Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From Tourist to Student

We spent both Sunday and Monday on classic Prague tourist adventures! On Sunday we decided to go visit the castle (yes, the one that is conveniently on our way to school). We walked around the different areas for a while. The old gothic church is absolutely gorgeous. The inside has the highest ceilings you could imagine in a building and the most intricate stained glass windows.

We purchased tickets to see their current exhibit called "The Story of the Castle". It included some history about the castle and Czech land in general, but also many relics from the area including clothing, old crowns, etc. We could have spent hours in there, but we eventually left because we were all starving.

Lunch was found at a tiny restaurant off a side street in Mala Strana which is down the hill from the castle. I had my first taste of beef goulash which was quite scrumptious, but very filling!

After lunch we went for a walk on a search for ice cream. We ended up finding a cute park right by the river. We wandered it for a while and then hung out by the river before heading back and getting some ice cream (or zmrzlina as they call it here).

More pictures from the castle day:

Front view of the castle

Inside of the huge Gothic church

Beautiful view from outside the castle

Waterside. I really want to go on one of those paddleboats all those people are riding in the background.

Weird art in the park we found

A picture of a tram..the transportation we use to get most places if we don't want to walk. It is very clean and smooth and comes every 4-5 minutes during the day so we never have to wait long

I'm in Prague!

Monday morning we officially started our classes at Charles University. Mondays and Wednesdays I have Czech Politics class from 9-12 with a Czech Professor. The class seems really interesting covering things from the history of Czech Republic, to Communism, and the current government and politics. Our professor speaks very fluent English and seems to know everything. He lectured for three hours straight without looking at notes once, but it was all very organized and thought out. He prefers having class outside which was obviously fine with us. He took us down by the river and we just sat on benches and took notes it was gorgeous and wonderful.

After that we had our European Integration and Czech Language classes. European Integration is taught by a William and Mary Professor and seems fascinating as well. We are mostly focusing on the history of the European Union, but also on how all of the countries in Europe fit together and their current status in the World. I am not exactly thrilled about doing any sort of work while staying in this beautiful city, but its good impetus to study and learn when the subjects are so interesting.

Monday night we decided to check out Petrin Hill. It's a local park thats a huge hill that provides a great view of the city. However, on our way there we got a bit lost. We got on the normal tram (or so we thought), but realized a few minutes later that we were in the suburbs of the city instead of the center. After correcting our mistake and taking a different tram back into the city we arrived at Petrin Hill. The climb up was brutal and my legs are still sore today, but it was definitely worth it. At the top of the hill they have a miniature replica of the Eiffel tower that I think is about 60 meters high that gets you above the treeline so you can take fantastic pictures of the city (once you climb about a zillion stairs).

After the Eiffel tower we descended the hill (unfortunately on the wrong side) and ended up in the backyard of the Germany Embassy with a security guard glaring at us. Once we relievedly figured out that we were not in trouble and that there was an exit other than climbing back up the huge hill we were overjoyed and began our search for food. We ended up at a restaurant called Bar Bar that was one of my favorites we have eaten at so far. It was slightly touristy, but everyone loved their food.

Views from Petrin Hill:

Eileen and David on the long, torturous climb up the hill

A sneak view of the city through the trees

An example of the many beautiful gardens at the top of Petrin Hill that make it so worth climbing.

I just thought this was cute aha, but there are seriously so many dogs here and not very many of them have leashes which is really interesting. They don't seem to wonder off from their owners though. I think they have some secret training system we do not.

Shot from the bottom of the fake Eiffel tower.

Looking out the Window over the city

I found my dorm amidst all the houses! It's that grey sad looking building in the back next to the green roofed place

Prague..I can't stop looking at these pictures they are all so pretty

The castle

Charles Bridge: the most famous bridge in the city and the only pedestrian bridge. It is adorned with symbolic statues

Another shot of the castle..It's hard to pick what pictures to add out of the millions I have from this look out

Such a big city!

The United States Embassy that we passed on the way to dinner.

The restaurant we ate at. Amusing name and SUCH GOOD FOOD

Today, Tuesday, I only have my European Integration and Czech language classes so I spent the morning doing homework and going on a run through this beautiful part of town. It was gorgeous, but my legs are dying because of all the hills (not going to lie the run turned into more of a walk/jog). Laura and I got lunch at Bohemia Bagel by Old Town square. It was an American tourists dream! They had fountain soda, ice, free refills, and recognizable sandwiches. We happily ate a ridiculous amount of food. After class I just relaxed and did work because I was not feeling that great. But by dinner time I was feeling okay so Maegan and I went to Maly Buddha again. It is quickly turning into my favorite restaurant here.

Well I have to go to bed because I have almost seven hours of class tomorrow. I hope that we go outside again for Czech Politics.


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