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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rome Pictures

Here is the first part of my Rome pictures...

Innsbruck Pictures

Here are my pictures from Innsbruck...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Last week I went to the local high school to speak English with some students. The first class I was in the teacher told us that they were his worst class. However, I thought they spoke great and I enjoyed talking to them. Both groups that I talked to were very outgoing and wanted to hear about why I was studying in Prague, how I liked it and more about America. They were also interested in the American drinking age and when you can get your license. In the Czech Republic people cannot drive until they are 18.

Today I also tutored a girl in English. Joanna and I are both tutoring her and we actually mat the family last week. They are friends of Zuzana and Jan which is how we got this job. So today i met up with her and we just went to a coffee shop and talked. I brought her some English books and magazines and then just spoke English to her. She speaks very well in conversation but she wants to practice more because she wants to switch the international school where classes are all taught in English. Right now she goes to the German school and her classes are taught in German and Czech. So she speaks 3 languages at 14. I'm jealous.
So this weekend I went to Rome! This trip was amazing and I was really excited that I ended up getting the opportunity to go because although I have always wanted to go to Italy I did not think it was going to be possible on this trip. So here is what we did:

Friday: Our flight was Friday morning around 10 AM, so we got into Rome around noon. After our flight landed, we took a train and the subway to our hostel. I was ultra paranoid about pickpocketers and was clutching my purse and guarding it so that I wouldn't get anything stolen from me. Once we got off the subway the hostel was really easy to find, we just had to walk for about 4 minutes. The hostel was very hostelish. There were 8 beds in our room with one bathroom. The bed was actually really comfortable but everytime someone came into the room I woke up. This was ok though because it was wicked cheap and the only time we were even at the hostel was when we were sleeping. Once we dropped our stuff off at the hostel we had lunch. For lunch we just went to a restaurant near our hotel and of course had to have pasta since we were in Italy. I had ravioli that was really good, it had cheese and spinach and was in some kind of buttery sauce. After lunch we walked around the Borghese park which was beautiful. We did not have time to go into the museum on this trip though. Then we headed over to the Spanish steps. I was really excited to see these and all of the other touristy attractions. The steps were cool and huge, as everything in Rome is. They were not that exciting though because they were in a really cool and pretty spot but they were covered with tourists. After the Spanish steps we started walking toward the Trevi Fountain. On the way we made a much needed stop for gelato. Then we ate our gelato and walked toward the fountain. I think that the fountain was one of my favorite things I saw in Rome. It was way bigger than I expected it to be and was beautiful. After the Trevi Fountain we walked to the Piazza Navona, looked around the square and sat at a cafe for a little while while the sun was setting. By this time it was dark out and we decided to go see the Pantheon. It was great to go at night when no one else was there because we could see it without tourists even though it was dark out. So we just sat at the Pantheon for a little while and enjoyed being in Italy. The Pantheon was absolutely huge, I was amazed that something could be that big. After the Pantheon we went to dinner and got pizza. The pizza was really good and really thin crust so mom would like it. I got pizza with mushrooms on it and I really liked it. After dinner we were all exhausted and had to be up early so we just went back to the hostel and went to bed.

Saturday: On Saturday we woke up early and went to the Vatican City. This means that I actually went to two countries on this trip, not just one. Before we went we just stopped at a little cafe by the hostel and got breakfast pastries, which were great. The first thing we did was go to St. Peter's Basilica and climb all the way to the top. We made a stop inside to see the ceiling which, just like everything else in Rome was huge and ornate. Then we continued upwards and go to go outside on the balcony of the building. Then we kept going up the stairs, which twisted around, were extremely narrow and had leaning walls that made me feel like Alice in Wonderland. Once I got to the top I was amazed at how far you could see and how much you could see. After we looked around we headed down and went into the gift shop. There were nuns working in the store. I thought about buying something for Amy but when I looked at stuff I saw lightening bolts start to flash so I didn't get anything. They also sold calendars of sexy priests on the streets but I thought they were a little sacreligious. After hiking up the Basilica we went inside to look around. It was gorgeous and I am still in shock how they could make everything so huge, beautiful and ornate. Then we went to the Vatican Museums and saw all of the artwork. This ended with the Sistine Chapel which was one of the coolest things I've seen, because of the amount of art put into one place. We ended up finding seats and were able to just sit and look at everything for a while. After the Sistine Chapel we were hungry and tired so we decided to find somewhere to get lunch. We just went to a pizza place and were able to sit outside since the weather was nice. I got vegetarian pizza and then decided to try a profiterole which ended up being pretty good but not as great as I thought it would actually be in Italy. Then after lunch we just walked around Rome for the afternoon, did some window shopping and just stopped at parks and different places to just see sights and see all parts of the city. We also headed back over to the Pantheon so that we could go inside. I liked being able to see inside but I loved being able to see it at night without so many tourists. Then we met up with one of Nick's friends who was visiting a friend who lives in Rome and she took us to a great gelato place where they had nutella gelato. Then we walked around to city for a while longer and found a place to have dinner. I just got salad for dinner but it was really good because it had mozzarella in it. After dinner we just went to the hostel and went to bed because we were tired from such a long day of touring.

