to be.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lennon Wall

This week was mostly just classes, getting some work done and running some errands. On Tuesday Joanna and I did a little shopping after class since she needed shoes and I needed a better bag to use when I'm touring. I needed something that would go over my shoulder, not be too big or too small and not be too similar to a fanny pack. And be cheap. Luckily I found something that met this description at H&M.

Last night we went to the John Lennon wall and spray painted on it. The Lennon wall is a wall near the Charles Bridge that is covered in paintings and graffiti in memory of John Lennon and for peace. It is huge and completely covered and one of the main paintings on it is a huge peace sign with the word imagine through it. Some of the other Miami students have to do a school project and they decided to make a video of people painting the wall and interviews of what they think about it. The design was to paint the symbols for peace, love and anarchy. I helped paint the peace and love symbols, but not the anarchy one because I don't know how I feel about anarchy. We all then painted other symbols that we wanted to at other parts of the wall. I painted a letter G and then her initials with a heart.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Friday: We left for Vienna pretty early to catch an 8:30 AM train. The ride was about 4.5 hours and I actually was able to fall asleep. This was very exciting since it is a rare occurrence that I can sleep in general. Once we got to Vienna, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and then went to lunch. This hostel was also very hostelish but I knew all of the people in our room so it was fine. Once we dropped our stuff off, we went and had lunch at a restaurant near the hostel before doing some touring. We didn't get anything too exciting for lunch because the menu was in German so we did not really understand and we were in a little bit of a rush. Then we went on a tour of the city with our tour guide who is a professor. We just saw the historic city center, with museums and monuments, and saw the gorgeous buildings all over the city. After the tour we went into St. Stephan's Cathedral and looked around. Then we walked around on our own for a little while and decided to go to a cafe that Zuzana recommended. It was called Cafe Central and if anyone ever goes to Vienna they should go. Their coffee was amazing and they had tons of different cakes, pastries and desserts. I had a chocolate truffle cake that was delicious and the people I was with had strudel and a chocolate nut cake, which were all really good. After this we walked around the city for another couple of hours just to see all of the sights. Once we got tired of walking we stopped at this really cool bar. We sat on couches at a little table and when the waiter found out we were from Miami he asked if one us could please marry him so he could move there. He also started talking about how everyone in Europe loves Obama but that he would have never gotten elected in Europe because people are racist. After the bar we were hungry and got falafel off the street for dinner.

Saturday: On Saturday morning we woke up and just walked around the city. We also got Starbucks! This was expensive but exciting. The weather was really nice and we just sat on a bench for a little while before we had to meet up with the group. Then we went on a tour of Vienna and saw the Town Hall, Parliament and other government buildings. As we were walking we came across an Easter market that was selling tons of crafts and food. So of course once our tour was over we went back there for lunch. I just got a pretzel and then Joanna and I wanted to buy a little piece of cheese but the woman basically gave us a buge wedge, so for the rest of the day we were trying to get people to eat it. Then we passed a candy store and I bought a marzipan strawberry. After lunch we went to the Schonbrunn palace which was the Hapsburgs summer home. It was absolutely huge and was gorgeous. We did a tour of the inside and got audio guides which were cool to listen to and hear the rooms described. There was also a huge garden which was beautiful but things weren't blooming yet so it will be even prettier in the spring and summer. There was a huge hill in the back that we all sat on in the grass and a man on a bicycle yelled at everyone to get off. So we went to the Easter market that was at the castle, had some gelato and went back to the hostel. Then we relaxed for a little while and went to dinner. The place we went for dinner was a really cool Italian place that was kind of like a cafeteria but nice. You would go up to little sections for salad, pasta, pizza etc. and order and they would give you a buzzer to pick it up. The food was really good though and the place was actually pretty nice and not too expensive.

Sunday: Sunday we did a walk through the city and then went to two museums. This would have been really cool but it was really rainy and cold and I was soaking wet a lot of the day so I was kind of grumpy. The first museum was the Belvedere and had the painting "The Kiss" by Klimt which was really pretty. It also had tons of other artists. The second was the Kunst something and had tons of art and then had a huge ancient Egypt exhibit with mummies. The museums were really nice though and the second one the building itself could have been a museum it was so beautiful. After the museums we had an early dinner of more falafel and hummus before going to the train station to head back to Prague.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today in one of my classes we went to a Czech protest. Many authors, writers, artists and musicians were protesting the fact that the government has canceled funding for literary magazines. At the protest we just hung out for a little while and observed what was going on. People brought giant puppets that were really creepy looking to symbolize the Ministry of Culture. At one point, everyone took one shoe off, danced around and then threw their shoes at the puppets while they were having a fight. It was very interesting.

Berlin Pictures!

Here are my Berlin pictures...

Rome Pictures

Here are the rest of my Rome pictures...

