Thursday, December 10, 2009

The British Are Coming: Part II (Re: we're still tourists sometimes)

This past weekend Hannah decided to come visit me in Prague from Bonn, Germany where she's currently doing her year abroad as a teaching assistant. Sometimes it's awesome living in a hot tourist destination as it means everyone wants to visit me! She got in Friday night and we partook in our usual shenanigans at places like Shakespeare and Red Room, but Saturday was set aside for what I like to call "touristy things". When you actually live in a stated "tourist destination" sometimes you need a good excuse to be a tourist, and that excuse is friends! Our destinations were Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí), Charles Bridge (Karlův most) and my favorite, the peeing statues.

Here is Hannah eating my favorite Czech delicacy, trdelník. It's basically dough with nuts and sugar in it rolled around a metal or wooden bar and turned over a fire until browned, then coated in cinnamon and sugar. So. Good. Here is some trdelník in action:

Another not-just-Czech delicacy is punč, which is supposed to be hot wine with spices, fruit and nuts in it. The punch we had that day was a big over-priced let down though. Best described by someone we overheard while walking by, "this tastes like toothpaste water."

Part of "touristy things" is getting really excited in prime tourist locations. Josh and I did this pretty well, but that other guy in the picture was NOT having it.

I learned a lot that day. Most notably, the facts of life. Josh was well-acquainted with them already, however. This picture sort of sums up both my life and my great love of these statues, if you can't tell by how many pictures of them I post.

We supported lesbians.

And saw these crazy dudes. They're a bunch of men walking up the steps, slowly deteriorating until the last one at the top is just a foot. A quick Google tells me this memorial was unveiled on the 22nd of May 2002 and is the first memorial to victims of the Communist regime. Located at the base of Petrin Hill, these scary statues represent different phases of a human figure’s destruction.

In light of that, this photo of mine might be a little inappropro. They really are quite cool to look at though in addition to being very randomly located, which seems to be the Czech way. Think babies climbing up a TV tower, which I'll have a photo of as soon as I can get a good one.

Saturday night we went to a party to celebrate Sara finally getting her work visa. Believe me, this is something that calls for a celebration. We ate grapes.

And got drunk. From the left: me, Sara, Hannah and Andrea. Ignore the drunk glaze in my eyes, it happens.

After the party, we took an epic walking journey to Bukowski's in Žižkov to continue drinking. By the tree at Jiřího z Poděbrad (JZP), this one's for the Christmas cards...

Hannah and I decided that Slezská sounds a lot like "lesbian".

On Sunday, we met up with Hannah's friend Helena from uni who lives just outside of Brno, the second biggest Czech city. We wandered around Prague some more being tourists, took a trip to Prague cathedral, etc. Here's a picture of the Charles Bridge looking pretty. Another fine weekend in Prague!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To Olomouc we go!

On November 28th, Jess and I were supposed to go to Český Krumlov, but there was only one bus ticket left between the two of us, so we didn't. Since we'd both stayed up the entire night without sleeping, Jess for her radio show and me for no good reason (except maybe those espressos with rum in them from Ouky Douky) we decided we NEEDED an adventure lest our cracked out sleep-deprived turmoil be for naught. Rick Steves told us to go to Olomouc, about 3 hours away, so at the ripe hour of 8:30am we did just that. Here is our day in photos:

We got on a train. We were excited.

But it was a special train and we were supposed to have made reservations. Oops. So the conductor made us pay more money. Fail.

Jess talked to herself.

When we got there, we were informed there was a MASSIVE PARTY! What luck!

But we decided to indulge our inner academics instead. Or something. And there was a blue balloon!

We drank punč. In essence, this is hot red wine with spices, nuts, dried fruit and fresh fruit. Delicious.

We went to the Christmas Market. We forgot that everything is closed in the Czech Republic on Saturdays outside of Prague. This was the only thing open really, but that's okay because....

We found stuffed boobies.

And this. You can see his pee-pee.

In Olomouc, they have pretty awesome graffiti. Like this. George W. Bush and Audrey Hepburn? Sure.

And this.

And coffee comes out of DOORS!

They don't like fascism.

They also like faggots with their noodles! I mean, why not?

The train ride home was pretty, but we were tired. At least we got on the non-special train this time, though we did have a bit of trouble with the boty policie for putting our shoes on the seats in the compartments. He was hardcore about it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Country-kid Fireworks

       "'Stop here,' David said suddenly. 'Pull ahead just a little, so the headlights are pointing up into the field. Now turn off the headlights.'
       The field sparkled with what must have been millions of fireflies--the most I've ever seen in one place. They'd probably brought their families from adjacent states into this atrazine-free zone. They blinked densely, randomly, an eyeful of frenzied stars.
       'Just try something,' David said. 'Flash the headlights one time, on and off.'
       What happened next was surreal. After our bright flash the field went black, and then, like a wave, a million lights flashed back at us in unison.
       Whoa. To convince ourselves this was not a social hallucination, we did it again. And again. Hooting every time, so pleased were we with our antics. It's a grand state of affairs, to fool a million brainless creatures all at the same time. After five or six rounds the fireflies seemed to figure out that we were not their god, or they lost their faith, or at any rate went back to their own blinky business.
       David chuckled. 'Country-kid fireworks.'"
                             -- Barbara Kingsolver (Animal. Vegetable. Miracle.)

I'm sort of excited for things like this to exist in my life soon, though, of course, now that my departure is imminent, I'm not having such a hard time here in Prague. Granted, I've only been in this wonderful mood since Thanksgiving, but I've felt pretty good about my lessons this week, had a great weekend and maybe even feel like I'm starting to get the hang of teaching. Figures.

Last night was spent with good friends and free sangria, and again, sometimes I just feel an overwhelming sense of pride in myself for getting here, for finding myself in a place surrounded by so many inspiring people. Even though I'm leaving, I worked hard to learn the ropes these several months. The TEFL course was probably one of the hardest and most intimidating things I've ever done and I survived it with a strong pass. While most of the time I feel like I've no idea what I'm doing in the classroom, the number of days I feel good about my lessons is slowly increasing. Recently, I've even started to notice my students using words or grammar concepts I taught them, which would induce a motherly sense of pride in any girl...if my students weren't mostly middle-aged men with children of their own. No Matter.

Regardless, Prague will always be here and I feel generally confident that this is what I need in my life right now. I was always bad at goodbyes. Awfully bad at them for someone who seems to thrive on this constant motion, propelled towards each new place though it may only be some blurry silhouette of a plan on the horizon.