Saturday, February 28, 2009

Here are some pictures, the first couple are from the non existent fireworks and then the rest are from Melnik, starting with the blue signs for the rivers.
Happy 75th Birthday Grandma!!! Love you!
On Thursday I did not do much, I went grocery shopping, did some reading and took a nap. Later in the afternoon Joanna's sister Audrey and her friend Nisha arrived and I went with them on a walk around the castle. Then we went to dinner at the Hanging Coffee Pot. Yesterday during the day Julia, Erin, Rachel and I went to the Chocolate Museum. Now this sounds like my heaven. However, the museum was pretty small but they had one display of all old chocolate wrappers that was kind of cool and then we got a sample at the beginning and the end. There was also a candy store at the end of the museum with tons of chocolate that looked amazing. They also had a lot marzipan and hard candy that they made in front of you. Then last night we went to dinner at Barbar and I got a crepe with egg, spinach and cheese it was really good and reminded me of breakfast. After dinner we went to this show called Laterna Magika Graffiti. It was a modern dance show that also had a cool background behind and in front of the dancers with lots of lights and colors. It was really cool and kind of difficult to explain but the way the lights were set up it seemed like the dancers could just appear out of nowhere. After the show Joanna and I took Audrey and Nisha to Cafe Louvre for dessert. We decided that since they were on vacation we were too so it was okay that we went out to eat twice in one day. This time I got black forest cake which was chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream. After Cafe Louvre we went to this bar called the Fat Koala which was just a cool place to hang out.

Today I slept in for a while and then Joanna, Julia, Julie, Erin and I went to this town about 40 minutes outside of Prague called Melnik. When we got there we walked up to this old church and looked at the view. Then we actually went into the church and climbed all the way up to the top. To do this we had to go up extremely steep stairs that were more like ladders and then up a really twisty metal staircase. We climbed higher than the bells and it was cool to see how huge they were. Once we got to the top we got a 360 degree view of the town and the view was so pretty. The only bad thing was that today was not one of the 3 days the sun has been out ssince I've been in Prague. Luckily though it was the warmest day since we've been here, 45 degrees in Prague and then a little cooler in the countryside. After the church we went and did a tour of the castle. It was really pretty and had a concert hall and chapel in it. Then we went and did a tour of the wine cellar. In the cellar there was a giant griffin, so I guess Godric Gryffindor must have been there at some point. Once we left the cellar we did a wine tasting of Czech wine. We were a little disappointed because we thought that we were going to be able to actually learn about the wine but instead they just put us in a basement for 30 minutes with 10 bottles of wine and a description of each. It was fun to be able to try all the wines that were made there though. After the wine tasting we had dinner in Melnik and took the bus back to Prague.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If you comment on this I will bring back presents for you.

Or you can write to me:
Hannah Maurer
Kolej Komenskeho, Parlerova St. 6
169 00 Praha 6
Czech Republic

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I haven't updated in a really long time, so I hope this post is not too long.

Saturday: On Saturday night we went out to dinner at the Mexican place. It was really good and a fun place to go. After dinner we went to this pub called U Sudu. This was really fun, it was very crowded but full of Czechs and other Europeans, not all Americans. We met a few guys from North Carolina who are majoring in landscape architecture. One worked on a golf course...interesting. Then we met these British guys who were hilarious. They said that the prevailing stereotype about Americans is that southerners sleep with their sisters. So I had to explain that while Miami is southern it is not the deep south and we do not sleep with our relatives.

Sunday: During the day on Sunday we went and did laundry. This place was actually really nice and gave free coffee or tea. The only thing was that the dryers didn't actually dry that well. This was okay though, we just hang stuff around the room. It was a lot better than the last place we went because I think the washers worked better and they were a lot faster. Then at night we went to the Globe cafe because on Sunday nights they show old movies for free, so we went and saw a movie and got dessert. I got a chocolate milkshake and it was better than the movie, which I got bored during and couldn't follow, but it was still fun. The people at the table next to us got real food and it looked really good so we're probably going to go back.

