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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My 5 Top Fives...I've been tagged by Allison

On my desk:

1. Pictures framed of my whole family that my mom put together for me
2. Cola Light (Europe's Diet Coke - different, but tasty)
3. Antique miniature bowl (bought at Greece flea market) holding my jewelry
4. Watercolor pallet - actually used pretty often in Prague
5. Kingston USB Data Traveler - how did we do it without these things?

In my closet:

1. Vagabond boots (to get my european look on)
2. All my jeans that have been through so much here
3. kstate hoodie sweatshirt
4. black fleece pants - so comfortable
5. empty boxes of past packages

On the wall:

1. My attempts at watercoloring
2. Pictures of friends back home
3. My handmade calendar drawn on graph paper- the only calendar I've used the whole time here
4. My schedule of classes that have all been completed except for one
5. Random drawings from studio hanging haphazardly

In my purse:

1. My Canon Powershot A80
2. Chapstick
3. Wallet w/ metro pass (too important to leave out)
4. Prague guide - just in case
5. gum

I miss at home:

1. The family of course
2. TV - not gonna lie
3. Baking - chocolate chip cookies especially
4. the sun and warm weather!
5. all the friends (and aggieville)

*I left out the 'why I love Prague list' for a reason.. you'll be seeing a list later

I tag Mandy Sullivan and Iain... I don't know if Iain knows this blog exists, so I'll have to tell him

Monday, May 29, 2006

Farewell boat party, Cesky Krumlov, and more pragueing

Well, last Wednesday we had our farewell boat party - pirate style. It was a lot of fun. All 200 of us dressed as pirates met in the lobby of the dorm at 6:30, then walked through Prague and onto the metro. We got some interesting looks as we rowdily made our way through the city and to the river where a boat with balloons was awaiting us. Some people got really dressed up, some didn't at all, and some tried to be creative with the "pirate theme". There was a "cyber pirate" (aka a hacker that messes up all of our computers) and he just put a computer mouse on a string and wore it around his neck. There was also a peter pan and some turkish guys dressed up as the mafia. Anyhow, it was a very fun night and gave us a chance to take some pictures with friends we have met over the semester. We danced and partied for about 4 hours while the boat cruised up and down the Vltava River. The party continued after the boat docked - there was indeed streaking across the Charle's bridge going on.. I was not apart of that - haha...although it would have been fun to say I did that.. I think only one brave k-stater accomplished the feat.

On Friday, Luke, Laura, Carl and I all took a short trip to Cesky Krumlov. It's a very small town in the Czech Republic in southern Bohemia. It is one of the places that people are told to go when they come to Prague. It's a very small town and an uncomfortable 3.5 hour bus ride to get there, but it was well worth it. We nearly missed our bus to the town, too, because of the lady who sold the bus tickets to us. Luke and I had gone and picked up the tickets earlier in the week. There are two main bus stations. When we bought the ticket I asked the lady if we left from this stop or the other stop which is at another metro station. She pointed out to the buses there and told us it was at platform 2. So....we show up at that station and go to platform 2. We started looking at the signs at the stop and not seeing anything about Cesky Krumlov, so I walk over to this information booth and after a few tries the man understands what I'm asking and looks at the ticket and confirms that we are supposed to be at the other metro stop. So we basically ran to the metro and caught one right as it arrived. Luckily, we made it to the other station in time, but it was a little stressful.

Anyhow, the city is very beautiful. It's main attraction is the castle that overlooks the city. The castle - and the city - are very unique because of the way the buildings are painted. The castle is very ornate the way they painted it to look as though there are individual stones that make up the building. It also gives it a very colorful and playful look. The castle also had a bear pit.. instead of a moat, there was a pit that a bridge went over that had 2 bears in it. They were very cute bears. We stayed at a cozy little hostel call the Krumlov house. They gave us a map with some highlated places to go - restaurants, bars, and sites. The whole first evening we were there it rained and wasn't too fun to walk around in, so we ended up going on a miniature pub crawl around Cesky Krumlov to the 6 pubs they have pointed out on the map. They had some interesting places - one was called the Horror Bar - and had skeletons and creepy, halloween looking decorations. The two girl bartenders were very goth looking - which we thought was an interesting type of bar to have in such a small town. The town reminded me a lot of a mountain town in Colorado - the atmosphere was about the same it seemed. There was rafting on the Vltava River that winds around the city. Unfortunately, it wasn't sunny and not very warm so the river didn't look too appealing. There is also horse back riding, but because of some kind of car rally thing we were unable to do that too, so that was a bit unfortunate. We decided to go to the torture museum. They also have this museum in Prague, that we see often, but have yet to go in. I was pretty impressed with the torture museum, because it really creeped us out. We were the only ones in there the whole time and we were going around in this cave area that was very dark with pieces of torture equipment and fake people (that sometimes looked like they could have been real and about to jump out and grab us). They had all these examples of the way people were tortured way back in the day. So, an interesting museum to say the least. We visited the castle gardens - which was pretty large and very beautifully done. We also went to a photography and art exhibit with some interesting work by czech photographer, Jan Saudek. They also had some unique souvenirs in the town that we have not seen in Prague, so we all did a little souvenir shopping.
So, we spent one night there and headed back to Prague the next afternoon - it was a nice break from the big city.

