Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blog 33: and the greatest of these is love


Christopher and Samantha are ENGAGED!!! so so very happy :) i have the best brother and can't wait to have a greatest sister in law as well. you two are so great together, i cant wait to get started on wedding plans! congrats, you two crazy kids. i love you both oh so very much.

love love love (is all around) from Prague!

Blog 32: it's a lovely monday in amsterdam

So it was such a great treat to have Sam and Dolly visit us all the way from America!! Seeing as they were our second set of houseguests we knew the drill. We set up their room and cleaned the flat for them, I even made them breakfast in the morning! We love having houseguests, so if youare reading this and have the urge to come visit, I make really great eggs in the morning :) (family style, I think I made like ten eggs, with mushrooms and onions…yummm)

(Prauge the afternoon we showed Sam and Dolly around)

We had so much fun showing Prague to them that they invited us to continue on their trek with them, which is how I ended up in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, Ash had to work this past week, so Sam, Dolly, and I hopped on the overnight train to Amsterdam and began our adventure!

(Amsterdam)

Let me just start out with this: I LOVED Amsterdam. I would (and hopefully will soon) go back in a heartbeat. It has its negative connotations with its legalization of marijuana and prostitution in the red light district. However, our extremely informative tour guide (we took a three hour guided tour of Amsterdam and it was AMAZING) told us that because of these policy implementations, Amsterdam has one of the lowest drug and crime rates in the world. I have heard of ideas like this, but it actually works in Amsterdam. The city was BEAUTIFUL and so clean. I loved the Dutch architecture, and in between every street is a waterway, with boats floating lazily along the streets. We had great weather, and I loved exploring the city. I would absolutely move there if I could.

(Amsterdam)

Amsterdam has a lot of cultural excursions, so we had to choose which ones we wanted to participate in while we were there for our short time (Sunday night- Wednesday night). We decided to go to the Van Gough Museum (the most famous one in the world), tour the Heineken Brewery (where Heineken started), and take the three hour guided walking tour of the city.


(Amsterdam)

The Van Gough museum was absolutely stunning. His works of art are impressive and his abilities are widespread. The collection was amazing because each piece was so different, yet they all came together cohesively. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.

The Heineken Brewery was amazingggg. We were surprised by it because we expected it to be this broken down old brewery from the 1900s, but boy were we wrong! It was very modern and new, and they had tons of exhibits for you to explore, rides for you to go on (you pretend like you are the beer getting brewed, it was pretty cool actually), beer for you to taste, and more! It was such a cool brewery; we all came out loving Heineken a little bit more. Their marketing technique? Successful. Dad, you would have loveddd it, if you ever make it over here ill take you to it, but for the mean time I took loads of pictures :)

(Heineken Brewery)

And the three hour tour, I cant even explain. I love the city so much it was fascinating to learn about its history. We learned interesting facts like marijuana is legal to sell (obviously) but it’s illegal to advertise that you sell it, so it has to be covered up with the premise that it’s a coffee shop that has huge bob marley posters in front and reeks of weed for no reason. Another thing I found interesting was the story of how the center of the Red Light District came to be a church, and how you have to pass around it (or most times through it) to get to the other side of the Red Light District. (it’s a long story, but ask me if you are interested).

(Amsterdam)

Anyways, it was a great trip. We met so many great new friends in our hostel. Kids from all over the world, doing the same thing we are. Out to see the world and meet others who are doing the same. The city was clean and beautiful and we had a fantastic time!

Since Ash couldn’t go, I had to travel back home alone (Dolly and Sam went off to London to head home) and I have to say im getting pretty good at the inter-europe traveling! But now im back home (safe and sound, so I know my grandparents are reading this with a sigh of relief) and ready to start work tomorrow!

Love love love from Prague!

P.S. The title came from the Monday we were there, we were just sitting on the side street of this beautiful old street with buildings covered in ivy, watching people ride by on their bicycles (the main form of transporation there, and yes we did rent them and ride all over the city, LOVED it) but as we realized that this was such a treat for us to be on vacation here, these people are just having a normal Monday morning. It would be as if we were at home getting errands run on a monday, and toursits were watching in awe. hahah but they looked so happy to be riding around the sunny streets of amsterdam. maybe the grass it always greener on the other side, but i think its safe to say the grass is pretty green in Amesterdam. xo xo



Blog 31: THE Sparkle Flat

Ladies and gentlemen, may i please present to you: The Sparkle Flat.













Welcome home!













