05 June 2011

Prague's fringe

To me fringe is a decoration or something on the periphery. In British English, fringe is a hairstyle that Americans call bangs. But this weekend I found that fringe is also a well-known festival that many cities put on to recognize theatre and musical arts performed by international guests. Who knew?! I was clearly a Fringe Festival virgin but Prague Fringe Festival 2011 showed me how its done.

I barely scratched the surface, seeing only a handful of the 39 performers. Each show was very different and the original material is refreshing. My favorite was Mari-May Gill, an Australian who sang comedy to her guitar. She briefed the audience about her hometown, jackaroos, bundy, and FFP then sang about sheep, cabarets, and homebrews. Another popular theme of the show was a comedic desire to be French.

Two others that I really enjoyed were musical artists. Both were completely different in their own respects. Andi Neate is a Scottish singer/songwriter. She sings beautiful crisp melodies of life, nature, and love to her guitar. The other was Phebe Starr, an Australian singing indie, j-pop songs to her tastefully synthesized piano.

Obviously I was pleasantly surprised by the Prague Fringe Festival and will actively participate in other Fringe Festivals in participating cities wherever life takes me next.

02 June 2011

Things to Appreciate.

My European adventure is winding down and I'm headed back to the states in 3 weeks. I'm excited about where my future will be and what my next challenge is. But reverse culture shock is around the corner. I'm accustomed to the easy lifestyle here and in ways it will be difficult to readjust to good ol' Amurica. Of course there are things things to like and dislike about living the Czech Republic. But I'm going to leave here on a positive note and focus on the things that have been pleasant and memorable.

  1. My students, the ones who laughed with me AND at me. They taught me how to teach.
  2. The wonderful girls I've lived with for the past 9 months. we shared a 10x10 space, a bathroom, a hot plate, and lots of good craic (that's Irish slang for "good times").
  3. The generous people who have invited or re-invited me into their homes and befriended a foreigner.
  4. The most delicious beer in the world. Remember 10 months ago when I didn't even really like beer?
  5. Communicative and cultural obstacles. You're probably thinking "WHAT?! Why will you miss that?" I've found that when there's linguistic or cultural barriers, you find genuine people who are willing to work to overcome them. It's a challenge that I accept here everyday. It's often frustrating but it always leads to an educational and enriching conversation or solution.
  6. Czech crowns- living here is cheap. Czechs compare everything to the price of a beer (a half liter is about 20-35 CZK or 1-1.50 USD). For example: I heard a man say he wouldn't get his hair cut at this one place because it was too expensive. "120 CZK for a haircut?! That's like 5 beers!" That is the ultimate stinginess.
  7. Farmer Markets galore and the availability of foods without preservatives and modified ingredients thanks to EU food regulations and legislation.
  8. Amazing public transportation and the European Rail system with the ability to travel anywhere without a car.
  9. Not having to pay bills- contracts that include free housing, utilities, and internet ROCK. Then again I'm living in a 40 year old, pre-fabricated dormitory... but still.
  10. Working about 30 hours per week and having 4 day workweeks. Of course teaching 11 classes (1.5 hours each), lesson planning, and grading hundreds of essays, homework assignments and tests is no walk in the park but I really enjoyed the downtime afterwards.

And many more things to miss. As my 5th (or 6th depending how you count it) European adventure comes to a close I always have my next one to look forward to. My life as proved that if you take a Europhile out of Europe and she'll find a way to come back.

