Today officially marks two weeks until I leave for Prague, Czech Republic. It is finally starting to sink in, that this trip is actually happening. I believe my transition in thinking is fueled by the research I have been doing as of late, to make the most of my Prague experience. My dad purchased a copy of Rick Steves’ Prague and the Czech Republic Guide Book for me. I highly recommend this book for anyone planning on traveling to Prague; it is chock full of useful information. I have the 2013 version seventh edition, but he is publishing an updated version in 2015. However, the information is still for the most part accurate, and any minor changes/updates can be found on Rick Steve’s website. https://www.ricksteves.com/. A helpful hint that I found from perusing the guidebook: if you learn even a few Czech words/phrases you will get treated way better, and get way better service. At a restaurant if you speak only in English the server will expect a 15 percent tip instead of a 5 percent tip. Knowing basic words/ phrases such as hello, thank you, you’re welcome, goodbye, etc., will really help. Type in Czech phrases audio into google, and it will return a common list of phrases with audio pronunciation. One morning of practice, and I am already feeling more confident, and better prepared for my trip.
A couple of weeks ago, I was knee-deep in finals, staying up well past four am night after night, hoping to finish off the end of my sophomore year successfully. The fact that I would be boarding a plane to Prague, Czech Republic in a less than month, was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact the entire study abroad process thus far has been surreal. It is hard to focus on the fact that I am about go through arguably one of the greatest experiences of my life, when there is so much preparation going into it. It is easy to get so wrapped up in all the tedious tasks such as the filling out of forms, mandatory pre-departure orientation, and the countless visits to the study abroad office/my study abroad advisor that I often times forget that all these tasks have an important purpose. Even now, with finals done, and the mark of summer vacation officially kicking off, it has not really sunk in that this study abroad experience is actually happening. That in a few short weeks I will be at Charles University in Prague, immersing myself in an entirely new culture, giving my college experience a new whole new meaning. I do not think it will actually hit me that this is real until I am on that plane, well on my way. I am more excited than nervous, but I am nervous nonetheless. I wonder how I will adjust to my new culture, how I will like Charles University, if my classes will be hard, and about the people I will meet. I look forward to sharing my experiences with all of you, and hope that they will inspire you to venture out on your own study abroad experience, if you have not already.
Well this past weekend I was at Cesky Raj, also known as the Czech Paradise. It was quite a nice change from my usual trips and encounters that I have had so far. We stayed at a small hotel in the middle of the woods and trekked about 30 km throughout the weekend. I enjoyed it quite a bit, because I had not done much out doors type stuff since my arrival in Prague. I would have posted sooner, but this week had been a little busy as I’m finishing up classes, taking finals and handing in papers.
All of that is just about done, I only have one more test next week and it should be the hardest. Good thing I have all weekend and a couple days to study 🙂 . I must be off to finish packing for my trip to Budapest, which leaves at 3:30 today!
I don’t know what it is about this blog, but I keep forgetting about it 🙂 So there is a little catching up to do. This weekend I spend some time with friends, as I will most likely be traveling the next three weekends that are approaching. We spent both nights starting off with eating out for dinner then, we enjoyed the clubs or pubs for a bit.