View from the hang out room/living room out to the foyer and onto the balcony.













bathroommm













The other side of our bathroom, this white thing is what we were given as a dryer for our clothes. It only heats up in the winter. the rest of the time it is just a stationary metal weird rack thing in our bathroom. whaaaat?













love the view from the balcony :)













bedroom! (guess which bed is mine....)


my bed!










our entire room dedicated to clothing: the dressing room.










our hanging out/living room













the kitchen!










view from the foyer onto the balcony/ the toilet (its in a separate room from the bathroom, weird right?)













breakfast nook :)













view from the balcony to the bedroom/ hangout room


and that's our lovely little flat! sorry the pictures are in kind of an odd order, they didnt upload properly!

love love love from Prague (specifically the Sparkle Flat)!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog 30: here come the dinosaurs...

I’m back! Sorry for the lapse, but life has been hectic lately (keep reading to find out whyyy...!) but I promise im back to blogging regularly now!

So, first things first… guess who got a job?! (um, yes, it’s me, you should know that by now) yaaaayyy! I will be working at Dino Preschool with a class of three year olds :) I will teach an hour English lesson in the morning and an hour English lesson in the afternoon. The rest of the time we just play, oh how perfect for me. Most of the kids already know English or are from English families. They go on loads of day trips around the city, horseback riding, etc. and twice a year we go on a skiing trip! Thank goodness for those Czech mountains! Im really looking forward to these trips, and I really like all the people I have met thus far that I will be working with. School starts on September first, so you better believe ill keep you updated!

Love love love from Prague!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blog 29: guests galore

Sorry for the long lapse in the blog, but it has been a busy week! I have loads to report (okay like two things) but now is not the time! We have new house guests in today (Welcome Sam and Dolly) and we will be showing them the city for the next two days! I promise I will fill you all in after this weekend!!

Love love love from Prague!!

ALSO i took pictures of the Sparkle Flat today, so I will post those... something to look forward to!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blog 28: aren’t you hungry?


In my family, it was (still is) quite usual to make a trip to the grocery store each and every day. Sometimes twice. We know all the Marsh cashiers by name, and we know which Marsh has the good sushi (Chris and I do anyways) but also whether you should buy certain food items at Marsh or Costco. If grocery shopping were a science, my family would have it down pat.

So, coming here as a grocery store aficionado, I felt pretty confident with my grocery shopping ability. Okay, minus the fact that all the food products (AND THEIR COOKING INSTRUCTIONS) are in another language. And minus the fact that they have a produce section here the size of a postage stamp. And minus the fact that they only carry a very small selection of food in their stores. And minus the fact that you can only buy food at the grocery, nothing else, like toiletries, school supplies, or medicine. Buuut aside from all these differences I felt pretty comfortable at the grocery store. Ash and I go about once a week and load up for the week. It wasn’t until the other day that I realized that there was something weird going on.

As I looked in other people’s baskets (no one uses the carts here) they only had a few items in their baskets. Five maximum. In line to check out, Ash and I would unload our twenty plus items onto the conveyer belt, and the people behind us (holding their one baguette and small chunk of cheese) would groan at the idea of having to wait for us to check our MANY items out. Don’t you people eat? More than one small baguette of bread and small chunk of cheese a day?? Even the mothers that have to cook for their entire families don’t buy more than two or three things at a time. In our household (granted we always cook a meal so there is enough juuust in case the fifth army stops by) that would never fly. Even though we usually go to the store twice a day, we still somehow end up coming out with bags full of things to stock the pantry. In my opinion, going to the store two, three times a day, just to buy a small loaf of bread each time is a waste of time and energy. Silly Europeans…or maybe that’s why they are all so dang skinny.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blog 27: long lost love

Also, just a quick note to say...

I really, really, really, really, really miss Qdoba. hahahahah I'm so super serious. I'm craving Qdoba and nowhere here compares.

You'll know where to find me the moment I get back on US soil.
love love love from (a Qdoba-less) Prague.

Blog 26: Thank goodness for the linga franca....

“Prosem, quelle heure est-il? Son las dos? Already? Gosh, it’s late. Danke schön."


This very well may have been a conversation I had last night. Let me break it down for you:

Prosem- Czech for “please” but is also used as “excuse me” or to get one’s attention.

Quelle heure est-il- French for “what time is it”

Son las dos- Spanish for “it’s two”

Already? Gosh, it’s late- if you don’t know what this one means, I cant help you…

Danke schön- German for thank you.

As I stood in a small circle last night chatting with a German girl, a French boy, and a Brazilian boy this is close to the conversation we had. Luckily, we all spoke English (the linga franca). (Sidenote: I prided myself on having the best English, no it’s not my native tongue or anything…yes, I take my small victories where I can get them.)

