Monday, September 28, 2009

blog 40: good king wenceslaus...

thank goodness for St. Wenceslaus, because we had a three day weekend this weekend in his honor! Today is an official Czech holiday, where we celebrate St. Wenceslaus (Same as Good King Wenceslaus.) You are supposed to have a feast in his honor, but we went to Subway and celebrated five dollar foot long subs... is that the same? Anyways, I am more than thankful to Wenceslaus for the three day weekend he gifted us.

We wanted to celebrate this weekend by taking a trip somewhere (ireland, other places in the czech republic, and croatia were all discussed) but after some deliberation we just decided to stay in Prague and celebrate our very own city.

We ended up taking a day trip out to the edge of Prague where the "eiffel tower" is. You may have thought that the eiffel tower was in Paris, but apparently, you would be wrong. This is a big tower (that looks just like the eiffel tower) that overlooks all of Prague. We made the trek out there, and then the trek up the three hundred and twenty stairs to the top. When we got there though, it was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the hike.
(Prague from the top of the "eiffel tower")

You could see all of Prague, red roofs for miles. The river curves its way through the city and and hills overlook it all. We happened to head up there on one of the most beautiful days we have had in a while. It was a great day, with great friends and great sights to see. And now we only have a four day week, hooray!
(Prague from the top of the "eiffel tower")

Love love love from Prague!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blog 39: three's company, too.

We are about to start the fourth week of preschool! I can’t believe three weeks have gone by so quickly. My little students are great; I am so impressed with their ability to speak English and Czech. They learn so much every day; it is amazing to see them grow :)

We took a fieldtrip last week to a “fairytale land” and although I thought it was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, they liked it. Essentially, it was a huge warehouse with small sets built in it with fairytale characters. However, the characters were all really creepy and the stories they chose to display were not your traditional fairytales, or maybe I just don’t think the children need to see Lucifer surrounded by fire and brimstone. Yikes. But they loved it, and all got their faces painted, so it was a successful afternoon.

In other news, our friend Ryan is staying with us for a few days. He completed the TEFL course in August, the month after I did, and is currently looking for a job. He is looking in Russia, and has had several promising video interviews, how’s that for technology? He is crashing with us for a few days until he finds out where he wants to go! Until then, we are playing Three’s Company. I, of course, am Suzanne Somers and Ash gets to be (has to be) Joyce Dewitt, Ryan playing John Ritter. It should be a great time! I’ll keep you updated on all our crazy antics!

love love love from Prague!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blog 38: a visit to the town “doctor”

In order to get your Visa to work in the Czech Republic you have to get a physical and have a doctor-approved clean bill of health. My boss, Marketa, set up the appointment for me and I to head off to the “town doctor” and get my physical. Marketa is not the best with directions (this does not bode well for me…) so she just told me to get off the tram one stop early, and take a bus up the hill. Okay, great.

So I hop off the tram and find the bus no problem. But I have no idea how long I am supposed to be on this bus or where “up the hill” is. So I wait for the bus a good twenty minutes and finally it pulls up. I hop on this RICKETY old bus that probably should have retired to the junk yard in 1962. We start to trek up the hill (and by hill I mean the side of a mountain) and the old bus shakes and moans with every turn. The road is thin and windy and the street is so old and overgrown the cobblestone slowly fades into grass, and the bus just drives right over it. As we wind up the “hill” I keep getting glimpses of the city down below. It is truly breathtaking. The red roofs mixed in with the tops of the green trees paints a beautiful canvas of prague.

Feeling every bump, nook, and cranny in the street below me the bus bounces on. I count as I have been on the bus for five, ten, twelve, thirteen stops, and finally my stop is the fourteenth. I don’t think I have even been on a bus this long before, and most definitely not on the top of a mountain in prague. Isn’t this the local doctor?!

My stop comes and I file off and eventually find the doctor’s office- I only had to stop and ask directions twice, an improvement! The doctor sits me down and asks if im healthy. I answer yes. Do I have any diseases? No. Anything else she should know about? No. Honor system, much? She proceeds to knock on my forehead like it’s the front door and tells me im good to go. She asks that I pee in a cup on my way out. I do so and return it to her. She sticks a piece of paper in it and tells me I thankfully don’t have diabetes… because if I did they would refuse my visa?
To check me out she needs my passport information. I pull out my shiny hot pink j.crew clad passport and she oohs and awws. “It so pretty!” she exclaimed as she looks at it like it’s the crown jewel. It was at this point I literally started laughing out loud at how enamored she was with it, and shoved it back in my bag, embarrassed. She is not helping her case of legitimacy. Im starting to question her diplomas, not that there are any hanging on the wall, but for my own sanity im going to assume they are there. She declares me healthy and sends me on my way, less than two minutes later. It was the best fake doctor appointment I have ever had- but hey, she cleared me for my visa so im not complaining. Let’s just hope I don’t have a real reason to go to the doctor while im here!