Last weekend though, I went to Berlin. It was a bit odd because, I technically went solo on this, but I met people there. It was interesting to find my way to hostel without anyone to come pick me up. I never realized how large the city was until I took a look at its extensive U-Bahn system (subway). I arrived later in the evening on Friday night, so I didn’t have much time to look around on first arrival. Saturday we took the free walking tour around Berlin and saw all the usual sights, Brandenburg Gate, embassies, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, administration buildings for various Nazi organizations, i.e. the Luftwaffe . The rest of the day was spent strolling around town checking out parks and other things to see such as the TV tower. Sunday was a good day as well, we rolled out of bed a little late, but the sun was shining all day so it didn’t seem as if we burnt any daylight. First we crossed the Oberbaumbrücke bridge, which was quite near our hostel. Just on the other side, was the East Side Gallery, which was all the paintings done on the Berlin wall. On the end of that was a lovely little rasta themed place on the river that had everything from a half-pipe to an artificial beach overlooking the water. We sun bathed there for a couple of hours then went off to see the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche church. It was a church that was bombed during the war and parts were rebuilt in a modern fashion. After that we wandered into the Teirgarten, which is a very large park next to the zoo in downtown Berlin. At the end of that stroll we came back near the city center where there was a small carnival going on, with classic blow up castles, cotton candy, and Ferris wheels. The Reichstagg was the next stop on the list. After that long day, we came back to hostel and rested up for a little bit, then had a final dinner out on the town. My bus back on moday morning was at 9, so I had to do the rare, early morning wake up call at 7:30, but I survived !
It has been getting harder and harder to find time to come blog lately, so my posts become farther apart 🙁 . The longer the time I spend here, the more I end up doing and the less time I spend in my room. Which is not a problem for me at all! I actually could have got to this Saturday night or Sunday, but all of my vital objects were falling apart those days. It started off with my shower head breaking in my room, then the main waterline went so I couldn’t do my laundry or dishes, and it was topped off with the adapter for my computer being burnt out. But all that got fixed in one day, so it’s all better!
This past week was quite busy and I got a lot accomplished, in my activity section that is. Wednesday I finally got to the Prague zoo. It was full of childish fun, which had been lacking in my agenda lately. I was surprised to see how many animals were made of wood haha! I’m not sure why they had so many fake animals, but what they did have was good to see.
Thursday was… Aquapalace!!! Apparently there is an indoor water park just on the outskirts of the city. This I had to see. There were a good handful of water slides, each with varying degrees of aqua fun. There was one in particular that caught my radar, and it somewhat resembled a toilet bowl. Much of the rest of the park was large connections of pools and water ways, some being warmer than others. It was nice to get some water on my skin that wasn’t coming out of the wall.
Saturday me and a couple friends took a trip to Plzen, a town about an hours drive out of Prague. It is the birthplace of one of my more preferred beer styles, Pilsner! We spent most of the time at the Pilsner Urquell brewery because it was a rather large one. After the tour was done with, we ran off into town to explore as we heard there was a restaurant that served the delicious unfiltered, barrel aged brew that was served on the tour. After our long dinner discussions, we headed back for our train to have a night in Prague.
Sunday ended up being a perfect cap off to a good week. Friend of mine had organized a “barbie” as they liked to call it, and my tummy was prepared for a feast. Unfortunately, I was not prepared enough. I had only seen such masses of food at buffets. By the time we were done staring at the remains that couldn’t be forced down our gullets, there was still at least 3 kilos of meat and other sorts in the fridge unprepared!
Overall a darn good week I must say! I only hope that I can get some traveling done this coming weekend, because that volcano business is looking a bit gloomy.
Oy, I missed another week of posts! I have a legitimate excuse this time I believe. I had friends visit from the states, for the whole week.
I got that off to a good start, as I missed my alarm to pick up one friend early Saturday morning (7am). I ended up being 3 hours late and finding him in the airport bar, paying for drinks that were as much as a whole meal in town. I showed him a good time the first night, then I had to get up early again to pick up a different friend from the airport.
Unfortunately, he had given me the wrong time to pick him up, which was about 10:30am. He forgot the time difference, so I was in the airport for about 3.5/4 hours trying to find him. Naturally, we had to reciprocate. So, we let him sweat it out in the airport for about an hour when 5:30 rolled around.
We started off the week with a couple strolls around town, and a little sight seeing. But mostly seeing the night life, as that was what they wanted to see. The rest of the week went about the same as I introduced them to all the Euros I had met so far, although I had a mid term on Tuesday so I had to take it easy one of the days. Luckily, both of them are fairly versatile people so I could leave them alone if I needed to. We had a blast for the whole week they were here, as far as I know anyway haha. They only trouble we ran into was one of them had some side effects from some medications, and had to get checked out in the hospital. Hopefully that did not put too much of a damper on his trip.