Monday, March 23, 2009


Friday: We boarded the bus at 7 AM to drive to Berlin. We had a personal driver to drive us to all the sights and tour guide to tell us about them. We arrived in Berlin around noon and checked into our hotel. The hotel was actually pretty nice. After we dropped our staff off in the room we got back on the bus for a tour. For this tour we had a German tour guide, who I think was actually British and he showed us a bunch of sights and told us about the history of them. Then, we went on a walking tour. We went to the sight of the Nazi book burning, bebelplatz, which is a square across from the university where Albert Einstein taught. At the square there is a monument which is underground. There is a clear piece of plastic that you look in and underground there are empty bookshelves with enough room for the thousands of books that were burned. Across the street there is a constant book sale of copies of the books as a memorial. After we went to the memorial we went to one of the large parts of the Berlin wall that is still standing. We also saw checkpoint Charlie. Based on where we were standing by the wall we would have been standing in no man's land and would have been shot. I didn't realize that there were actually two walls and no man's land in between. It was also put up in three parts, at first just barbed wire, then bricks and then the concrete wall. Now there is a line of two bricks with the words "Berliner Mauer" that shows how the city used to be divided. The traffic lights are also different in what used to be east and west Berlin. After we went there we saw the Holocaust Memorial for Jewish people that were killed. This is controversial because people want it to be for all people who died rather than just Jewish people. The memorial is rectangles of conrete that dip down in the middle, it is really cool looking. Then we went to what is now a parking lot, but used to be where Hitler's bunker was and where he lived in the last weeks of his life and eventually died. After that we went and saw the Brandenburg Gate. Then our tour was over. After the tour we were all really hungry so we went to a German restaurant for lunch. At this restaurant some people got sausage because it is German food but I got chicken schnitzel and it was very good. Once we ate, we went back to Checkpoint Charlie and went into the museum. This was extremely interesting and talked about life under communism and the ways that people would escape from east Germany to west Germany. People used hot air balloons, hid in suitcases, hid in car engines, built tunnels and even used zip lines to get across. After the museum we went out for dessert and I got an apple and nut cake that was very good. Then we were all tired so we went back to the hotel to go to bed.

Saturday: First thing on Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast was great, there different kinds of bread, rolls, cheeses, yogurt, cereal, waffles, toppings, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Then we went to Potsdam. Potsdam is where the big three, Truman, Stalin and Churchill met to decide what to do with Germany after World War II. We did a tour of where the conference was. The palace it was in was gorgeous and based off an English country mansion. Outside of it there is a soviet star made of red flowers. After this tour we headed back to Berlin and Joanna and I split a nutella crepe for lunch. There is a ton of street food in Berlin, so Howard and Joe would love it. There are sausages everywhere and their specialty is curry wurst which is sausage in some sort of curry tomato suace. There are also crepes, Asian food, pretzels and other snacks everywhere. Then we walked around for a little while and went to the Story of Berlin Museum. This museum had the entire history of Berlin in all sorts of exhibits. It was sa really interesting museum but the best part was that in the basement of its parking garage there is a nuclear fallout shelter that was built during the Cold War. We did a tour of it and it was really interesting. It was completely full of beds, but there were only a few bathrooms, then there was a kitchen. If it was full then people would get less air than they were used to and would most likely be very tired and sleep most of the time. It was also not stocked with food because the belief was that if the Russians were sending a bomb then there would be time to prepare. The shelter has a steel wall that cuts it in two parts and cannot be opened because if one side is contaminated or people are sick they did not want people on the other side to get hurt as well. People could survive in the shelter for two weeks but after that the air and water would not filter and it would be no different from being outside. After we did the museum we walked around the city for a while and then went to dinner. Berlin has the third largest Turkish population outside of Turkey so we went to Middle Eastern food. We had falafel, hummus and pita bread for dinner and it was the best meal I think I've had since being in Europe. It was this little hole in the wall place by our hotel. Our hotel waws not in a tourist area so everyone in the restaurant was speaking German or another language. The table was in the ground and we sat on cushions around it. After dinner we went to the German Parliament, the Reichstag, which is the most visited parliament in the world. The entire top is glass and mirrors and you climb up and around in a circle with views of the entire city. The idea is for transparency because since the goverment has been corrupt in the past they want the people to be able to see everything that is going on so it won't happen again. The Reichstag is a beautiful building, from the outside and the inside.

Sunday: Sunday morning we were dropped off in the center of town, by the Museum Island. Some of us decided to go to the DDR museum, which is not about dance dance revolution but is about what life was like in East Germany. It was really interesting and had a recreation of what a house looked like. The bathroom looked exactly like the bathroom here at the kolej. After the museum we were going to go to another but the line was too long and we did not want to wait in the cold so we decided to walk around an outdoor market for a little while. Then we went to...Dunkin Donuts! We were soo excited to see Dunkin Donuts all over Berlin that we had to go a couple of times. Seeing as how America runs on dunkin we were surprised to see it in Germany. After lunch we got on the bus and headed to Dresden. Dresden was bombed heavily during World War II and much of the city was destroyed and rebuilt. It is actually very pretty, with a castle and churches but it was freezing and windy so we did our tour kind of quickly and then had dinner. Luckily the city is pretty small so we got to see a lot in a short time. Then we got on the bus to go the rest of the way to Prague. On the way back we were stopped by the German police at the border. Apparently they stop people often but it was still kind of scary because we had to show our passports to the German police. But we passed whatever test it was and made it the rest of the way back to Prague.

Fun facts about Berlin:
It is the third gayest city in the world, after San Franciso and Sydney, Australia.
It is also the third Bridgeiest city.
Germans like to give their buildings funny and inappropriate nicknames.
Maurer means bricklayer in German. I discovered this at the DDR Museum