Monday: Classes started. The first class I had is called Does Central Europe Exist? Creating and Crossing Borders. The teacher gave us a map without any countries or borders and asked us to think about and outline what we thought central Europe was. Then when no one raised their hands she called on me. I had no idea so I said the countries in the middle of the map. I don't think this was the correct answer, she expected a little more detail I think. But whatever, I wouldn't be taking the class if I knew everything. Actually, I wouldn't be taking the class if the UPrague program had offered more classes since every other program offers tons and if I had gotten the classes I had actually signed up for. I actually think this class will be ok though. After this class we went to Bohemia Bagel and just sat for about 2 hours until the next class. The next class was The World and Prague: Overcoming Smallness and is just for the UPrague people and then 3 European students. It was kind of boring but I think that was just because it was the first day and in basically every class they've been doing the history of the Czech Republic. Then Monday night we went to this club for a band's cd release party and they performed and it was really fun. They gave us a flyer when we were at dinner on Saturday and it looked fun so we decided to go. After the show we met the band and got autographs in case they get famous.

Tuesday: Tuesday I only had one class and it was a UPrague class. This one was Prague and the World: Overcoming Smallness. This was also boring because it was a three hour class and I had no idea what the teacher was talking about. Both of the UPrague classes are taught by three professors and they are only there once every three classes. I am interested to see how this works out because the only team taught class I've had was the teacher taught their entire subject then switched, they did not switch daily. Then last night there were supposed to be fire works for Mardi Gras so we went to the Charles Bridge to watch. Unfortunately the fire works never appeared. Its ok because there were a bunch of us there hanging out and it wasn't as cold as it usually is so I ended up having a good time.

Wednesday: Today I had the same two classes as Monday and they were both kind of boring. In between classes we went to the cafeteria for lunch. The food was not great but it only cost like $2, so it was fine. After lunch we went to get coffee before class since we had watched a movie during the central Europe class and had all been falling asleep. After the second class I had another two hours before my third class. Joanna and I walked around and went into this store where everything was made by the owner. It was really cool. Then we walked around Wenceslas Square and found a few other really cute stores that I want to go back to when I can actually try on and buy some stuff. Then we went to the farmer's market to get some fruit and dried fruit and Joanna took it back to the dorm for me while I went to class. The class was three hours long and we just went over the syllabus and watched a little bit of a movie on Havel today so it was kind of boring. But the reading for the class sounds interesting and we are going to go to some poetry readings and stuff so I am excited about it. After class I picked up a salad from Paneria (not to be confused with Panera) and just came back and hung out at the dorm.

Tomorrow I do not have class so I don't know what I'm going to do all day. Grocery shopping is definitely on the list. Joanna's sister and her friend are coming tomorrow so I am probably going to do some stuff with them this weekend.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here are some more pictures. Most of them are from the toy museum.
Yesterday in Czech class we got our tests back. I got an A on the test! I think there was only one other A and then a couple of people got A-s. This means that I got an A in the class if it ends up that we get credit for it. The reason I know people's grades is that after we looked at our test grades the teacher went around the class and said people's test grades and what that meant their grade for the class was. For the boys who sit in the back of the class, come late and skip class she says "now for the best students in the class. You get C+ on test, C- in class." Apparently every teacher did this same sort of thing. This is another thing that would never happen at home, or else the professors would get harassed by students and parents. After we went over our tests we watched another Czech movie. It was about World War II and was really sad. I don't remember the name but the movie was really good. My teacher told us that Czech people prefer movies without happy endings.

Last night we went to see Swan Lake. I loved this ballet, the costumes were so pretty and the dancers were great. Since I haven't been to many ballets, this is what I was picturing when I thought of ballet. It had a huge cast so there were a lot of really cool dances. After we went to Cafe Louvre which is a really famous cafe. It has a cafe, restaurant and billiards room where you can play pool and all sorts of board games. It is where tons of great thinkers used to hang out, such as Einstein and Kafka. To put the icing on the cake of coolness, the former president of the Czech Republic took Bill Clinton there. I had chocolate cake which was basically a chocolate mousse cake and was really good. Joanna had a raspberry cake which had tons of raspberries and then a some kind of cake on the bottom. Julie had hot chocolate which was basically a melted candy bar and a caramel sundae with nuts and whipped cream. Both of these were really good too. Julia and Erin split fish soup which was like Manhattan clam chowder and sacher cake which was kind of like grainy cake that tasted like there was some kind of fruit in it. The soup was really good but the cake was ok.

