Hello All -
Hopefully not all of you have given up on my blogging ability by now, seeing as I'm about a month behind in my entries. Never fear though! I will be completely up to date by Thursday because Friday I leave for Croatia and Spain and I want to be caught up. Also a nice surprise today was the snow on the ground and the note on the door of classroom one indicating that BOTH of my classes have been canceled. So instead of using this time to write a paper I will blog - because it's more fun.
The weekend of February 28 and 29th and March 1st and 2nd Laura, Allison and I were going to go to Brugge and Antwerp in Belgium but we decided to stay home. We were all still recovering from being sick, our ten day adventure and we were absolutely exhausted. What we did instead was lounge around Well and bond with our castlemates. I went on a bike ride with my friends Sara and Jenn - we biked all the way to Germany! This sounds impressive but in Well we are really only a few miles from the border. We had lunch in a grassy field underneath some power generating wind turbines. It was very cool. I also got a chance to walk around the town of Well and see what there was to see. It was totally worth staying because I got homework done, recovered from my cold and made friends with more people at the Castle.
The weekend of March 6th - 9th we went to Prague. It turned out that a ton of Emerson kids were going to Prague this weekend - there were probably about 25 of us in total. Allison, Laura, Steve, Adam our friend Shannon and I took a sleeper car overnight Thursday night, arriving in Prague Friday morning around 9am. As we arrived on the train we could see that Prague was very different from any place we had been yet. Eastern Europe is SO different from Western Europe as it's not as...well...westernized. I really liked Eastern Europe on the whole - I think people are nicer than they are in Western Europe much of the time.
We decided to go and drop our bags at the Hostel before setting off for a day of exploring. We stayed at a place called Chili Backpacker Hostel which was dirt cheap, roughly $9 a night, and really quite nice. There was even breakfast in the morning! If you ever go to Prague I recommend staying there. We wandered around until we ended up in one of the main squares by the Jewish side of town where the Astrological Clock was. Steve kept referring to it as the "Astronomical Clock" which I found to be quite amusing once I figured out that it must be called the Astrological Clock because it had all the Astrological symbols on it. He was positive it was called the Astronomical clock. He was very wrong. We decided to get some lunch and on the way to find some place to eat we encountered a lively old man playing a very old saxophone. He sang Czech songs and played his saxophone and was generally adorable. We were fans. Laura and Allison stopped at a place called the Bio Cafe and Steve, Adam, Shannon and I went in search of more traditional Czech food. We found a really awesome little cafe where we got cheap chicken and fries - some of the best I've had in Europe. We made it back to the square just in time to see the Astronomical/Astrological clock chime at 1pm - unfortunately it wasn't that exciting. It was kind of one of those things you expect to be really magnificent and then it's not and you find it rather comical.
We continued to wander over into the Jewish area and found the Spanish Synagogue which was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Adam was really pleased that for once we could go into a synagogue instead of just churches. All of the detailing was done with paint instead of with gold leafing or paneling which shows that you don't have to use the most expensive/gaudy materials in order to produce something beautiful. After the Spanish Synagogue we walked around the Jewish District a bit more then we saw a giant metronome on the top of a hill across the river and we knew we had to go explore. We climbed so many steep hills to get to the top but the view was worth it. You could see the entire city. There was a ton of graffiti all the way up and once you reached the top there was a skate park of all things. There was also a park and a nature type area on the back side of the hill which we played around in for a while. We then walked back down and followed the river to the Charles Bridge which we crossed and we then found the strange peeing man statue/fountain. I still can't figure out what the purpose of such a statue would be...art perhaps? We then met up with a bunch of birds and fed some swans and stuff. Allison, Steve, Adam and Laura decided they wanted to go out on a boat cruise on the river but Shannon and I opted out because it was really expensive and I don't love boats so I figured I would stay on dry land.
Shannon and I ended up getting bread and cheese for dinner and seeing a crazy black light theater show. Real Czech culture. It was quite bizarre. It was like Imago theater where real people interact with things created by day-glo paint, black lights and foam that are controlled by people dressed all in black so you cannot see them. It's really hard to explain but believe me - it was really odd. We met up with Adam and Steve who both decided they would go back to the Hostel and sleep as both of them had had a bit too much to drink on the ship. Allison Laura, Shannon and I went out to a bar but it was pretty lame and I was really tired anyway so Shannon and I went to bed.
Saturday the 8th of March was our second full day in Prague. We decided it would be a great day to go to Prague Castle. In the morning we got up, got breakfast and left around 10:30. We got quite lost on the way to Prague Castle because there are only a few streets that lead to it and our Hostel was really far from everything. We stopped at a bagel shop and got the much sought after bagel with cream cheese - they don't really do bagels here, out of all the carbohydrates they serve the bagel is not one. Finally we arrived at Prague castle and we went into a giant Basilica called St. Vitus and took lots of pictures. The only issue I have found with churches in Europe is that they are so big it seems it is impossible to heat them so they are all FREEZING cold. It's quite interesting.
We continued to explore Prauge castle by going to an exhibit that told us all about the history of Prague and Prague Castle. It's really interesting to go to a country that you don't know anything about. It occurred to me that we never really learn about Czech History in school. It was a pretty good exhibit but, like all of the museums we've been to, there is only so much one can look at before getting really bored of museums. We visited St. George's Basilica and the Golden Lane and Dalibor Tower. We also tried to visit a toy museum that, for some odd reason, was up at the castle. It was only after climbing about 8 flights of stairs that we found out it wasn't included in admission to the castle. Around 5 pm we returned to the Hostel and Laura and Allison took naps and I read for a while. We decided that we were going to go out to dinner for a traditional Czech meal and we asked the receptionist at the hostel where we should go. We ended up at this great little restaurant with live accordion music. I got roast beef with a cranberry type sauce and bread dumplings. It was so delicious. The roast beef was so tender. It was delicious. After spending what felt like hours figuring out the check - it was in czech and set up in a very strange way - we went back to the hostel and had a few drinks with the other Emerson kids staying there. I turned in for the night around midnight because I was exhausted.
The next morning I was up and ready a few hours before everyone else so I decided to go exploring in Prague by myself. I walked all over from one side of town all along to the river to the other. It was really nice. I really enjoy walking around by myself and exploring somewhere I've never been before. It's especially nice to be able to turn down whichever street looks most appealing and not have anyone fight you on where you want to go. Around noon Allison and Laura joined me and we walked over to the shopping district we had seen on the first day. I made my first clothing purchase while in Europe - I bought a dress from H&M. Everything in the Prague H&M was so much cuter than in any other H&M's I've seen. Anyhow. We met up with Shannon and Steve back at the hostel and boarded our overnight train back to Emerson.
I really liked Prague because it was so different than anywhere else I've been. Eastern Europe has a really different feel to it and that is part of its charm I think. Next weekend is the weekend of Helen Han.