Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today the group did an orientation tour of Prague.  It was great to meet some new students who didn’t come out to the pub crawl last night.  We started by going to the Cathedral and the Castle which were really beautiful, but we didn’t go inside.  The lines are super long and something you have to devote a few hours to seeing but it was good to at least view them from the outside.  I will have to go back one day when I have more time.  And we saw the soldiers guarding the castle that are so stoic and won’t move.  That job would be so horrible! The guards are supposed to be completely expressionless and still, and they are supposed to look straight ahead, but one of the guards was definitely shifting his eyes and looking all the women up and down! Typical guy, right?! J

We then walked down the big hill that the castle is on, which gave really beautiful vistas of the city from across the river, and walked over the Charles Bridge, which was packed like always, but still worth the experience.  We walked allll around the city.  We 

saw another David Cuerny statue, this time it was a fountain and it’s two guys peeing and their hips swivel from side to side.  Apparently if you text a number on a plaque next to the fountain, they will write whatever you text with their “pee”.  Pretty funny but also kind of disgusting.  This David Cuerny guy must be quite a character.  

We went back to Old Time Square and saw the Astronomical Clock again, then went and ate a traditional Czech meal.  It was delicious! I ordered cheese croquettes as an appetizer and the waitress warned me that it smelled really really bad but was delicious.  When she brought it out it was so rank! It smelled up the whole restaurant and the unsuspecting re

st of the group at a different table started freaking because it smelled so bad.  Even some people on the other side of the restaurant smoking smelled it! But it was SO DELICIOUS and totally worth suffering through the smell.  Actually, once you tasted it you couldn’t smell it anymore, which I thought was kind of weird.  The rest of my meal was delicious (but of course not quite as good as the smelly cheese) but super filling.  I got beef chili goulash and dumplings-I thought the dumplings would be a like what we have in the US but they actually looked like little slices of French bread- but still taste like dumplings. Very strange but good. 

Prague is such a beautiful city, I’m amazed every time I step outside.  All of the buildings are so gorgeous and elaborate with statue facades on the front and beautiful molding and painted all different pretty colors it’s really spectacular.  And they have trees and parks everywhere! It’s so nice to see that because it’s a big city, but it’s not removed from nature.  Everyone has dogs and they are so well behaved and go everywhere with their owner.  We were at a really cool bar on Thursday called Usutu and its an underground cellar bar so it’s like a labyrinth of caves, it was really awesome, and there was a guy there with his giant Rottweiler just chilling.  And people bring their dogs on the metro too.  Another awesome thing about Prague is beer is cheaper than water! No joke!  But that’s just a benefit because it’s such an awesome city.  There are statues everywhere and artwork of all sorts, you see really beautiful

old religious statues, and then you see something ridiculous and crazy.  I saw a really cool painting on a wall that was an infinity sign, but driving on it were military tanks followed by construction vehicles followed by military tanks and it goes on forever—symbolizing that as people build cities they get destroyed, then rehabilitated, then destroyed.  This really represents the Czech outlook on life.  Here they have this supremely beautiful city that just recently received freedom.  When Hitler invaded here he instructed his army not to destroy the city because he thought it was too beautiful, so luckily it is really well preserved.  But when they were under the rule of the Soviets, it was a dreary, miserable place.  All of the buildings were painted grey and people just weren’t allowed to be happy.  You can still see that today—the metros, while they are really clean and a super efficient means of public transportation are all drab and gray because they were built during the Soviet occupation.  And anyone over the age of 50 or 60 always a has a serious often expressionless look on their face and it seems as if they are just robotically wandering through life without experiencing it.  But those in their teens, 20s, even the 30s have this amazing zest for life and are super happy.  The city itself reflects this mixed attitude because in between the beautiful historic buildings you have the absurd (like Cheurnys stuff) but also that looming reminder of their very dark past.  It’s really an amazing experience here.  Every day I consider more and more staying here to teach because there is always something new to see and learn and experience every day.  I truly fall in love with the city more and more by the minute.  It really is just as magical as everyone said it was going to be!   

Classes start tomorrow. They are apparently super demanding and a lot of work, and I’ve been told by every grad that I won’t have a life Monday through Friday and all I’ll be doing is work.  So that’s going to be a load of fun.  But I’m really excited to start learning this stuff because I think it will teach me a whole lot about communication with people in general, as well as how to communicate and deal with people who don’t speak your language at all. 

That being said…time for bed!    

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wow, Prague is definitely my new favorite city.  It really is just as magical as everyone said it is.  It’s so beautiful and all of the buildings are so old and well preserved and it’s just awesome.     