Today we went to the toy museum. It is right near the castle. There are tons of old toys there and the whole second floor is a Barbie exhibit. I took a ton of pictures of the toys. Some of them are kind of creepy, like the porcelain dolls...some people I know happen to think porcelain dolls are not creepy though. There were also some interesting barbies, such as drag queen Barbie (I don't think this was her actual name but its what she looked like) and pregnant Barbie. I took pictures of all of these but I can't figure out how to post descriptions of pictures.Also some of the Barbies I took pictures of are behind other ones so its kind of hard to see them.

Tonight we are going out to a Mexican restaurant. Its supposed to be really good and is always packed so you actually have to make reservations. Apparently the bartenders are actually Mexican so we're all excited because we may actually be able to speak Spanish and speak a language that we actually know a little of.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today we had our Czech test. Joanna and I studied together last night but there was so much on it that it was impossible to know everything. The test was not very long, it was just one piece of paper, both sides. Some of it was difficult and I definitely made some mistakes. However, I think I did okay overall. Also, I've gotten A's on all my worksheets, except for one. On that one my teacher drew a flower. Before the test my class actually went to see a movie with another class. The movie was all in Czech with English subtitles and was really good but I can't remember the name. It was nominated for an Oscar in the 90's I think. After the test I went and picked up a few things at Albert's, the grocery store. I got apples, oranges, yogurt, bread and dried pineapple for $5. Then I came back and Joanna and I went and walked around the park near our dorm. It was cold so we just walked through and didn't go up to the Eiffel Tower. We also found the tram that takes you to the top of the hill to see a view of Prague.