Love love love from prague!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blog 37: oh, poor underrated Indiana.

The tram ride home is one of my favorite parts of my day. It is thirty-five minutes of solitude with just me and my iPod after a long day of putting up with twenty one three to five year olds. I can just sit and relax, listen to my music, and watch the beautiful architecture go by. One specific store always catches my eye on the ride home, however. It is a store solely dedicated to signing up people to take tours of America. This intrigued me, seeing as it is not just a tour of one city, yet rather they were advertising a tour of an entire country twice the size of all of Europe. Naturally, I decided to do some investigating. I jotted down the website and looked it up when I got home. Since it was all in Czech, I am still not sure how the system works, but from what I gathered you pick a “region” to tour, and they show you around. These must be some pretty long tours seeing as one of the tour goes to: New York – Washington – Charleston – Savannah – Atlanta – Nashville – Memphis – St.Louis – Chicago – Detroit – Cleveland – Niagarské vodopády – New York (again, all one tour). How long are these tours??

Anyways, for all the states that they do offer tours of (and no, they don’t go to all of them, sorry Delaware) they have a list of the cities they visit and hotels you can stay in. I was pleased to see that they do tour Indianapolis, Indiana (although I think it would be about a twenty minute tour…) but I was very unhappy to see that the ONLY hotel they offer for you to stay in in Indy is the La Quinta Inn. Ew. Needless to say, my family has some pretty entertaining stories about this sketchy hotel chain, but I really don’t want the La Quinta Inn to be people’s only impression of Indianapolis.

I can picture it now, “Oh, this tour was so great! I love seeing NYC, and Chicago was great, oh and remember that crappy La Quinta Inn they stuck us in in Indianapolis, IN? Let’s not go back there again…”

Im sure Indianapolis has much more to offer, and if it is going to be a Midwestern staple, we need to represent Indiana well. Im going to work on having them change it, you know, recommend a better place to stay. Mom and dad, you guys like having house guests right?!

Love love love from Prague!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blog 36: un mil, duizend, tausend, ettusen...

one thousand. in whatever language you say it, we have broken the thousand mark, my lovely little blog followers! my blog has been read over a thousand times since i have been here in prague :) i love that you all stay tuned for my adventures, and i will do my best to keep my life interesting so i have plenty to write about. i dont think that should be too hard, after all, im always getting myself into some kind of trouble...!

more to come soon,

love love love (a thousand times over) from prague!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blog 35: When in doubt, make it up.

So soccer (futbol) is clearly the most important thing to Europeans. And I cant say I disagree, ranking as my favorite sport, I always enjoy watching a good soccer game. The past two world cup tournaments have faithfully been watched by Chris, Ethan and I in our living room on the projector. Life size world cup, what could be better than that? Stocked up with snacks, we set up the living room after dinner and went straight to bed. Why? Well, in America, the live games broadcast around 3:30am. So we would sleep until 3am and get up and watch the games for the rest of the night. When our parents would rise around 7 or 8, they would find us still up, camped out in the living room. Needless to say, im always up for a good soccer game.

So what could be better than to be in Europe not only during soccer season, but the year of the world cup?? (World Cup 2009 takes place in South Africa, and it is 100% my goal to attend…) So the other night the Czech Republic team played Slovakia, a heated match. We went to our local beer garden (the biggest one in our neighborhood) and filed in with the other Czech futbol fans. The garden was overflowing with fans ready to get rowdy and support their team. As a good play was made or a goal was scored, the garden would erupt with cheers. Hugging, glasses clinking, yelling, clapping, and running laps around the tables were common ways of expressing their excitement. This one guy at the next to our table (we referred to him as Kobe, seeing as he was wearing a Kobe Bryant shirt) proceeded to jump on his table and pour his beer on another fan after the CZ scored. Pure madness.

It was quite a sight to see and I loved seeing everyone so happy and excited after a great play was made. Naturally, my friends and I wanted to get in on the excitement. There was a table of around 15 of us, all American. Seeing as how none of us can speak Czech, we couldn’t jump in with the excited yelling, as everyone around us was. So, we decided to yell the Czech words that we did know.

[CZ team make a great play and the crowd gets excited] “Těší mě!!”
(translation: nice to meet you!!)