Sunday: Sunday we woke up, had breakfast and headed over to the Colosseum. The Colosseum was great, it was cool to see something so old and actually be able to stand in it and think about the history of it. It also had great views of the city from inside it. After the Colosseum we went over to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill to see the ruins of the ancient city. This was wicked cool because it had pieces of ancient columns, the foundations of buildings, random rooms of buildings and random columns just floating around. The oldest temple in the world was also there as was the place where Julius Caesar was killed. This was another one of my favorite things because we could literally sit in the middle of history. We walked around the forum for a while until we were really tired and hungry and then went to have some gelato for a snack. After we got gelato we ended up not having anywhere to sit and eat it so we walked around to find somewhere to have coffee. The place we found ended up being in the Jewish section of Rome and it was a cute little neighborhood. Then we walked around for a few more hours to just see more of the city. After this walk we were exhausted and decided to find a place for dinner. We ended up walking through a residential neighborhood and down a side street to find a great restaurant. Julie and I split artichoke bruschetta which was delicious and then I just got plain pasta with sauce. It was some of the best sauce that I have ever had though. For dessert I got tiramisu and it was also delicious. This all makes sense since I was in Italy! Once we were through with dinner we headed back to the hostel and sat in the park near there for a little while, just enjoying the fact that we were in Rome and could actually sit outside and not freeze. Then we headed inside, packed up our stuff and went to bed.

Monday: Today we woke up at 4 AM to make our 7:45 flight. We had to walk to the train station, take a train and then make our way through the airport. The flight ended up only being about an hour and a half though. I missed one class but we were back in time to shower, have lunch and go to the second class.

Overall, I had a great time in Italy. I loved everything about it, especially all the touristy sights we saw and the food. The weather was gorgeous and it was one of the most interesting and fun experiences I have had.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Today one of my friends found very cheap flights to Rome, so we're going this weekend! We're leaving Friday morning and coming back Monday morning. I have to miss a class but we're allowed to miss two so it should be ok. I also have more pictures from Innsbruck to post which I will do tomorrow. We're also very excited about Rome because its supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny! While this is nothing compared to Miami it would be a beach day in Prague.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Salzburg pictures

I love Austria

Last week was just a week of class, hanging out around Prague and getting ready to go to Austria for the weekend. Originally this trip was scheduled through the UPrague program and we were supposed to go to Linz and Salzburg. However at the last second we got an email saying that our trip had been canceled and no one told us why. We were all upset about this so we decided to go on our own, but to Salzburg and Innsbruck instead of Linz.

Friday: We woke up at 5AM got ready and took the train to Salzburg. To get to the train we had to take the tram and then two metros. The train and metro are in the same building. We bought our tickets and, found our train, found a compartment and boarded the Hogwarts Express. I had never been on a train before so it was really cool and fun because it was like having a little train room to ourselves. The train left at 7:15 and took 6 hours, so we got to Salzburg around 1PM. After we got off the train we went to the tourist information center and got directions to our hotel and bought tickets for the Sound of Music Tour on Sunday. We then took a bus to our Turnerwirt Hotel. The hotel ended up being pretty nice and our room was in a separate "villa" called the Beauty Tower. Clearly they knew who was coming. This was also good because we were bringing 5 people into a 4 person room. After we dropped our stuff off at the hotel we went into the downtown area to walk around and get some lunch. Surprisingly they eat fish everywhere in Austria. We went to this little restaurant that was a fish place but had all sorts of sandwiches, salads and actual meals. I got a sandwich with shrimp on it and it was really good and I was excited because I love shrimp. After lunch we went to Mozart's birthplace and saw the museum there. At the museum shop we bought the candy that Salzburg is famous for, Mozart balls. These candies are like lindt balls but a million times better. They're chocolate with nougat and a little marzipan and pistachio and I'm not sure what else in them and I think there might be two kinds. Austria is also famous for pretzels so we bought an apple one which was basically a pastry and a chocolate nut one which was also more like pastry than pretzel. They were absolutely huge so we split them among the 5 of us. After the museum we just walked around the town and walked up to the castle. I don't remember the name of it but it was really high up on a hill and we had a great view. It was also deserted and I was scared that someone was going to close the gates and lock us in. Then we walked down and walked around the town some more to find somewhere to go to dinner. We found this traditional Austrian place and I just got salad with chicken in it. It was really good though. After dinner we were exhausted so we just went back to the hotel, hung out and went to bed.