Howard and Joe want to know more about the food. I make a lot of scrambled eggs and grilled cheese in my room. It is still college even though its in Prague. This country loves yogurt. There is always a full aisle of yogurt at the grocery store instead of just a little section. There is also a lot of muesli which is cereal and I like it in granola bar form covered in yogurt. Another Czech food is fried cheese. This is basically mozzarella sticks but in a triangle. It's really good. There are also bakeries everywhere. They are kind of different than at home and sell a lot of croissants and bread pastry breakfast type things. There is a little tiny bakery across from one of the classroom buildings that sells donuts that look really good. There is also one by one of the tram stops. I don't know how everyone in this country stays so skinny. In general though the food here is really good, especially baked goods. It is kind of hard for picky eaters because you can't always tell what is in everything. Czech food is pretty basic and is usually meat and potatoes. They also have salads, pasta and a lot of pizza places so there are tons of options.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Also, at the museum there were tons of kinds of animals, sea shells and animal bones and human bones. It was really cool. There was a giant elephant, woolly mammoth and whale skeleton.
Another thing that I forgot to post was that after I stood up from my chair at Cinderella the bottom of the chair fell off. That's two chairs I've broken in the Czech Republic. With that and Ralph's insults I am developing quite the complex.
I know people (Howard) have been waiting with bated breath for this post, so I hope it is up to your approval. I was very excited for this weekend because it was an exhausting week of waking up early for Czech class. On Saturday I walked around the outside and was able to go inside of the Cathedral. It is very pretty. Later on in the afternoon Joanna, Erin, Julia and I went to Palladium. Palladium is a giant shopping mall, it is four or five stories, in the basement is a grocery store and on the top floor is a huge really nice food court. There are several restaurants, cafes and a sushi place where the food travels around the restaurant and you take it off the conveyor. We didn't try this but it looked interesting. I'm a little nervous to eat sushi here though. We ended up going to a cafe and getting coffee. Later that night since it was Valentine's Day the four of us went on a date. We went to a restaurant that we had been wanting to try, BarBar. It is known for its pancakes which are crepes to us. We all split a cheese crepe and then a chocolate and nuts dessert crepe, which were both really good and we will definitely be going back. They also had fun fruity drinks so it was very Sex and the City.
On Sunday I did nothing. It was great, I just slept in, read my book, studied very little Czech and relaxed. Yesterday we had Czech class and went to the Czech museum. This museum was really cool because it had the history of the Czech Republic on the first floor and had information on all different aspects of life. In each exhibit it also had clothes that people wore, things they used and the rooms were decorated as they would have been during that time period. It was like little bits of Plymouth Plantation moved inside (minus the pilgrims). Then last night we decided to go see the opera Cinderella. However, when we got there the opera was a ballet. I think it was probably more fun as a ballet. It was pretty good and I really enjoyed it, but there was one time where it looked like the prince dropped Cinderella but based on Joanna's professional opinion he just didn't lift her up. The stepsisters were really funny.
Today I had Czech class all day and we did not go anywhere fun so it was a very long day of learning this extremely difficult language. One of the words we learned today was chtel bych. ch does not make the same sound as in English so it kind of just sounds like a throat clearing sound combined with sh. This word means I would like. Also the word for ice cream is zmrzlina. The Czech language also uses the accusative which is when for words that end in a or e you change the ending to u or i. Then you also change the ending of the adjective to ou. This is extremely difficult, especially when you do it for 5 hours a day every day. But anyways, after Czech class today I went to Tesco and bought a bunch of stuff. Then Joanna and I made dinner on our lovely hot plate. We made tortellini with sauce that she enhanced with green pepper and then a salad. It was actually really good.
Some interesting things about Prague and the Czech Republic:
There are very few handicapped people here. I haven't seen one person here in a wheel chair. Most people use arm braces or canes.
There are also more blind people than I thought I would live in a big city, and they don't have seeing eye dogs they use canes.
Babies and children here wear full on snowsuits since it is so cold. Most parents have their babies in giant strollers where they are wearing hats, snowsuits and then put in a sleeping bag and blanket. A lot of young children walk around in snow suits and older kids are also still pretty bundled up.
People on the trams are silent. Very few people talk on the tram and the ones who do are usually under the age of 14 or are obnoxious American tourists (fun fact, the Czech word for American is pronounced americhunky). Anyone who was alive during communism does not talk at all on the tram or metro while younger people will speak a little but very quietly. Also, people are extremely polite and respectful. Whenever an older person, pregnant woman or mother and young child get on the tram people jump out of their seats to let them sit. I don't think that this happens in the US but I also do not take public transportation that often so I will give people the benefit of the doubt. One thing I don't think would be possible in the US is that all of the public transportation is run on the honor system. Senior citizens ride for free and then students and children get discounted fares. Everyone is supposed to buy a pass for a certain period of time and always have it on them. You can also buy tickets at every tram stop and those daily tickets you are supposed to stamp once you get on the tram. To enforce the fact that people must actually buy the passes, police will randomly ask people to show their passes and if you don't have it you get fined, usually more than it would cost to buy a 90 day pass like I did. They come up to you show you a badge and then you have to show it. They usually have a whole tram show them their passes and the men look completely normal so you can't identify them and get off the tram. This system seems to work pretty well because the three times I've had to show my pass the tram has been full but I've only seen one person get fined.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here is a link to more pictures. They are mostly of scenery and not people, so it could be a little boring.
