Monday, September 19, 2011

Homestay in Roztocky

Hey everyone, I would like to start out by saying that I didn't fail my goal right away. I wanted to blog yesterday but my computer decided it hates the internet at my homestay. So I'm at school right now.

Speaking of homestay, I haven't told you about that at all yet because it started this week! Now I haven't taken pictures of my hostmom or her house yet because I have to ask her to make sure its okay to put them online and whatnot. But I can give you a snippet about the hostfam:

I live with Jarmila and her blind dog Homer north of Prague. She has a cute little house with a green gate. Homer bumps into everything and can't hear very well, but he's very fluffy which makes up for it. Jarmila has three older daughters who are moved out of the house. Two of them have kids, two of them live in England, and one lives in Amsterdam but is currently on an archeological dig in Greece with her Canadian husband. I met the middle daughter and her children over Skype and marveled at the wonders of technology.

Anyway, my class had a big dinner Saturday night where we met our families. The next day they picked us up.

Jarmila and I took a walk around her (aka OUR) hometown of Roztocky on Sunday. This is a place one might deem a "liddle widdle town" because its very adorable, contains cottages and is near a river.

We also walked down to this really old church as well, but we had no money to pay for the tours so I'll show you pictures of that later... SPOILER ALERT: WE WENT ON THE TOUR THE NEXT WEEKEND.

Monday morning my hostmom rode the bus with me to help me get to school. (Yes, this is real life and I'm 22.)

On the way home I thought I knew what I was doing alone but got off at completely the wrong stop. After wandering around a bit I caved in and gave my hostmom a ring. She told me how to get home of cours,e but my pride was a bit unhappy.

I took a (mediocre, frantic) picture of the right bus stop when I got home because I was so happy to see it.

On Wednesday we saw some art in my studio art class (no way!).

The only piece I took a picture of was this crazy wall-sized picture made entirely out of staples.


[even smaller detail]

 Also, our kind teacher Jan (pronounced "yan" and I def. can't remember his last name at the moment) gave us plastic cutouts shaped like the Czech Republic. Awwww! I'm going to pull it out every time someone asks if I went to Czechoslovakia. 

Another night that week (Thursday, perhaps?), Jarmila made fruit filled dumplings. I discovered the key to making them really good: butter, sugar, cinnamon AND curd cheese. 

Brian, sometimes I think of your Europe travel blog, and I realize the only pictures I take of food are dessert.

Another day we went to the mall--not everything we do has to be traditional Czech--and I took a picture of this horse lamp at the (relatively) expensive cafe we went to.

[Both Naomi & Lee seem to be humoring me...]

On Friday we went to the Kampa museum to look at "pre-war art," which actually meant Kupka's art; he was one of the first abstract painters. We couldn't photograph his stuff, but they had a quality sculpture garden:
 ["Open Wall"]

[detail: there's paint in them bricks!]

 [reminded me of Lipchitz... not by him though]

Afterward we went to a cafe flanked by a lot of wall and not very much window.

On Sunday I went back to the Kampa, because we have to write a small paper about an art exhibit. It was the overachiever in me that made me go back whilst others are just writing about things we saw in class...

The artist I'm going to write about is Marian Karel, who currently has a big exhibit there.

[if Sten Nilsson read my blog he would totally relate.]

 I noticed more pretty stuff outside even though it was raining...

[get it, "pretty"?]

I also creeped on some Czech boys who were making a film on a pretty walkway where the trees thought it was autumn.

[or perhaps I should have told you they were in love?]

OKAY ALREADY, one more thing, this has been lengthier than I planned!

Jarmila took me to an exhibit of fair souvenirs from hundreds of years ago when "fair" mean pilgrimage or Christian processional.

[Mary of Madonna and Child can look rather manly in the wrong hands]

[Aha! So cheap/flimsy things are not unique to the modern fair!]

Damn it! That wasn't the last thing. Here are some photos from Levy Hradoc, a church that has been around since the 8th century or so... the oldest church in the area in fact. (Remember ages ago when your read something about a spoiler alert? THIS is what I was spoiling for you.)

[our tour guide refused to speak English for the self-centered American.]

[original stone foundations, below the current church]

Goodbye, cao, ahoj, na schledanou, until next week! 
(Or if I am wise it will be sooner because I take so many freaking photos each week.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Week in Praha

Ahoj! (Pronounced "Ahoy" and means "Hi")

I've made a goal for myself to post every week that I'm here, hopefully that will happen!

I got here on Saturday, September 3rd, and met the other 13 people in my group. All are girls except one and we get along famously, even with Joe, the boy.

When we first got here we walked around the cobblestone streets looking at the quaint architecture. It was really hot, but we went down a huge flight of stairs anyway. This, of course, necessitated a pub stop because in Prague "beer is water."

[Claire, from NY; Danielle/Dani, from NJ; Morgan, from Delaware but going to college in Chicago]

There was a very pretty view from where we were sitting as well.
[Yep, I'm actually in Prague!!]

Now I'm not going to give you a play-by-play narrative of the entire week, but some highlights are in order of course. 

The metro is a unique experience. You go down a steep set of escalators where the posters are hanging at an angle to match the architecture. It makes me a tad dizzy.

[This is where the metro drives up. Each station had a different design.]

On the metro, everyone is very quiet. This is the number one place to go if you want to feel like a rude American. It's hard for us not to talk the whole time, and sometimes old women glare at us. Unfortunately this just makes the experience funnier. We're getting better though. Most of the time we at least talk quietly.

On the first day we broke up into groups of four and went on a "scavenger hunt." Everyone in my group was bad at directions. Naturally, we started out the hunt by walking back and forth on a long, hot street. We kept changing our mind about what the right direction was. By the time we found this cool monastery with a massive library, we were not in the mood for a tour. We passed the next place, a tiny gallery, with the same overheated attitude and stopped to get iced coffee near the street you see above. Iced coffee is not common here, but we found it in the touristy area. ;)

Anyway, our next stop was the Perin Tower, Prague's version of the Eiffel or something. It was on top of a huge hill. Needless to say, we were sweaty and red-faced at the end of it... which was long overdue by the time we arrived at the top. 

[This picture of a staircase does not illustrate how long, hot & hard it was. That's what she said.]

 [View from almost the top]

It was a neat tower, and Natalie even got to use her Spanish skills on a tourist, but we were absolutely exhausted.

[Later, the four of us--Natalie, Naomi, me and Lee-- scowled at the tower from Old Town.]

Another night, we went to a concert in a coffee shop. It's funny because they also sell some beer and wine which is different from coffee shops in the US. I don't know what the band was called and they only spoke in Czech (except the line of one song "You may be Juliet but I'm not Romeo!" which we Americans got excited about), but the music was really good. It was a nice combination of modern and traditional.

Again, everyone in the concert was very quiet, even between songs, but we were good this time. 

At this same coffee house, we also had a sort of getting-to-know each other class on the first day, and during a break I took these pictures nearby.

I'm not sure about the name of either of these things, but the park was pretty and I loved the fountain. If you don't understand how cool the fountain is, just know that it looks better in person and is different from every angle. 

Anyway, I hope you like architecture pictures like this, because there are more ahead. We went to Old Town (the center of Prague and oldest part of the city, with a lot of Baroque architecture and other things) on a very rainy day. 

[One of those lucky spots that everyone is supposed to touch, don't ya know. That's Aiden, by the way.]

I close on this note: Comic Sans is everywhere.

So you will hear from me next week and maybe sooner if I have something short to say!