01 May 2011

Czech pagan traditions- witch burning and whips

Last night witches were aflame all over the Czech Republic . According the the pagan tradition, burning a witch on April 30 (a cross-quarter day falling between solstices and equinoxes) symbolizes winter's demise and the birth of spring. I attended the ritual in a small village with a friend who showed me how Czechs celebrate. It began and ended with Slivovice- the Czech national liquor made of distilled plums. In between shots were lots of fireworks, delicious grilled meat, and laughter. The witch we burned was a rather accurate dummy- 10 fingers, wearing shoes, a stuffed bra, a wig, and 2 measly teeth in her Sharpie-drawn mouth. It was a community event- neighbors joined to celebrate together.
I love the unique traditions that Czechs celebrate. Another tradition happened just a week ago for Easter. Easter is celebrated only on Monday. On this special day Czech boys braid willow branches to make whips. They go around the streets whipping women on the behind apparently to promote fertility. After a woman is whipped, she gives the boy a painted egg, chocolate, or a shot of alcohol.

whips and decorated eggs
Czech woman carving eggs
These celebrations are all new to me and have opened my eyes to how different people around the world have unique traditions that they hold dear and pass down to each generation.

28 April 2011

International Children's Festival of Folk Dances

After 8 months in Europe I finally saw some traditional folk dancing. It's something that I had wanted to experience especially in Central and Eastern Europe where rich cultural traditions have been rediscovered after the fall of communism. While out and about in Istanbul, a friend and I unexpectedly hit folk dancing gold. A free outdoor performance for the International Children's Festival of Folk Dances. BINGO!
Hungarian boys
Hungarian girls
We saw the most adorable kids from Turkey, Slovakia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Bosnia Herzegovina dressed in beautiful traditional clothing. They were kicking, jumping, twirling, and bouncing in ways I've never seen before. At one point a young Turkish boy ran up a human ramp made by the other boys and leaped down. Just like that, no big deal! So young and so talented! 
Bulgarian girls
Watching these kids made me want to go back to my childhood and be more culturally involved. I did ballet, gymnastics, piano lessons, and lots of other enriching activities. All of which were amazing but aren't connected with one culture. What tradition am I related to anyways? Italian-American? American? Texan? Perhaps my lack of traditional roots is why I am so interested in the cultures and traditions of others. 

School's almost out (again)!

This time last year I was hyped up about graduating and moving to the Czech Republic to teach English. Now it's almost over- the teaching part at least. I have 2 weeks left of class before the examination period begins. Somehow 25 weeks of class flew by and I'll be standing in front of my students for the last time very soon. It's an unusual relationship I have with my students, probably because I'm so young. I feel half like their friend and half like their mother- a mother who wants her children to learn something because it will help them in life. English really will help them. Almost all high position jobs in the Czech Republic require knowledge of a foreign language. In Prague, where millions of tourists pass through each year, English is easily the most useful. Regardless of whether they retained any information, we had lots of fun times in class (or at least I enjoyed laughing at my jokes).
It will be strange to move on but I am looking forward to becoming a student again in the not-so-distant future. Having been a teacher I know I will be a better student.

Side note: I've been teaching and traveling non-stop. It may seem that I forgot about blogging when actually I've been blogging more than ever- just not on this one. My class blog this semester was a huge success in promoting communication and online learning tools. I'm going to try to keep it running even after I return home. But grading this stack of essays on my desk is more urgent. C'est la vie!

24 April 2011

Photo of the week- The sun sets behind Istanbul

On a ferry across the Bosphorus Sea between Europe and Asia is the place to be at sunset. Shadowed minarets from countless mosques dramatically pierce the sky and compose an impressive scene- the perfect precursor to an unforgettable night.

15 April 2011

Sparta Praha + Slavia Praha= FIRE!

I've been to one European football match before (flashback to my Olympique Lyonnais experience) but Czech football is in a league of its own. A friend scored us some tickets to one of the largest rival games in the Czech Republic- Sparta Praha vs Slavia Praha (3rd row for only 220 CZK- that's about $11)! We were in for quite an experience- surely one I will never forget.
Sparta Praha fans
Slavia Praha fans
This match wasn't actually about football, it was about fans. The fans were on fire... literally! First we saw flares then fire. My American and Northern Irish friends who were with me felt uncomfortable and prepared to evacuate. The fires seemed to be out of control! Hardly. According to our Czech friends it is completely normal. It is what the "Ultra" fans normally do to rile up the other team's "Ultra" fans. These hooligans are separated from other spectators by a high security metal railing fence with an anti-climb curved top. Conclusion: these guys challenge each other to the biggest fire in the stadium while at the same time being unable to escape quickly if something goes wrong. What does security do? They make an announcement "Please refrain from using pyrotechnics inside the stadium." So we drank our beers and ate our sausages while watching a football match illuminated by fire and engulfed in a stadium of smoke. Sparta Praha won 2-0. What a night!