So this week has basically been just going to Czech class from 9:30 to 2, either going to lunch or running a few errands and then coming back to the dorm and making lunch here and then going to dinner. On Tuesday we went to the opera and saw La Traviatta. I've never been to the opera before so I don't have much to compare it to but I thought it was really good. The singers were great and the women's dresses were beautiful. The theater was gorgeous and I took some pictures of it but then came out with a reddish tint so they don't really do it justice. I think that some of us are going to go back for Swan Lake. After the opera we went to a cafe for desert. It was really nice but a little expensive. However, I was in ice cream withdrawal so I got a sundae, which was delicious, nearly in up to Dairy Queen (Milford, not Miami) or Whip 'n Dip standards. On Wednesday our Czech class ended at 12 and the teachers took us to the same art museum that the Picasso exhibit is at so Erin and I and some other people looked at one of the other floors. I really like this museum and even in two viisits haven't been able to see everything. Then at night we tried to go to a restaurant that my guidebook described as having "dreamy young Czechs". Once we got there it was packed and there weren't any tables so we decided to find somewhere else to go. Clearly other people were also listening to Rick Steves travel advice. We ended up at an Italian place and got really good pizza and just relaxed there for a while.
Today my Czech class ended at 12 again and this time we went to see the Dancing House. This was designed by Frank Gehry and was named after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers because the building looks like its dancing. After seeing this we went to a church that was the National Memorial of the Heydrich Terror in Prague. Heydrich was Hitler's top aide and was assassinated by two Czechoslovak parachuters. After his assassination Hitler and the Nazis searched all of Prague for the assassins, anyone helping them or for information and about 13000 people were arrested, deported or killed. They also killed all men in the towns of Lidice and Lezaky and sent the women and children to concentration camps and bombed the towns. Eventually the parachuters hid in the crypt of a church. One of them did not hide with the rest and stayed at his mother's house. He then revealedto the Nazis the people who had helped them and began to work with them. Some of these people commited suicide and others were tortured into revealing information as to where they were hiding. Then the Nazis surrounded the church and started shooting, throwing in tear gas and trying to find the men who had assassinated Heydrich. These men fought back but ended up killing themselves so that the Nazis would not be able to. This is a very short summary of what happened but you can look it up on wikipedia. Jan also wrote a book about it. But anyways, we went and saw where the parachuters hid, where the Nazis shot into, the hole in the wall that the men made as a last ditch effort to escape the crypt into the sewage system and where the Nazis stormed into. It was really sad but also really interesting to learn about.
Tonight we are going out to dinner for Julie's 21st birthday. We are going to a Mexican place that is supposed to be the only good Mexican restaurant in Prague. We also got her a cake at Tesco, which was probably equivalent to the Shaw's bakery, at least in looks. Erin and I were looking for a place to get a selection of cookies since there are tons of bakeries and pastry ships around here but apparently they don't sell cookies. The cake looks really good though.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Joe "F" has requested a description of the food in Prague. You can find any type of food you want here. We have free breakfast at the dorm and they always serve hard boiled eggs, rye bread, jam, butter, cheeses, some kind of fruit, a cereal, yogurt, a pastry, tea and coffee. If you want to go out for breakfast like in the US you have to look for an American breakfast. This is because pancakes here are actually crepes. I also think its not as big a deal as it is at home. You can buy many different types of cereal at the grocery store. There are also a lot of places where you can get different breakfast places and coffee. Not that many places have coffee to go and most people sit down in a cafe and drink it. Regular American filter coffee is also rare and places mostly have cappuccino and lattes. For lunch there are a lot of cafes you can go to and get just a sandwich or a salad or a full meal if you want to. For dinner you can get just about anything but typical Czech food is pork, dumplings and cabbage. I don't think it is a surprise to anyone that I haven't tried this seeing as how I haven't been involved in organ meat monday, sausage sunday or other alliterated meat themed days in a few years. Most places have pretty big menus where you can get all sorts of meats, chicken, salads, soups, vegetarian dishes, pastas and sides such as dumplings and roasted potatoes. There are also plenty of places to get different ethnic foods. It's also difficult to figure out the nutrition facts because there is not standard labeling, its listed as per 100 grams but not everything is packaged as a 100 grams. They also use more whole milk and real sugar so we have been trying to hunt down splenda and other aspartame cancer causing products. I am not yet an expert on Czech food but I will report more as I learn more. One thing that is interesting is that when you go out to eat here it takes a lot longer than it does at home. Here you can sit as long as you want and the waiter does not stand over you trying to rush you away. You also do not have to leave as big of a tip as at home, just around 10% or even less if the service is really bad.
The internet has been fixed! This is a definite cause for celebration. Or at least a new blog post.
Yesterday we started our Czech intensive language course. This class is from 9:30 until 2 Monday-Friday for two weeks. Czech is a really difficult language so this course is kind of intimidating but luckily my teacher is really nice and enthusiastic about it. The class is also really tiring because it takes about 40 minutes to get to the class from the dorm and I have to wake up early to also get free breakfast. Yesterday after class I met up with Joanna and we went back to Bohemia Bagel. We decided that even though its good we're not going back soon because its a little expensive for Prague, we want to try other places and we felt like we were transplanted back to a jappy Miami bagel place because of all the Americans that were there. So today we met up again and tried one of the Bio-Fit cafes that they have a bunch of places here. They had just pre made and take away sandwiches there, soups and salads so it was kind of like Panera but not as good. It was definitely a good place to get something quick though. Tonight we are going to the opera, I've never been before so I'm excited to see if I like it. I'm also excited because we get to dress up.
Last night we had a meeting about all the weekend trips that we can go on. Since they're all planned for us the prices are actually pretty good. I am going to Linz and Salzburg in Austria, Berlin, Vienna and Istanbul. I am going to go visit my friend Nadine in the Netherlands and I am working on finding a way to visit Courtney in Paris without spending a ridiculous amount of money. When my parents come I am also going to go to Budapest with them and when Amy and hopefully Miaster come were going to do some other traveling.
I wrote this post on Sunday but couldn't post until now because my internet was broken.

