Dobrey Den!

It’s officially been two weeks since I’ve been in Prague and I definitely don’t feel like a native but I am slightly shedding my tourist skin. I keep finding differences between Europe and America and it’s really fun to point out, such as there are no free refills. Everything comes in a can or from tap so there’s no need for a refill, just have to buy another drink. Also carbonated water is the norm, you have to specifically ask for still water, or as a waiter once put it “gas or no gas?” With the lack of need for refills, waiters don’t hover you like in American restaurants. It’s actually kind of nice. You’re not trying to hunt down the waiter because your beverage is running low and you enjoy the meal more. I suppose this is why you don’t tip too much at waiters anyway.

I’m officially had my fill of Czech food, which can be summarized as meat and potatoes, and am trying out other takes of cuisine. Such as the Chinese or Italian food in Prague. It’s basically the same, just small differences that make you wonder is it because I’m in Europe? Or is it Americanized food I’ve been eating this whole time?

The night life is relaxed but exciting, it’s mostly going out to a pub or a club and spending the night with friends drinking. Prague is ridiculously safe. You don’t believe until you’re walking back from a night out to your hotel and you barely see a single soul out. Could be though that people just check in early. Speaking of that, I suppose since I’ve been on a college campus for the past two years I’m used to everything being open 24 hours or the crack of dawn, but nothing stays open really late here. Most places are closed by 7 or 8 PM, only the tourist places stay open past that.

Also, the sun sets ridiculously late here, like around 10 PM. It’s amazing.
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10 Things I’ve Seen Around Prague

  1. Dogs. Dogs are everywhere. They are inside the underground metro, roaming busy streets, wandering in green spaces and marking their territory wherever they go. Most of the dogs have owners, very few strays, and the owners just don’t put leashes on because why do they have to? The dogs just follow without command.
  2. Statues. There are statues everywhere in the Old City part of Prague. Mostly on buildings and decorations for windows and doorways but there’s just so many of them! At least one on almost every building.
  3. No Smiles. Apparently the way to tell the difference between tourist and locals is that the locals never smile, never, and it’s true. Every time I’ve entered a store, even if person inside greets you, it almost never comes with a smile. It’s kinda strange in the way that I always smile and I feel that my tourist-y-ness is showing. I’m trying to perfect my blank, mean face.
  4. Lack of Sun. It could just be a cold front but for the first week here it was windy and cold and the sun disappeared into heavens. It doesn’t even really feel like Summer or Spring here, more like a early Fall.
  5. Cobblestones. I’ve mentioned this before but it’s just that… even the roads are cobblestones! I don’t think I’ve seen flat asphalt anywhere.
  6. Coffee. There are coffee shops littered around the city and it’s completely exciting because of all the choices. Also coffee in general is a little bit stronger here but so, so good.
  7. Small Cars. I finally realized that cars actually don’t really have trunks here, they’re either hatchback or just extra space in the backseat. More room to parallel park everywhere (and they park all over the place, especially on sidewalks, it’s a thing!)
  8. Trees. In the city it’s pretty hard to find giant clusters of trees but once you start radiating out, there are green spaces everywhere. Trees, bushes, patches of grass. Even still in the busy parts of the city there are plotted plants all over the sidewalk and in window sills.
  9. Graffiti. It’s not even really cool graffiti, it just seems that people have to tag EVERYTHING. It’s sad because all the old architecture in the city is defaced with just really boring names spray painted outside.
  10. Pigeons. Those pesky birds are everywhere and they aren’t scared of anything. I would almost say they’re the deer equivalent of pest in North Carolina.