I have a love for foreign languages, which has only been intensified by coming here. The bits and pieces of languages that I do know have come out more than ever and I’m thirsty to learn more. In elementary school I took some French classes, in middle and high school I took Spanish classes, in college I took Italian classes, and here I am learning Czech. This yielded to be quite helpful when surrounded by my new friends. My German friend spoke German, English, and Dutch. My French friend spoke French, English, and Spanish. My Brazilian friend spoke Spanish and English. Yet somehow we all wound up in Prague. As we pieced together conversations in languages not our own, it was quite an experience. I was speaking French to the German and the Brazilian, while speaking Spanish to the Frenchman, and teaching them all a little bit of Czech, while learning some German. It was maybe one of the most amazing conversations I have ever had.

But isn’t that what being here is all about? Isn’t that why I picked up and moved half way around the world? To meet other kids like myself from all over the world who had the same thoughts. It has been quite an experience thus far, and I look forward to what’s to come! Unfortunately, all the kids I met last night were just traveling through Prague and are not here to stay. But now we have some friends in all corners of Europe and invitations to visit them whenever we please!

On a similar note, I know that I am a nosy person by nature. I am very curious as to what is going on around me, be it people or things in my surroundings. I am always curious as to how they got to where I encounter them, where they came from, where are they going, etc? This puts me in quite a predicament when I see two characters enter the metro car I am on, frantically discussing something I’m sure I would be very interested in, but I can’t understand them! Rude! Either I need to learn to be fluent in Czech quickly, or everyone needs to start gossiping in English.

I never realized how often I listen to people around me. It never struck me until I got here, so curious as to what was going on around me, but unable to know. It’s like everyone is talking in a secret language so I won’t be able to understand them. On the plus side, I do have a very active imagination and oh, the situations I imagine these people to be in! It’s better than daytime television. Let’s hope that curiosity won’t kill the cat...

My friend Nicole was only here for the month of July, and has since returned to California. She confided in our friend Carrie that it was actually quite overwhelming being home where everyone speaks English. After being unable to understand anyone, to be able to understand everyone is quite a change. I liken it to the scene in What Women Want where Mel Gibson can suddenly understand every woman’s thoughts and is overwhelmed when a cacophony of voices fills his head. I am curious to see what it will be like when I am suddenly immersed in this again. Maybe it will make me a less nosy person and I’ll learn to mind my own business… or maybe it will be great :)

Love love love from Prague!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blog 25: August Birthdays :)


Happy birthday!!

(Belated) to Allison Rusie (twenty three!!)
and yesterday to Jamie Porcelius (twenty two)
and today Allyson West (twenty threeee)

love you all so much and i wish i was there to celebrate with you!!

have the most wonderful birthdays ever :)


love love love from Prague!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog 24: Where is everyone?

Seeing as Prague is the biggest city in the Czech Republic with a population well over a million people, you would expect the city streets to be crowed as you step out onto them. But you would be wrong. I guess I was surprised with the lack of foot traffic on the streets. At any given time during the day on any street in Prague it is not uncommon to be alone on the street with 6-10 other people.

I know that Prague isn’t a “big” city, nowhere near New York and their population of over eight million. However, it is a huge tourist attraction, and I know people come from all over the world to see Prague. I expected the streets to be a little more crowded when you stepped out onto them. The only time I have really experienced this is on a nice Saturday morning when everyone is downtown. No one goes out in the late afternoon/early evening, and it’s not uncommon to be alone on the streets. Very peculiar.

Buuuut the one place you can count on being crowded? The tiny metro cabin that should hold 20-30 people and there are about 100 in there. Especially during “rush hour”. Do not even try and get a seat at this time, its best just to cram in and not get in the way of the doors. While we are on the topic of cramming in the metro,

Dear Czech Republic,
I guess we are just taught differently in America, but maybe this is something your fourth grade teacher forgot to mention, so let me fill you in. Deodorant is NOT optional. It is something that you MUST wear every day. EACH AND EVERY DAY. The sweat glands under your armpits are bound to activate and produce sweat (and odor) and that’s fine. It happens to everyone. However, by wearing deodorant, you can combat the sweat and you will not have body odor. Therefore, everyone especially those in tight quarters with me, you should wear deodorant. All the time. I know it is difficult to find in the store (it really is, what’s up with this culture?) but it IS there, I have found it, and I will even buy it for you if you promise to wear it every day.
Please take this into consideration; I can’t stand the BO for much longer.
Seriously,
Allie

Love love love from Prague!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blog 23: Who built the Berlin Wall?

As our time with Jay and JD was nearing an end (they have to go back and finish law school hahah), they convinced us to prolong our time together and take an impromptu trip with them to Berlin. They were headed there on their way out (Berlin, then Switzerland, then home) and decided we should join them. Seeing as it was only a 4 hour train trip (and Ash and I have absolutely nothing else to do since we don’t start working until September…) we decided to go!