[CZ team scores a goal and the crowd erupts] We jump up and as we high five we shout “Decet deca šunky !!!!!”
(translation: “[I would like] ten ounces of meat!!!!” )

The funniest part? The Czech people were so excited about the futbol game, they didn’t even find it the slightest bit odd that we were yelling pleasantries and ordering meat. They were loving it and would cheer even louder and high five us when they saw our excitement. I guess the moral of the story is no one really cares what you are yelling about, as long as you are rooting for their team :)

Love love love from Prague!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blog 34: A lovely little preschool with grapes fresh off the vine

Preschool started this week! My new school is absolutely beautiful. It is still under construction, seeing as it was just built. The builders started the indoor renovations the first week of august and promised they would only take a week to complete. It is September 3rd and they are still not done. They have what I like to call “European mentality”. Picture under the Tuscan sun (if you have seen it) where the workers take their own sweet time to complete the project. They will head out for a three hour lunch at the pub and come back drunk only to dawdle the afternoon away. No wonder they aren’t done with the construction yet. (Literally I saw one of the gardeners carry in a pale, and then a case of beer. He filled the pale with cold water from the hose and stocked it with beer and hid it in the shade ((partly to keep it cool, partly so my boss wouldn’t see it and freak out)) at least they are crafty…!) The two days before school started were quite hectic because they were only 1/3 of the way done and we had to move in all of our stuff! We worked for two days straight, thirteen hours each day setting up the school trying to get ready. Oh gracious, that was quite an interesting experience. But nevertheless, school opened on the first of September and it has been great so far! We have twenty students ages 3-5 and they are wonderful. These kids are truly remarkable, they haven’t even started kindergarten yet and they are already bi(some even tri)lingual. Im so very impressed.

But I love the area surrounding my school; it looks like an old Italian village. The villas are rustic and gorgeous, red roofs, cobblestone streets, and grapes growing on the vine as far as the eye can see. They whole area is one big downward sloping hill, and the buildings and villas are tucked neatly into the side. The old architecture shows its personality, the old streets are worn and the buildings sigh when the wind blows through them. As the sun sets on this neighborhood you can see the golden light streaking through the buildings onto the streets, and the whole neighborhood has a golden glow. It’s absolutely lovely.

((Grapes growing in the back garden of the preschool))

In true Allie fashion, my first day involved a small transportation fiasco (what’s new). My director told me the name of the metro stop that was closest to the school, so naturally I assumed that was the best way to get there. She mentioned that the school was a little ways away from the stop, but it was do-able. So I take the thirty minute metro ride (I had to switch lines) to Budejuveska (or something unnecessarily long like that). Upon my arrival there I was instructed to take a bus. Excuse me, what? I don’t even know how to take the bus. I confidently walk over to the bus stop and look as though I belong there. The hobo and the homeless woman also waiting for the bus seemed okay with sharing their stop with me. The bus arrives and we (my new bffs, homeless and hobo) pile on. I ride the bumpy bus over the cobblestone for a good twenty five minutes. I thought this place was close to the metro? When we get off I see hills and villas and a sloping downward hill, but that’s about it. No school. So, as instructed, I head down the hill. TWENTY MINUTES of walking down this (steeeep) downhill, I come to the street I am to turn down. I head down another windy cobblestone road until I see the church that is across from our school. After over an hour of commuting I was finally to my school. I kept repeating to myself that it wasn’t so bad, the exercise was good, and the neighborhood was beautiful, but all I could think of was what this commute was going to be like in the dead of winter, before the sun has even risen. Uggggh.

Optimism in hand, I head into the school. We are waiting for the other teacher, Adrienne. She is coming from the tram stop seven minutes away because she lives closer, dang her. There is a tram stop at the bottom of the hill and that would make my life a MILLION times easier (assuming I knew how to ride the tram, which at this point I didn’t, so that was essentially out of the question anyways). Adrienne arrives and we start setting up the school. In casual conversation she mentions that she was at this restaurant in Flora (where I live) the other day. Our conversation that followed was pretty close to the following:

Me: “Oh, you were in Flora? That’s where I live”

A: “Oh really? Ya I live there too!”

Me: “Wait…what??”

A: (Confused) “I live in Flora, just a few minutes from the metro stop.”

Me: “Are you serious? You live in Flora?? Are you joking?”

A: (really confused) “No, Im not joking. I live in Flora…”

Me: “And you took the metro here?”

A: “Yes”

Me: “From FLORA?”

A: “Ya…”

Me: “But it was like really long, like a couple hours?”

A: “What are you talking about, it was like twenty minutes”

Me: “WHAT?! From FLORA? But that’s where I live!”

A: “Okay, well then you should probably take the tram too… the metro takes way longer”

Me: “This is the best news I have ever heard.”

And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That is, after she realized that I really wasn’t retarded, I was just in shock that my 1.5 hr commute could very, very easily become a twenty five one. Best. News. Ever. She taught me how to use the tram (there was a lot of note taking and ‘wait, can you say that again? No scratch that, spell it’ on my part) and thus I learned how to take the tram and have a much shorter commute to school. And thanks to my new ipod touch brimming with music and tv shows for me to watch, I find myself wishing I had a few more minutes on the tram in the morning to finish the newest episode of gossip girl :)

love love love from Prague!