(a courtyard of the castle - all those "stones" are just painted on)

We are starting to realize how much little time we have left - some less than others. Of course, I have my whole project still to finish for studio, but that pretty much all of school I have left. So, Luke and I did some wandering around today in Prague. He had gotten up early and done some on his own, but then we decided we'd go to the park I had run to a little while ago and then make our way to the castle area, then hopefully find this hidden tunnel I've been wanting to find very badly! So we went around and took some pictures of Prague. Unfortunately, the sky was overcast once again, so the pictures weren't as great as they could be with a blue sky. We went to the park area, some gardens in the park which lead to the castle. Then we headed down this pathway/trail that goes around the side of the hill that the tunnel is on. We see it when we ride the tram, but had yet to do it and I always wondered if this tunnel was somewhere back there. So we hiked around and decided to go down this one path. We walked down it a ways and I recognized the entrance of the tunnel. I have a picture of it in a little pocket architecture/prague book. This was an exciting moment. The tunnel is an odd oval/egg shape that makes it very unique and it is made of brick. It has lights along one side of the tunnel. I'm not sure what the purpose of the tunnel is, other than connecting the two sides of this long pathway that continues on in this forested area.

(we thought the picture looked cool ... I know, I look kind of like an idiot)

(this garden area was so 'senior picture perfect' so I had to take a senior picture.)

Well, that's about it for now. I will be working very hard this week on getting some studio stuff done and over with! I also plan on doing some more exploring of Prague (what I just decided I want to call Pragueing) - although it is supposed to be rainy (go figure) the next two days. This city is so beautiful and I'm going to miss it a lot when I leave it!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Photography class

Here are the photos used in my final presentation for photography class.

It's 12:45 and I have already accomplished a lot today! I'm proud of myself. I went to 2 classes so far today, turned in my stuff, and got my grades! And I got A's in both... so far I am passing the semester. I have also finished 2 other classes. This morning, Luke and I went to get bus tickets for a short trip to a town in the Czech Republic, called Cesky Krumlov. It's supposed to be a very pretty and neat town, so I am looking forward to that - I've been meaning to do more traveling within the Czech Republic. There are still some other places I would like to go, but I'm not sure time will allow that. Luke, Laura, Carl and I will all be going next Friday, spending one night and coming back on Saturday.

I have also been trying to work out my trip with my brothers when they come over to Europe. They are flying into Amsterdam on June 12. I'm going to meet them there on June 13, because my final studio project is due June 12. Yesterday, I booked my flight and booked a hostel in Amsterdam. We will also be going to Brussels, Belgium and Germany - but we're not quite sure where in Germany just yet. I booked the Brussels hostel earlier in the week, so just Germany left!

Well, this last week was so rainy and a little depressing outside. Yesterday was nicer and today is really nice outside. Yesterday I went on a long run and discovered this huge, awesome park. I've seen it on maps, but have never been and didn't really realize it was close enough that I could run to it. It's a very large park with some beautiful views of Prague at certain spots. When we ride a certain tram in Prague, we go right by it, but we can't see the whole park from the tram, so I really had no idea what was back there. I plan on going back with the nice weather - hopefully it will stay nice for the whole week (but that's kind of doubtful).

On Wednesday we have a big party with ISC (the international student club). It's on a boat and it has a pirate theme. It's kind of a big, going away party for all the international students before we all start leaving to go home. It's pretty sad that the end is creeping up on us - it seems like I'm starting to get into the swing of things and feeling comfortable here and then it's going to end. Also, the weather is nicer now so there's more we want to fit in now that it's nice, but that's going to be difficult. Well, I'm not ready to say goodbye to this place, but I am starting to miss home, so I will be ready by the time it comes to get home and relax for the rest of the summer.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I miss you and thanks for being a great mom even though I'm thousands of miles away!

And Happy Mother's Day to all the other moms, as well!

Weekend visitors

Well, this weekend we had some visitors that have now finished up their semester abroad in Italy - as well as a visitor that is currently studying in Germany. The Italy kids are traveling around and stopped in Prague this weekend. So, we have been doing a little bit more than our average Prague weekend.... we've been going out to eat, out at night, and have seen some more sights.