25 March 2011

Celebrating St. Mathew athiest style.

There's always something new to see when wandering around Prague. This weekend my stroll around town led me to the Prague Exhibition grounds- only because I was wondering where the thumping music was coming from. What I found was the annual St Mathew's Fair. According to the Prague Experience website, it is one of the most popular fairs in the Czech Republic.

Photos of the neon-colored rides don't do justice to the sensory overload. Blaring electronic music from each attraction competed with the blaring electronic music from the neighboring attraction. Spray-painted images of half-naked females were the backdrop of most rides. People of all ages were enjoying the questionable and overpriced roller coasters. I was swept away by the moment and even enjoyed one myself. But one was enough and I'm glad to still be intact after that experience. Needless to say, it is one of the most interesting ways I've ever "celebrated" the life of a Christian saint.

22 March 2011

Central Europe Reading List

It's become a habit of mine to read a couple books at a time. I don't recommend it, but I can recommend some great books especially on the topic of Central Europe. There are great authors from Central Europe and luckily many of their books have been translated into English. I've already mentioned the one of the most obvious authors from Prague- Franz Kafka in an earlier post about the Franz Kafka Museum

Another excellent author is Milan Kundera, He is of Czech origin but he calls France home after leaving Czechoslovakia in exile. His original work is translated from French. His books, like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke (my favorite) give excruciating detail into the minds of Czechs during communism. Although he is considered less than a saint by many Czechs, he nevertheless is a brilliant and internationally renowned author. Why do Czechs disapprove? That's a great question for our next author.

Do you want to get into the mind of a Czech? Get all the answers in one place with Terje B. Englund's book called The Czechs in a Nutshell. He reviews everything alphebetically from the history of Jan Hus, to little Czech quirks like "Socks and Sandals". I've read books like this before but nothing as all-encompassing and fun to read as this one.

For a non-traditional architectural and historical view of Prague I recommend a book by Hilary A. James and Jiří P. Musil. This book, called Prague, My Love: An unusual guide book to the hidden corners of Prague, is great for it's cute illustrations and little facts about buildings that locals pass everyday without acknowledging. Included is a map to help readers find each building or site that is mentioned in the book. A side note about this book: I recommend this book only for its historical content. The story line pretty terrible and the (lack of) editing might do your head in.

For a powerful and heavy read, try Night by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. In this novel, the Nobel Peace Prize winning author describes his life leading up to and during his imprisonment and the dehumanizing effect of Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.

My most recent paperback companion is Flights of Love by Bernard Schlink (also the author of The Reader). It was recommended by one of Schlink's students (a friend of mine who's a law student at Humboldt University in Berlin). It's so captivating that I read at least 50 pages each time I crack it open. Beautiful stories of love, desire, betrayal, and guilt. All with a touch of Central European history and culture. Guaranteed page turner.

Don't worry there's more to come...

20 March 2011

Czechs Generalizing Czechs

The assignment for my class: Write some tips for a foreign visitor to your country.

 It was meant to be a lesson about ESL generalizations and social behavior but turned out to be more of a "what not to do" for me as the foreigner. I jotted down a few of the most interesting ones. Again these are straight from Czech students and I don't know if they are always applicable. Feel free to comment on their accuracy. 