Since the national galleries were free this weekend we went to another two museums. The first that we went to was a dance and festivities exhibition. It was cool, there were paintings of dances and parties and then there were old musical instruments and dance clothing. The next museum we went to was a huge art museum and I can’t remember the name. We originally went because there is a temporary Picasso exhibit that leaves March 1. However, once we got there it turned out that the rest of the museum had a lot of great art, that was much more modern and recent than the museum I went to yesterday. The best exhibit was where the Picasso works were because there a ton of other great artists there too. At first I only saw some really small Picasso drawings that were boring and was disappointed because I had take two trams to get to them. But then I walked further and realized there were a ton more of his paintings in the gallery. They were really good and showed paintings from all the different styles that he used. I was also really excited because there were a few Monet paintings and other Impressionist (I think) artists. I do not know very much about art but I think that this is one of my favorite styles of painting.

After we went to the museum we were all exhausted and decided to get some lunch. We went to Bohemia Bagel which is basically an American place. It had bagels, sandwiches, burgers, salads and al day American breakfasts. It also had American coffee, which was very exciting. This is the place to go if you are homesick. The one thing that was different was its advertising of Irish coffee, Bailey’s and other alcohol spiked coffees to go with your breakfast. We will definitely be going back there (not for the alcohol, but for the food, which was not only American but cheap and delicious).

Tomorrow we are supposed to start our Czech language intensive course. However, I am in the morning group and tomorrow morning we are meeting first to watch the movie about Jan, which is called Fighter (google it). He is going to talk about it and introduce it so I’m not sure if we are actually going to have our class. He is also going to do a lecture series in our dorm about history and his life. It is not for credit but his life and experiences are fascinating so I think I will definitely be going.