Saturday: Saturday was Innsbruck day. We woke up very early and caught the 6:30 AM train there so we got there around 8:40. Some people went skiing for the day but I didn't want to so me and Julie toured the town for the day. When we arrived we got coffee and strategized our plan for the day. We bought the Innnsbruck card for 25 euros and this got us into all the sights we wanted to see for the day and I calculated it and by buying this card I saved 26 euros. Our first stop was the Museum Goldenes Dachl. I'm not actually sure what this museum was about but the building has a golden roof and was really pretty. After the museum we went to the Bergisel Sprungstadion which was the Olympic ski jump. To get there we walked across the town so that we could see everything and it was absolutely beautiful, with views of the Alps and gorgeous buildings. Once we got to the Bergisel we walked up kind of a steep path and got to the jump. We took a funicular to the top and saw the views of the Alps from all three levels. Then I skiied down the jump. Haha. Then we walked around the stadium a little and then took a bus back to the center of town for lunch. For lunch I just got salad and I thought I was getting a multigrain roll but it turned out to be a bacon roll. I was very disappointed but I got a crunchy pretzel to make up for it. After lunch we went to the Stadtturn which is a church with a tower but unfortunately the tower was closed so we couldn't go up it. So we only took like 6 minutes in the church. After the church we conquered the Alps. We did this by taking the Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen. First we took a tram funicular type thing which went over the river to Station Hungerburg. Then we took a gondola to Station Segrube. It was really pretty on the way up but it was snowing so we couldn't see as far as we probably could have during nicer weather. The car was also filled with skiiers and I was blatantly a tourist because I didn't have skis and was taking tons of pictures. These skiiers must have been amazing because the trails weren't clearly marked and it wasn't officially a ski mountain, it was more like a mountain that people skiied down. Once we got there we took some pictures outside but we could barely see. Then we took another gondola and it was only the two of us and the operator. He said they had gotten 5 meters of snow in the past two weeks so people hadn't been skiing. Once we got to the top, Station Hafelekar, we took pictures but could literally only see a couple feet in front of us. But I was on top of the world! Literally and figuratively. It was a great feeling just knowing that I was at the top of the Alps. We only stayed at the top for like 15 minutes and then we took the two gondolas down and got on the tram. However, on the tram we stopped at the Alpenzoo and walked around. This zoo had a bunch of animals that lived in cold weather. It wasn't that exciting, it was better for little kids but it had great views of the city. It was also crazy to feel the difference in temperature from the top of mountain to only part of the way up, it felt a million times warmer. After the zoo we took the tram the rest of the way down and went to Alpenverein Museum. This was a mountaineering museum and had pictures, information, supplies and exhibits of mountain climbing since its beginning. It was really interesting. After this museum we went to the Swarovski store and I got cute earrings. Then we went back to the train station to catch the train back to Salzburg. Once we returned we wanted to go out to a cafe and get cake at a place that apparently had the best cake in Salzburg. However, it defnitely did not. My cake was not that good. No ones was great either. Then we went back to the hotel and just relaxed.

Sunday: Sound of Music Tour! We got to sleep in until around 8:30 because the tour guide was picking us up at 9:10. We got ready, packed up our stuff, checked out, got coffee and waited for the driver. Then we hopped in the bus and we ended up having a tour with the 5 of us and 3 other people who were staying at our hotel and were studying in Rome. The tour took us all through Salzburg and we saw the house from the movie, the theater they were in, the mountain they supposedly escaped over to Switzerland but it actually borders Germany, where a car drives down, the pond they go in and the gazebo where they sing I am 16 going on 17. We also saw a bunch of sights throughout the city. Then we drove through the Austrian countryside and saw gorgeous views of the Alps. We made a few stops to take pictures and one of them was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in my life. It was a lake surrounded by the Alps with a little town on it. We then continued the drive and saw some other views and then went to Mondsee, which is where the wedding church from the movie is. Throughout the ride we listened to the movie soundtrack. Our tour guide was also wicked nice. Everyone we met in Austria was wicked nice and friendly, much nice than Czech people are. Once we arrived in the town we saw the church, walked around a little, went to a souvenir shop and then ate in a cafe. We had apple strudel and it was delicious. It defnitely made up for the bad cake the night before. After we ate we drove back and went to the gardens where they sing and play in the movie. Then we went to the train station and bought our tickets back to Prague. Joanna and I got falafel and ate it on the train, it was really good. The weather was beautiful and sunny on Sunday so throughout the day we had really good views and on the train ride back we were able to see the mountains the whole time. I started to get really bored on the train and just couldn't wait to get back to Prague and go to bed. Unfortunately as we were getting on the metro to get back to our dorm someone stole Joanna's wallet out of her backpack. This sucked because they took her money but everyone on the entire metro had a backpack so there really wassn't anything she could have done. Luckily her passport or credit cards weren't in it.

Overall, this trip was amazing. Everything we saw was beautiful and I had an amazing time. Everyone we talked to was very nice and willing to answer any questions we might have. I loved Austria and it is a place that I would definitely like to go back to and would recommend anyone to go to.