  • "It is not acceptable for women to pour alcohol at the dinner table." (Whoops!)
  • "In general men shouldn't drink beer on a first date."
  • "It's normal for young people not to tip at restaurants" (Hence the terrible customer service.)
  • "You should never give two flowers as a gift unless it is for a funeral.
  • "It is important put down a drink coaster before the waiter brings your beer." (Seriously, they will give you the stink eye if you forget.)
  • "It is impolite to drink your beer before saying 'Na Zdraví'."
  • "People expect you to give your seat up for children or old people on the bus" (I noticed this immediately.)
Of course there were other interesting tips but not necessarily appropriate to post on the internet-- especially because I don't know if they're true.

14 March 2011

One World. One life.

If you follow me, you probably know that I love film festivals.  When I heard about one in Prague I literally jumped at the chance to participate in this year's Jeden Svět One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. First allow me to catch your attention with the hilarious festival trailer. The festival slogan this year is "Your energy is needed elsewhere" which hits home when you witness the efforts of young people who are competing in Czech drinking games.

More seriously, now. There's is a brilliant selection of eye-opening films with over 200 screenings for 9 days straight. The passionate film-makers, who call attention to human right crimes around the world, are present at the films to share their experiences and enlighten the audience with their experiences. Festivals like these remind me what journalism is all about and prove that there still are good people in who want to make the world a better place. The ultimate message is that of hope- that things can change and to do so you need will power and a voice. I wish I could screen them all, but the two I've seen so far have been outstanding and come with my recommendation.
The first is Rainmakers:

and Blood in Mobile

Films are 80 CZK and are all available with Czech and English subtitles. Check out the schedule, there's still a few days left!

06 March 2011

České Budějovice and the original Budweiser

Another sunny weekend in the ČR made for a great day trip two hours south of Prague to a smaller city called České Budějovice. It's quite the mouthful, pronounced Chess-kay Boo-day-yo-vitz-say. It is actually quite a large town, bigger than I expected but still easily navigable. It's claim to fame is, you guessed it, the original Budweiser brewery and (completely unrelated) one of Europe's largest market squares named Naměsti Přemysla Otakara II. 

A brief self-guided walking tour revealed the city's many historical treasures that would normally go unnoticed. The key to finding them is to look up. Boroque, Art Nouveau, and Gothic-Renaissance architecture literally towers over the streets simply overlooked by the daily passer-bys. The city is seamed together by the Vltava and Malše Rivers, which are lined with benches and pedestrians- a great place to eat lunch and people-watch. Of all the places I've traveled in the Czech Republic, České Budějovice definitely was the most bike-friendly. At first it took me by surprise. What are those mechanical wheely-things propelling humans forward? Oh yeah: bicycles. It's been far too long since I've seen bicycles in a city setting, not to mention the weather has not allowed cycling for the past few months. Needless to say it was a refreshing day-trip out of the big city and the brewery was just an added bonus.

You might be wondering if Budějovický/Budweiser Budvar is the same as the Anheuser-Busch Budwieser and the answer is a simple no. There's no question that the Czech Budweiser (sold as Czechvar in the states) is the original and, in my opinion, much tastier. I was interesting to visit this brewery, especially after a grand tour of it's Czech rival, Pilsner Urquell. The two breweries and their tours are very different and in their own ways are equally impressive. I think the biggest differences lie in the fact that Pilsner is owned by SABMiller while Budvar remains state-owned since the days of communism. I was absolutely mesmerized by the Bottling Plant and took some video which you can see below.  The tour, tasting, and overall experience was a 10 and was followed up with a delicious brew straight from the tanks at the renowned Masné Krámy Restaurant in the city center. 

27 February 2011

Photo of the Week- Bohemian Carnevale Praha

Gathering of the masks in in front of Old Town Hall. 
Soirées! Feasts! Costumes! Bohemian Carnevale has official begun! 

26 February 2011

Perspective: Terezín Concentration Camp

Thousand of names of those who died at Terezín.
Terezín is 50 minutes northwest of Prague and provides a different perspective on the horrors of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. It is by no means easy to get there but thankfully my travel companion Rick Steve's gave perfect instructions.

