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. Wesaw 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 beautifulold 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!