We woke up Thursday and booked it to the train station. After a slow moving morning (thanks to JD…) we got to the train station just in time. We were so lucky that there was not a line to buy tickets; otherwise we may have missed our train! So we sped through the line, got our tickets, and LITERALLY ran to make our train, suitcases behind us and all (sidenote: why do all of my “adventures” here include me running?!)

We make it on time and jump onto the train just moments before it pulls away. However, due to our late arrival, there were not four seats together, of course. I don’t think there were even four seats available. So what did we do? Parked it on the floor of the luggage room. Yes, we sat on the FLOOR with all the bicycles and luggage. Hahahahhaa. Luckily, after a few stops, the train emptied out and we were not only able to find seats, but we had an entire compartment to ourselves, and it was air-conditioned!! (because let me tell you, the luggage room was definitely NOT air-conditioned). Lucky us! We enjoyed the rest of our travels to Germany in utmost comfort. (It was at this point that Ash and I decided to call our parents and tell them that we had left the country…) Once we got there, we looked for a hostel and found one that was recommended by the guide book as being safe and in a good location.

We tried to get a four person room, but seeing as we were late in the game, they were all taken. So we had to settle for a six person room and share with two randos. We were less than thrilled about this idea. As we trek our suitcases up to our room, we unlock to door to find this room to already be occupied by six people…awkward. As we turn to go back down to the lobby the receptionist comes running up the stairs exclaiming that that room was already full, umm I think we got that, thanks. So as the sincerely apologized, she set us up in a six person room for just the four of us! Score!

Although our hostel was lovely (as much as a hostel can be I suppose…) I don’t think the hostel life is for me. I’d much rather stay in a nice penthouse suite :) So we spent the rest of the night exploring Berlin and its nightlife. Boy did we meet some characters.

The next morning we got up and at them and decided to head out and see the sights of Berlin. Because we were really tired ((ahem, hungover)) and couldn’t see ourselves walking around the largest city in Germany, we opted to take the tourist way out and pay to ride a double-decker tour bus. How cliché. But it ended up working out very nicely, our tour guide (of what we could understand) was very nice, and it was a thorough tour. There are a lot of historical sites to see in Berlin, and Im glad we had the opportunity to see them. As it turns out, Berlin is so spread out that it would have been nearly impossible to walk and see all the sights, so the bus was the better choice anyways!

Overall we had a great time, it was fun to just say “I think id like to go to Germany today” and hop on a train and go with no hesitation. Berlin was fine, not the most beautiful city I have seen by far (I know, I know, I live in Prague, so little lives up…), but Germany was nice. The people speak English much better than the Czechs do, and they were MUCH friendlier!

As we parted ways with Jay and JD (our little group was named the Prague Frogs, don’t ask. And yes, you can judge) we said it wasn’t goodbye; it was simply see you later. Good luck with your second year of law school guys!

P.S. it was extremely interesting to hear how the German tour guide explained (aka glossed over) some of their history. Example, "Here is a governmental building where Hitler held most of his meetings while he was in power. Oh, look! Next door is the chocolate shop that makes the best chocolate in Germany..." and others like "Here is an old housing district, um, i think a lot of people lived here, um, like the Jews. Okay, moving on, look how pretty these flowers are!"

After those explanations Ash and I thought it would be incredibly interesting to take a history class from the German's perspective!

Love love love from Prague!!

Blog 22: All we are saying, is give peace a chance

Sorryyyy for the lack of blogs as of late, after a quick stint of homesickness I am back on my feet and ready for more adventures!! (thanks to my mom & dad and Whitney & Jordan for helping me get through it!!!)

In the late eighties, the (now) Czech Republic was still under Communist Regime. There was a large group of kids who fought against the regime in many ways. One way was by letting out their frustrations via graffiti. This was no ordinary graffiti though, on a wall underneath the Charles Bridge, these kids idealized their dreams of peace and equality by quoting Beatles songs and tagging Lennon-inspired drawings. This wall is now known as the Lennon Wall.


Authorities tried to fight these young Czechs by repainting over the wall once, but within two days it was completely full again. As it stands now, it can never be repainted again, and Prague holds it as a piece of their history. You are allowed to add to it as you please.

Since we had some visitors in town (Ash’s friends Jay and JD) we decided to take them to see the monument. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We added our “peace” and made a day of it by showing them all around downtown Prague. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we had a blast. As our friends Eliza and Krysten paddle boated along the river below us, we captured the day from above on the Charles Bridge. What a great day to be a tourist in our own city!!

Love love love from Prague!