Terezín was built in the 18th century as a military fortress by the Habsburg Empire and as part of a adjoining garrison town. Later it was transformed into a political prison where Gavrilo Princip, assassin of Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand and his wife, was kept until death.

When the Germans came through Czechoslovakia, Terezín was transformed into a concentration camp practically overnight. It wasn't a typical camp like what I found at Dachau outside of Munich.  Instead, Jewish prisoners were held behind these brick walls before being transfered to extermination camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau. There were no gas chambers at Terezín but still thousands died of disease, exposure, malnutrition, excecutions, etc.
"Work will set you free"

Terezín was used in Nazi propaganda, which made concentration camps look like happy Jewish communities. The camp got a facelift before a Red Cross inspection in 1944. Prisoners worked to spruced the whole place up with a café, flowers, fake sanitary facilities, a soccer stadium, etc. Needless to say, the Red Cross was impressed by their 6 hour stay (every minute was performed and scripted to please the guests.) The Museum of the Ghetto shows clips of Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (The Führer Gives a City to the Jews). Kurt Gerron, a Terezín prisoner, was forced to make the film showing the camp as a happy Jewish settlement. The soccer games, concerts, and dances depicted in the film were far from reality. This propaganda and trickery that the prisoners were forced to accept must have been just as painful as physical torture. It opened my eyes to a different perspective of the Nazi Final Solution and the atrocities that prisoners suffered in this region of the world during World War II.

20 February 2011

Photo of the Week- City of 100 Spires

Prague is "The City of 100 Spires". This is one city that lives up to its nickname.
The spires of Prague from Letná Park.

Quick Visit Home

Before now I've never had a "quick visit" to my home country. It's always the other way around- a quick visit to Europe or Mexico. But 2 weeks ago I took a "quick trip" to Texas and Oklahoma to visit my family and friends. A quick 10 days to fight jet lag, catch up on X's and O's that just aren't the same over skype, meet a new human being who was born after I left in September, stuff my mouth with Mexican food, and say goodbye again. It was a huge change from my lifestyle here in the Czech Republic but it is surprising how easy it is to adjust to the numerous luxuries of being home where everything is comfortable and communication comes easily.

A quick visit is enough to fall in love with my new nephew. I had seen him before on skype but to hold him and kiss his soft cheeks was an experience that can't be digitalized. He's a spunky and vocal little chunk and I'm so excited to see how he has grown and changed when I see him again in 4 months.

During my quick visit I got to spend my birthday with my family and boyfriend- the only thing I requested for my birthday. As a bonus I got to watch American football! Yes, the Super Bowl was conveniently scheduled on my birthday. 

The only surprise of my quick visit was the weather in TX and OK. Usually you can count on sunny skies and 65 degrees (F) even in February. But upon my arrival there was a freak ice storm so all of North Texas promptly closed down for about a week. The outdoor jogs I dreamed of where quickly out the window but I definitely don't mind snuggling in front of a fire with my family and boyfriend. In actuality it couldn't have been more perfect. 

A great quick trip was followed up by a great first week back in Prague. School is in session again. The familiar faces of my students were a welcoming sight upon my return. I'm looking forward to another great semester of teaching my students and learning from my students. 

30 January 2011

Photo of the Week- Prague's Beating Heart

The Prague Metronome in Letnà Park towers 75 feet over one of the most scenic overlooks in town. The red needle rocks back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until onlookers are hypnotized by the passing of time. It proudly passes the hours, minutes, and seconds since the largest representation of Josef Stalin in the world once stood in its place. With each tick the needle waves goodbye to the past and welcomes the future.