Our other classes do not start until February 23. I got really lucky because it ended up that I am only taking four classes, as I had wanted to do from the beginning but was intimidated and bullied into signing up for five even though they ended up only putting me in four. I did not want to take four classes out of laziness, it was because I wanted to be able to make the most out of this experience by really living in Prague. I planned for this by taking six classes and doing research credit. This amounted to 20 credits but extra hours because of the research. Keep in mind 15 is normal. Another great thing is that I only have class Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This is great because then I’ll have Thursdays and Fridays to travel. Unfortunately the classes that I’m in I don’t know if I signed up for but its fine. I wish we could take Czech class in addition to the intensive class, which we don’t even get credit for. Also, the internet here is not working so I haven’t been able to get online. Supposedly it is going to be fixed tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The last couple of days we haven't had anything planned for us so we have been free to do whatever we want around the city. Yesterday morning we went to a student concert which was sort of like a dress rehearsal for the real concert and the tickets were really cheap. However, they talked about themusic a lot at the beginning and it was all in Czech, so we did not understand anything. Unfortunately the man speaking did not realize this and apparently asked a question and held out the microphone for me to respond (we were sitting in the front row). So I had to say I didn't speak Czech and then laugh and shrink down and hide in my seat. Luckily one of the perks of being short is being able to hide with ease. After the concert we walked around for a while and had coffee in a cafe. We made dinner in the dorm and then just went out and hung out at bar that was actually in a basement. It was really cool and looked like the Three Broomsticks. There were definitely some wizards and vampires there. I don't know how they coexist though so they might now have both been there.
This morning we talked with Jan Wiener, who is Zuzana's husband and lives in our suite. He told us about his life, what he did before the war and communism, how he got to America, what he did while he was there and when he came back to the Czech Republic. It was really interesting to hear about his life. On Monday all of the ECES students are watching the movie about his life so it was cool to talk to hime and find out more before seeing it.
This afternoon Colleen and I went to the National Gallery at the castle. The art was really good but not my favorite because a lot of it was really old, like 1600s and 1700s and of Biblical scenes. We went through the museum pretty quickly and then sat in the cafe and had coffee for a while.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today I went to Cesky Sternberk and Kutna Hora, which are about and hour and a half outside of Prague. Sadly I forgot my camera so I will not be able to put up pictures until other people do and I can take them. Cesky Sternberk is a castle that is centuries old. It was beautiful and what is very interesting is that it is still owned by the family who lived in it over 800 years ago. It was taken from them in the 1950s but a member of the family was allowed to stay on as a tour guide and it was given back after the Velvet Revolution. The man who now owns it lives on the first floor but his whole family actually lived in the castle when he was a child and his bedroom was on display, the floors were over 400 years old. Since the castle is so old different rooms are decorated with all different styles of art and architecture that were popular over several centuries. After this castle we went to the town of Kutna Hora. This town used to be a silver mining town and was very prosperous but does not seem to be as well off and is very different than Prague. It seemed kind of dreary. We walked around the town which was very pretty and had architecture in Gothic and Baroque styles. There is also a cathedral and monastery there that are beautiful. The cathedral is huge and gorgeous and had stained glass all around it. At the end of the day we went to this bone church. It has all the bones of 40000 plague victims on display. Around the building there are pyramids of stacked bones and skulls in the front. Different bones arranged in patterns decorated the walls. In the middle there was a chandelier made from all the bones in the human body. It was really interesting and the decorating could actuallyy be considered interesting in a morbid way.
Tonight we are going out in Prague. I think we are going to a club, which should be fun. I am a great dancer so I can show off my skillz. For the next four days we do not have anything planned for us so we will just be exploring and getting to know the city more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Here is my first photo album. The pictures until DSC 01117 are of Prague and the rest are in Cesky Krumlov.
More on my resourcefulness...I have stacked three suitcases on top of each other to form a chair.
Today I went to the Czech town of Cesky Krumlov. It takes a few hours to get there, but we thought that the ride wouldn't be bad because we would get to view the Czech countryside. The drive wasn't too bad, I actually fell asleep on the way there and the way back. However, the view looked like some of the drive from my house to NH, with some trees but minus the view off 89. Another part of the drive was huge open fields and what looked like giant farms but we only saw a few animals. Randomly in the middle of the fields there were housing developments with nothing else around them. I think this is a town like Godric's Hollow, since it is separated from everything. Once we got to the town we looked at a huge castle which was actually closed for tours but we were able to walk around and see the outside. Then we walked around the town and had lunch in a cafe. The town was really pretty but many things were closed since its not really tourist season. After lunch we went to two museums, one was a photographers studio and was really interesting because there were many pictures that were taken before communism and then restored after. The second museum was supposed to be about architecture but was more of a lecture about it. It was pretty boring. After the museum we had some more time to walk around and then Joanna and I were cold so we sat in a cafe. We then got on the bus to come back and everyone fell asleep. Tonight we decided to just stay in the dorm and hang out since were all so tired. Tomorrow I am going to Kutna Hora.

Monday, February 2, 2009

For any Conistonians: The first song I heard here was Eye of the Tiger.
Yesterday we did a tour around Prague with our house mother Zuzana. She is a very nice and interesting person and it was cool to see Prague from the view of someone who has lived here both many years ago and today. We got to go to the castle and see many sights such as monasteries, churches and beautiful buildings. After our tour we went to Andel, which is a shopping center and were able to get Czech cell phones. It was only about $45 for the phone and the minutes! We also got hot wine at the National Gallery which is a very popular drink here and is sold everywhere. Then later we went to dinner and hung out at a pub. The food here is pretty cheap, dinner was only around $7.
Today we went to an orientation for all of the students in the Eastern and Central European Studies program. It was held in a beautiful old church. After the orientation we walked around Prague for a while, had lunch at a little cafe, got our student IDs and went to Tesco (Czech Walmart). The towels here are ridiculously small so we wanted to get some decently sized ones so as not to risk indecent exposure every time we want to shower. I also got a pillow since the ones here are almost completely flat. We were very proud that we were able to find our way to Tesco and back because the streets in Prague go every which way and change names frequently. I was obviously very helpful in figuring out the directions.
A few interesting things happened to me today. One, I sat down in my chair and it immediately broke and fell to the ground. This was quite the self esteem boost. Two, we have been trying a little to say some words in Czech at stores and to people around us. In one of the shops we were in the shopkeeper told us not to even try to speak Czech because it was too difficult to wait for us to just mess it up and then start speaking English. This was after pretending that he didn't understand what we were saying in English just to give us a difficult time. Lastly I was resourceful and used my swiss army knife to cut my orange when I couldn't peel it.