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.