A compilation of some video I took that day:

29 January 2011

A trip to the Moo-zaym

My affection towards Prague is no secret. I've seen a lot of this magnificent city in 5 months but I can't get enough. It wasn't until recently that I got around to visiting some of Prague's famous museums. I was careful in choosing which museums to see (museum burnout can be harmful to the tourist experience-- e.g. Berlin's Museum Island). Here's the rundown:

Mucha Museum
You would probably recognize Mucha's (pronouced Moo-kha) style featuring fairy-tale women and art nouveau decorations. His art and life-story are equally beautiful. After visiting the museum and seeing his art around Prague, he's easily become one of my favorite artists.

Franz Kafka Museum
Before going to the museum it may interest you to read one or two of Kafka's famous books. I recommend The Trial. I think it embodies the problems that both Kafka and Czechoslovakia were dealing with in the early 20th century. If you dig Kafka's style (aka Kafkaesque) you may also enjoy The Castle, America, or Metamorphosis. In addition to reading up, I also recommend doing a Kafka tour of Prague either on your own or with a tour group. A quick walk around the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter will reveal many of his dwellings, a plaque, and a statue in his honor. With some knowledge of his books and his Prague life the museum will really bring everything together for you, otherwise you might just find him depressing and/or creepy.

Modigliani exhibit is showing at Obecní Dum (Municiple House) through 28 February 2011. I love me some Modiggs but I wasn't the only one who thought the show fell short of its hype. However a trip to the Municiple House is a worth it in itself. It was built in the Art Nouveau style by many famous Czech artists, like Mucha in the early 20th century. It's worth taking the building tour- it's the only way to go above ground level.

27 January 2011

Karlovy Vary is good for your health

One of the few advantages of traveling in the dead of winter is less crowds in tourist destinations. This was my mindset when I took the 2 hour bus journey to Karlovy Vary in January. This small Bohemian town is in the northwest "spa-triangle" region and the hot attractions (pun intended) are the thermal springs. You may remember from the photo of the week that there are 13 drinkable hot springs. Hot water from the Earth doesn't taste like the "fresh spring water" you find in bottles at Whole Foods. I'm at a loss for adjectives to describe, but I'll settle on salty, metallic, and therefore repulsive. I choked down as much as possible- when in Rome Karlovy Vary, right?! To help with the taste there are special sweet wafers (lázeňské oplatky) that, if swallowed in combination with the mineral water, are supposed to neutralize the salty taste. It didn't work in my opinion. Despite the taste, the mineral water from this region is actually said to be very good for your health. Balneology, the study of medicinal springs, has been a part of this region since the 14th century. The history of the springs and their alluring display under magnificent colonnades is enough to attract you from one to the next- giving you quite a nice tour around town.

The mineral water treatment wasn't for me. But there's an easier (and more fun) way to reap the health benefits of this region. It all started when pharmacist Josef Becher created an herbal medicine using the mineral water from this spa region. But it is no longer sold in pharmacies. Instead you'll find the famous Czech concoction called Becherovka in the liquor store possibly right next other Czech favorites like Slivovitz or Absinthe. Even with its fame as a liquor, Becherovka is still said to have health benefits, like improved digestion, at a recommended 40 cl daily. That's 2 shots per day of a medicine many people don't mind taking! The Jan Becher Museum (named after Josef's son) is great for learning and drinking. At the end of the tour they serve shots not only of Becherovka original, but also 2 other products. One of my favorites is Becherovka Lemond. Before you drink in the Czech Republic you say na zdraví which means "to your health." With Becherovka it really is to your health! 
Are there other alcoholic drinks that started off as "medicinal"? 
In what other languages to you drink "to your health"? I only know of the Czech na zdraví  and French á santé.

23 January 2011

Photo of the Week- Hungarian Language Barrier

It's not enough for the Hungarian language to sound difficult. It even confuses my eyes. I'll never understand it but I will continue to marvel at it's fascinating intonation and alphabet. 

16 January 2011

Photo of the Week- Thermal Springs

Everyone in Karlovy Vary carries around a glass cup to capture a few drops of thermal mineral water from any of the 13 springs in town. It is believed to have health benefits for numerous ailments. The water is hot (between 86°F and 161°F) and salty. In my opinion it wasn't bad nor was it good. If beauty is pain, maybe health is pain too.