Arrival, Cobblestones and finally Beer

It’s finally day 3 of being in Prague and I must say, it was nothing really how I expected it to be (mostly because I didn’t know what to expect). Arrival was coupled with jet lag as I finally stepped foot in the hostel I will be staying at for the next three weeks. When I crossed the ocean, the time zone changed and I basically ended up skipping a whole night of sleep, which is not fun. It seemed okay at first but running on one hour of sleep in a new city is tiring. I didn’t want jet lag to get the best of me though so I didn’t nap or sleep and decided to just sleep at night (it worked by the way!). The first day was spent exploring the area near the hostel but when I came back to my room, I dumbly realized my luggage was damaged.

So began the adventure of finding the airport again. At first it was easy, and free, as I have a pass that allows me on all public transportation in Prague, and then I had to find a bus stop and the trouble started. I was with a friend and we wandered for almost two hours and finally realized her phone had an app that would give us directions to the bus stop. That was a life savor. The map for where bus stops are was literally the hardest map I ever read. I didn’t even understand where I was half the time.

Filing a report for luggage damage is tiring, and really annoying when you realize you should have found the damage before you left not after. But after the whole incident it was a quick, cheap dinner and then back to the hostel for SLEEP!

The second day was orientation so a lot of information was being doled out to us, but all very helpful, so time flew. The school I’m attending, Prague Institute, for my class (I’m taking Watercolor Studio) in the middle of Old City, Prague and it’s gorgeous everywhere. The Institute itself is in a building from the 1300s, so it’s painted creamy yellow with winding staircases and iron gates and balconies everywhere! Lunch was good, picture below, but we realized it was expensive in terms of how much lunch should normally be.

The thing about the currency in Czech, which are Crowns, is they don’t have change and it basically runs by hundreds. So it feels like putting 200 Crowns to lunch is expensive, but in USD it’s just 10 bucks! But lunch in Prague normally hovers around 100 Crowns easily, with a meal and beer, so the tourist traps definitely overcharge. My first mistake was paying 235 crowns for lunch, I thought it was an okay price but it turns out to be expensive! Never again. Dinner was only 205 Crowns, which is definitely more reasonable for dinner.

For dinner, by the way, I finally tried Czech beer. It’s the pride of Czech people and for good reason because it’s really delicious. I had a Pilsner Urquell, which is like THE Czech beer, it was made in 1800 something by some Czech guy who came up with a new technique to make better beer. I’m not a beer freak so I can tell you is it was light and so full of flavor, it still sat on your tongue after your first sip. Definitely not watered down Bud Light or something!

Most of my time in Prague has been walking around, those cobblestones are KILLER on your feet, and figuring out the Metro system (They also have buses and trams as part of public transportation, all the choices!). It’s a lot of fun.

Czech, as the language, is crazy hard to pronounce. It’s a Slavic language, so similar to Russian or Polish, and it has a lack of vowels that makes my brain confused when I try to pronounce it. Also, the language itself is difficult to learn. Verbs are easy but nouns are their own kind of pain. Verbs are just past, present and future tense but nouns have genders and add to that that sentence order doesn’t matter and it’s a recipe of disaster. So in order to figure out who the subject of the sentence is and who or what is the direct/indirect object, there are modifiers stuck onto the objects and there are many modifiers and many ways to modify different words. All I know is I’m still learning how to properly pronounce Thank You and Good Morning.

Overall, as I am in the middle of Day 3, Prague is amazing. I want to learn the language better so I’m not another typical American tourist and start cooking my own food to save money! The food is so fresh here, it’s amazing. Apples aren’t waxy and pretty and eggs sit around and don’t have to be refrigerated. Also, the beer is cheap and delicious, so that’s fun.

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Ahoj!

Hello Fellow Readers,

Today I am boarding a plane to Europe! I will be in Prague, Czech Republic for six weeks and tour Austria, Italy and France afterwards. I’ll be in Europe for a total of two months.

I decided to use this blog for recording my adventures! I’ll try to post at
least once a week and I will include pictures. I’m super excited for this trip but also nervous, which is to be expected I suppose.

Well, next time I post I’ll be in Europe, so until then!

P.S. I will still post a poem every now and then.