I slept in wayyyy too long today, I felt like a lazy bum, but I guess I’m still jet-lagged, or at least that’s a good excuse.  I got up and my roommates and I got lunch at met up with some friends from a previous TEFL class who ended up staying in Prague to teach and they gave us a little tour of Prague.  First we went to the Astronomical Clock for the time change, which was super cool.  They have the 12 apostles appear through the doors, and there are also statues for the 7 deadly sins and a bunch of other symbolic decorations.  It’s really beautiful.     

Then we all went to this crazy gallery for this artist named David Ceurny.  He does these wack statues, paintings, and photographs that are nuts but really cool.  For example, there was this statue thing of Saadam Hussein tied up and submerged underwater in this aquarium thing.  It was really life like and kinda eerie.  There was also a giant palm tree made of Fanta and Sprite cans.  Then we went to the Charles Bridge which, as promised, was really packed and had a bunch of vendors selling way overpriced things but it is something you have to do when you go to Prague.  But it did have a really beautiful view of the river and the city so it’s all well and good.  After the bridge we went to the John Lennon wall (yayyy) which was

definitely the highlight of my afternoon.  It’s really spectacular and I definitely have to go back with some spray paint and put something on it. 

We then walked along the river and went to this park where there were some more David Ceurney statues.  Except these were a little creepy—they were these giant babies with their faces punched in.  Kinda messed up but art’s art I guess. 

Looking forward to the pub crawl tonight!     

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Made it! Got to our apartment and its HUGE! I’ve met my roommates and everyone seems super cool.  I went to a shopping center across from our school to get lunch and towels (couldn’t waste precious room in my suitcase with towels!) and try to find a place for the internet.  The metro system is pretty easy to use, but getting around trying to find various locations is pretty difficult.  The Czech language is far from French, or any romantic language at that, so trying to figure out signs, menus, etc is pretty difficult.  And surprisingly, people aren’t too friendly or ready to help out an ignorant tourist as myself.  I asked close to a dozen people where I could find an internet cafĂ© and most people just walked right by.  It also seems like most of the younger population speaks at least a little bit of English, but the majority of the older population speaks none at all.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how clean the city is.  It’s impeccable! When the cab driver was taking me to my apartment I saw a street sweeper vehicle going down the street—it was 11 am on a Wednesday! People don’t litter and everyone is responsible for their own trash.  I wish people practiced that in the U.S.

I’m really excited because there are flyers and posters everywhere for various music festivals/concerts/events etc.  I also saw a poster for a “pyrotechnics light laser show” which I’m sure will be quite a show. 

Well, I’m off to dinner/city exploring!

Zurich Airport

After racing from one terminal to the next in Atlanta with a carry-on that is at least 50 pounds (no wheels!) I finally made it to my flight, out of breath and very hot and sweaty!  I had less than 10 minutes before I had to board my plane, and used that time to make a few last minute phone calls to my friends and family. 

The flight was cake—I was on the side of the plane where there are only 2 seats and I totally lucked out because the seat next to me was empty! So I stretched out and slept the whole time- who needs business class when you’ve got karma?! I’ve definitely paid my fair share in transcontinental flights stuck in the middle of 2 fat strangers.  I woke up just as breakfast was being served and we landed within the hour. 

I just got off the plane in Zurich—or what I like to call the Madison Avenue of Airports.  Trying to find the correct terminal to Prague I pass Hermes, Armani, Gucci, Hugo Boss—its ridiculous!  Everyone here is so chic and dressed to the nines—and its only 7:30 am!  Then again there are also businessmen in the bar drinking, so clearly there’s a different lifestyle here.

About time to board the plane… I’m SO EXCITED!! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Charleston Airport

I am sitting in the Charleston Airport terminal waiting to board my flight to Atlanta.  It’s finally sinking in that I’m leaving.  I have been so busy with my internship and work, not to mention trying to make the most of my final days/weeks in Charleston that I haven’t even had time to get excited about this wonderful journey I am about to embark on.  But now that I’ve gotten through security and the only thing I have to wait on is boarding the plane I can think about the next two months ahead of me and I’m so stoked! I’m also a little anxious, and definitely nervous that I’ve packed wayyyyy too much (as always).

Time to board… this is really happening! I will really miss all my friends and family but I’m looking forward to the new friends I am going to make and exploring new cities!!

I’m new to this whole blog thing.  But I figured this would be the easiest way to not only document my travels for myself but also to keep everyone else who cares about what I’m doing updated as well.  I’m no wordsmith so I’m giving fair warning—I’m not aiming for entries revealing some eloquent insight to life (although if the inspiration arises, you may get lucky…). This is merely a narrative to my European adventure, so enjoy!!