15 January 2011

Rainy day escapes in Prague

It almost feels like spring here. All the snow has melted and it has been raining on and off for the past week. I expect to see sun any day now. In the meantime I've been exploring the indoor lifestyle and hangouts in Prague.

Any beer-lover will appreciate the Czech brews on-tap and large variety of imports available at Pivovarský klub. It is a clean, non-smoking, and friendly atmosphere to try beer after beer. They also serve traditional Czech meals and appetizers to keep your stomach smiling all beer long.

For a more Zen-like atmosphere U zeleného čaje teahouse is the perfect place. Order up a cup or pot of organic tea steeped to perfection. The tearoom may have a Chinese feel, but the tasty treats and bookshelf (English and Czech books) reflect the Czech culture and history. Its prime location in Malá Strana is ideal for a quick sit down or a leisurely rest during a day out.

Absinthe is an experience not to be missed while in Prague. As an American I know that it is rare and unlikely to find it in an pub back home but maybe for a good reason. There are many places to spot the green fairy in Prague but I recommend Absinthe Time. The staff was knowledgeable and patient in answering all the questions we had about this mysterious green alcohol. When you're dealing fire and 70% alcohol you should expect nothing less. Try the Czech and French methods- they're worth your time and money. Not to mention 2 shots of Absinthe goes a long way.

At the last of my recommended hang-outs the intake of alcoholic or caffeinated drinks is optional. The main attraction at BIO|OKO is the independent movie theater. Most of the movies are in English with the added bonus of Czech subtitles. There's a cozy café and bar in the lobby- both dog and hipster friendly.

Where's your favorite place to hang out in Prague on a rainy day?

11 January 2011


Dear People,

I know you're out there. Blogger stats tells me so. Hundreds of people from all over the world read my blog. LEAVE COMMENTS PLEASE! Maybe you have a request, a suggestion, an opinion. I'm a traveler. Travelers love recommendations of where to go, tid-bits of knowlegde, personal anecdotes, anything!

If you're visiting and have a blog of your own be sure to leave the url!

So let's begin our dialogue. Budapest is in my horizon. What should I see, do, eat, or drink? Good books to read about it, Hungarian authors, internet articles, movies? What do comes to mind when you think of Hungary?

09 January 2011

Photo of the Week- Charles Bridge

If you've ever been to Prague you have walked across Karlův Most- Charles Bridge. During certain months of the year it may take up to an hour in the crowds to cross, but today it was a breeze. Prague is cold and treacherously icy in January but the tourist crowds have subsided (for now). Charles Bridge was pleasurable at sunset with minimal crowds and even a small Czech assembly marched across singing with brass accompaniment.

08 January 2011

2011 To Dos

It's the dawn of the new year and I just got around to thinking about resolutions. A resolution... a firm decision to do or not to do something. I prefer to do something. Lots of things, in fact. I have made an extensive list of things to do. In Prague, in the Czech Republic, and in Central/ Eastern Europe. This list is private. I don't expect to complete the list by any means but it is a reminder and encouragement to make the most of my last 6 months living in Prague. And after I do these to dos I will write about them here- to reflect, to share, and to remember in the future.

07 January 2011

Requirements Fulfilled

Today is the last day of the winter semester at the Czech university where I teach. The school system is different to say the least. For the past week I have spent my class time calling each student to my desk and signing their student index (a book which resembles a passport) if they passed my class. Započteno- requirements fulfilled. About 275 times.

I'm proud of most of my students. Most of them tried hard to learn English. And I tried my best to teach them English. Therefore their success is mine. 275 signatures in their indexes. Započteno to my students and započteno to me.

02 January 2011

Photo of the Week- this time last year

This time last year we were on a family ski vacation near Granby, Colorado. 
Winter was beautiful and the aspen trees were calling me.