It is also marathon weekend here in Prague. The Prague marathon took place today and I totally should have trained for it, but I didn't... Anyhow we went to Old Town Square this afternoon and saw many of the runners finishing their 26 miles. It was pretty fun to see because you know they have been training and looking forward to that moment. We saw a lot of little kids run out to finish the race with or be carried by their mom or dad as they crossed the line. So there was all kinds of action going on in the middle of the city. We made our way to the Old Jewish Town in Prague. I've been looking forward to going to the Jewish Cemetery. We bought a pass that let us into most of the Synagogues as well as the Jewish Cemetery. It was very interesting to read about what the Jewish ghetto had been like and what had happened to it around the war.

The bar we went to on Saturday night... Dog's Bollocks

Everyone being weird ... making faces - we like to do that

Paige (visiting from Germany) and Teefy drinking his liter beer at The Goat

An interesting statue in Prague

Old Jewish Cemetery...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

a quick sum up

So, I'm really bad at recounting trips on here.. it's just not easy. I will try to sum it up, though. We headed to Florence from Rome. We stayed one night there, then went to visit our friends in Castiglion for a night and then we headed back to Florence. We had a great time seeing all our friends in Castiglion. It's kind of weird to have a semester away from everyone. They had just finished up their final project that day, so they were ready to relax and have some fun. We spent most of the afternoon chatting and hanging out in a quiet, grassy area - and drinking some wine too. We then had dinner with them at their study center. After that everyone basically hung out in the dining area until we headed out to a bar/pizza place for the rest of the night. It was a really good time and I'm glad I got to see where they all spent their semester. Now, they're completely done with their semester and either going back home or traveling around. It sounds a little bit crazy to me, since I still have a little ways to go before I'm finished with the semester, but it's creeping up quickly.

The next day we headed back to Florence and spent more time there. It's a fabulous city and I would have loved to stay there longer. We also took another trip from Florence to Pisa. We went to the Boboli Gardens in Florence for the first part of the day, then went to Pisa. The gardens were huge and very beautiful. We spent a lot of time in there checking out the beautiful views it offered. We knew basically all we wanted to see in Pisa was the leaning tower, so we went for the afternoon/evening. It was fun being there and making our corny pictures - as well as making fun of other people taking corny pictures. It was a nice, relaxing part of the trip.

We went back to Florence for the night and left for Venice the next morning. We spent two nights in Venice. The atmosphere in Venice is a lot different than the other cities we went to. There aren't too many big sights to see and the big ones are all pretty much in the same area. They had a lot of unique shops and we had fun looking at those. They have tons and tons of stores full of really unique and extravagant masks. Some of them were pretty incredible. There were also so many stores selling glass.. the famous ventian glass. So, these stores were pretty entertaining and it's easy to spend a lot of time browsing. Some of the glass was incredible and I wish I could have bought some to take home, but getting that stuff around would be impossible.
Venice is also really expensive. Our hotel/hostel was actually outside of the islands of venice. It was a quick train ride into town, so it wasn't a big deal. We looked at the menus of some of the restaurants and some were so expensive I couldn't believe it!

By the end of Venice we were pretty "touristed" out and tired. We went to one of the islands that basically just has a church on it and when we got there the church was closed for an hour, so we just sat down by the water for an hour, soaking up the sun. It felt awesome and was very relaxing.
After Venice we headed back to Rome for one more night because we had to fly out the next day. We had a nice, big Italian meal since it was our last one!

So that sums it up rather quickly. There are so many little stories to tell that I can't even begin!

The few days I have been back in Prague I have been trying to buckle down and get a lot of work done. Some deadlines are coming up, so it's keeping me busy. This weekend some of the students studying in Italy (they were in the town we didn't get to visit) are coming to Prague. They're the first of a few groups that will be coming through here as they travel around Europe before they go back to the states!

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'll start with Rome

It's been awhile! I just got back from a 10 day excursion to Italy! Wow - that was quite a trip. I think it was the first time I have traveled for a continuous 10 days and it is a bit tiring, so now I'm back in Prague and ready for some down time...but we'll see how this down time goes. There's so much to do here that it is hard for me to take it easy for too long!

We flew from Prague to Rome on Thursday, the 27th. Throughout the trip we made our way from Rome to Florence - took a trip to Castiglion Florentino to visit our friends studying in this hill town outside of Florence - took a little trip to Pisa - then went from Florence to Venice and Venice back to Rome - and we got back to Prague last night at about 11:30 after our flight was delayed for a little over an hour. Four of us went - Laura and I and two of our friends that are studying here with us from K-state - Chris and Carl. We had a great time.