Now I just need to study for my last midterm, because this one is gonna be a tough one. I never knew how complicated “Middle Europa” was until I took this class. But, after this Wednesday I need to start looking into more weekend trips!
Ah, so I finally got to go to Poland over this past weekend! It was a blast. I don’t think I have ever eaten so much food in a 72 hour period in my life. I almost thought I had a child inside of me when I woke up on Sunday morning. Friday morning we woke up just outside of Auschwitz and it was a beautiful foggy morning.
The trip through the camp itself was quite depressing but definitely worth the experience. I took a few pictures but I feel that I should keep them off the web. After the camp, we went straight to Krakow and began to gorge on the delicious Polish cuisine.
On Saturday, it was finally shorts weather! We walked around the castle and saw other medieval structures around town. Then we had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. This included even more food. The restaurant we went to, every plate could have served at the very least 2 or 3 people. I tried to eat as much as possible, but after about 2 Kilos of food, I was done. It was a rather odd experience being intoxicated from food.
After that disenchanting experience, we were off to the salt mines Sunday morning. It was a rather interesting place, and it was pretty cool to see the deepest underground chapel in the world. Overall, I would have to say I would have preferred another full day in Krakow to explore rather than trudge an hour and a half out of the way, then tack that onto the return trip.
If you are ever in the area, I definitely recommend the city.
Well, I forgot to post on my blog last week, sorry! Anyway, last week I took a break from traveling and tried to save a little money for my upcoming Krakow Trip this week. We leave Thursday night at midnight, arrive in Auschwitz in the morning, the next day we visit the Salt Mines near Krakow. I had no idea these existed until I signed up for this trip. I am looking forward to it quite a bit.
On the 10th of March I attended the opening ceremony for the One World Film Festival, a humanitarian event which is being held in multiple locations across Europe. It was a nice event although, they gave the impression that they were going to air one of the movies at the end, but that never happened. To this point, I have not taken the time to go to one of the films, but I hope to before the festival ends on the 18th.
Over the weekend I took my first trip out of the CZ, to Vienna! The weather turned out to be phenomenal, and there were no delays in transit. The hostel we stayed at was very nice, and modestly priced at 15 euro a night. The staff was very welcoming, and we made good friends with the bartender. Much of the time spent out and about was in museums. Normally I’m all for it, but it seemed some of the dragged on due the the shear size of the buildings.
We went to the Museum of Military History in Arsenal (my favorite one, lots of guns), Belvedere (which had the painting of Napoleon on his horse, amazing), and the Hundert Wasser house (most of his paintings are abstract, but his architecture ideas are brilliant). Belvedere consisted of a couple of gardens, one of them being massive, many statues and sculptures, and the museum inside. While we there there the sun was shining all day, so it was quite relaxing to roam around the garden as the clouds strolled by.
My only qualms with the trip would be lack of planning on our part. The city was beautiful, although rather flat. If anyone goes to Vienna, I highly suggest saving the museum trips for Sunday because, most of the town’s shops and activities are closed then. Unfortunately we made the mistake of doing museums Friday and Saturday and looking around town Sunday. It seemed a bit rushed but all in all I had a good time.
The rest of last week consisted of finishing up our Czech language intensive course. It was quite intense. The weekend consisted of exploring a little more of the night life here in Prague. Saturday afternoon, I had one of my best meals yet. Pork (something) with spicy potatoes all doused in creamy mustard sauce. I wish I had taken a picture of it.
Our “official semester” started this week, I didn’t post about it until today because I didn’t feel the need until I actually had class. I was lucky enough to get Monday’s and Friday’s off, perfect for traveling.
Oh, speaking of which, I just booked my first trip….to Vienna.