There have been a lot of holidays here in Prague over the last week so we didn't really miss too much school... so that is always good. We basically did all the major tourist sighseeing in all the cities, but I'll give a review. Of course, now it is high season in Italy, so there were all kinds of tourists all over the place.

When we arrived in Rome, it took a little while to find the hostel and carting our backpacks around on our backs is quite tiring, so we took it easy and found a restaurant nearby our hostel. Our hostel was in a good location - really close to the train station, so that was nice. We stayed at Yellow Hostel - it is a pretty good size hostel. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a hostel in Rome - it was very clean and had a good free breakfast in the restaurant next to it. So we headed to a restaurant for our very first real Italian meal - I got quite excited that I was having Italian food in Italy!

The next morning we woke up really early to go to the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. We walked around the area and ended up going into St. Peter's by the time we got out of there the line for the Vatican was huge, so we passed that up and saved it for the next day. St. Peter's was amazing. It is just huge and so beautiful! Since we got there so early it was really nice in there and not crowded with people yet. There was mass going on in all these different areas of the church in all different languages. I walked past one and realized it was in English, so Laura and I stopped for mass there- that was pretty cool. With the morning sun rising, rays of light were shooting in through the front of the church and it was quite a scene. We headed up to the dome of St. Peter's and got a good look at the vatican and all of Vatican City. After all of this we grabbed some breakfast and headed to some more sites. We went to the Pantheon, which is an amazing building that we learned so much about in our history of architecture classes we took in our first couple years at kstate. Being in Italy was amazing for us because we had heard so much about all of it. We had seen everything on slides in class, but never quite imagined being at these places.. so the feeling was a bit surreal! The Pantheon has a circular sky light at the top of the dome and this is the only light coming in besides the doorway so when it is sunny out, there is an amazing ray of light that comes through. We also saw the Trevi Fountain. We went through the Piazza Navona that has another famous fountain in it - Fountain of the Four Rivers. We got a little lost on the way to the Spanish Steps and ended up in a huge plaza, but we had no idea what it was. We ended up finding it is called the Quarinale, but it wasn't too impressive and it appeared to us that it was a haven of lost tourists. Well, we realized we were headed in the completely wrong direction and made our way to the Spanish Steps. By this time we were getting pretty exhausted, so we relaxed there for a little while - walked around there some more and decided we would take the metro back to the hostel to rest. Well, when we found a metro stop we went down and it took us on this winding path through these tunnels and we ended up coming out of the tunnel without ever finding the metro. So we sat for awhile a bit confused, then decided to head back in for another look and we saw the metro area, but it was blocked off by a gate! It was 3:30 in the afternoon! A man walked by and said it didn't open until 5:00. So Laura and I grabbed some gelato - our first of the trip - but definitely not the last of the trip! Gelato is one of the best things ever - it's ice cream but so much better and they serve it EVERYWHERE in Italy - basically every corner will have a gelato store. Well we finally walked our way back to the hostel. (It turns out there was a strike by the transportation workers going on that day - or something like that - still not quite sure) We took a nice, long nap and then headed out for some dinner. This night took us to a rather disappointing restaurant...the food was just a little bit interesting. We got over it though.

Saturday was another early morning, but not quite as early because we wanted to get our free breakfast from the hostel. So we had our breakfast and headed to the Vatican. We waited in line for about 2 hours. There were so many people in line! The line moved pretty fast, but it still took about 2 hours. Inside the Vatican there was just like a herd of people moving through. It was really amazing, though. The paintings on the walls in all the rooms were incredible and they were painted by incredible people. It was a maze to the sistine chapel. The whole time we were following this sign with an arrow that said "sistine chapel", but it kept taking us through all these other rooms, but finally we got there and it was awesome. My neck started hurting from staring straight up for so long, but it was very cool. After the Vatican we headed to the Colloseum area. This area has a lot to see. The Capitol is around here, a massive building called the Victor Emmanuel II Memorial where the Tomb of the Uknown Soldier is, the Roman Forum (a huge area full of ruins), the Arch of Constantine, and the Colloseum. I'm sure I'm missing many things in there, but those are most of the big ones. So we walked through this huge area wishing we had our history teacher with us to remind us of everything he had told us before.
We didn't do a whole lot the rest of the day, but it had definetely been a full day by then. It is hard to squeeze Rome in to 2 days and there is still plenty we didn't get the chance to see.

So Sunday we headed to Florence and Florence was definitely my favorite. I'll get back to that though in a bit!

Some pics.. but I've posted all my pics on my Flickr page

First Italian meal

Inside the Pantheon

Vatican City

St. Peter's Basilica