Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I went to Dresden with ISC March 28 & 29, there were about 15 of us from CTU and about 10 from the School of Economics. We left way too early in the morning on the 28th. The only good thing about it was that we got to ride in a compartment train, which me and Caitie couldn’t help but feel like we were headed to Hogwarts because it was like a Harry Potter train. We arrived in Dresden after a relatively short train ride of about 2 hours. We were given free time to walk around.

My first steps on the cobblestone of Dresden.

Dresden is a fairly small city so it didn’t take us long to see most of it, and it was quite rainy and gross. We ended up at the royal families palace and ran into a ton of Asian tourists. We then entertained ourselves by making fun of them. And taking photos in the same stances they were taking photos in.

These were some old ruins that were being excavated.

Frauenkirche, a really pretty church in the middle of Old town.

After this I think our exhaustion hit us so we wandered around looking for somewhere to get a snack. We ended up finding a tiny little vegetarian restaurant. Even though it was only 11a we all decided to try our first German bier. I had a Hefeweizen, it’s a wheat beer, and it is amazing. I also got a bowl of soup to tide me over before lunch.

We then met back up with our group and headed to eat lunch at one of the university campuses in Dresden. We had a meal of dumplings and meat, not all that different than Czech food really. 

After lunch we went back to the old part of town as a group and met up with some ISC people from Dresden. We split up into groups and did a city tour/scavenger hunt with them. Basically they walked us around the city and we had to guess where to go next, and do different challenges once we got to the different places. For instance we went to the only remaining phone booth in Dresden and had to see how many people we could fit in it, and we ended up getting other people from the street to join us. We only fit about 6 of us in. We also had to answer trivia questions about Dresden, so we started asking random people we saw around town, I’m sure people thought we were insane. One of our other tasks was to join hands and make a ring around a statue in front of a church in the old town. We couldn’t quite get enough people, but we joined forces with another team and made a ring around. 

With our group and our guides, Felix & Sven.

After freshening up and recharging a bit from the scavenger hunt, we headed to the new part of town for dinner at a kebab restaurant. In the States when you say kebab, that means a skewer with different kinds of veggies and meat that is grilled, in Europe when you say kebab, it means something more like a gyro, but equally delicious, just not exactly what all of us Americans were expecting. After dinner we headed to a little place called Magnolia. It was a lounge type cocktail bar with couches and beds all over. They also had shisha, which is what they call hookah in Germany. So we hung out drinking long islands and smoking shisha for a couple of hours, and then the exhaustion set in again so Caitie and I headed back really early.

For lunch the next dat we ate at a German brewery. Caitie, Patricia, and I decided to order a Mass bier, which is a liter of bier. That is insanely huge. And on an empty stomach, it makes you feel really happy! The bier we had was yet another wheat beer, and it was so delicious. 

With my huge bier.

The beef stew/soup we ate for lunch.

After lunch we kind of all split up and did our own thing, but the group of people I ended up in decided to walk around New Town.

This was a little building in a courtyard that had been restored, every hour in the summer they send water down the pipes.

We got soft serve ice cream at this little place by the park and it was so delicious. And then we went to the park and watched theses people walk on make shift tight ropes, it was pretty crazy. 

We thought this guy was going to be good because he was really intense.. He fell off really quick, it was dissapointing.

After walking around all afternoon, it was time to bid our goodbyes to Dresden and the people we had met from their ISC. Everyone from our school headed back towards Prague, but Patricia, Eeva, Disa, and I headed on to Berlin.


We (Caitie, James, Jason, and I) left for Vienna on Tuesday morning around 10:30a by way of Student Agency bus. Student Agency busses are one of the cheapest ways to travel around Europe. We had a 2 hour bus ride to Brno, and had to switch busses in Brno to get to Vienna. From Brno to Vienna we had another 2 and a half hours almost, and drove through Mikulov, which is a really small Czech town that I had visited the first weekend in the Czech Republic. There were also some really beautiful wind farms on the way. Once we arrived in Vienna we bought metro passes, after a little trouble figuring out how to buy them, and made our way to the hostel to check in. By the time we had done all of that it was time for an early dinner because we hadn’t ate all day. We made our way to the city center and started wandering around for something delicious. Jason spotted a steak place, that was obviously very American-ized, but we definitely didn’t care because a steak and baked potato sounded AMAZING. We proceeded to eat there, ordering a French baguette, side salads, and a bottle of merlot for the four of us, and steaks and baked potatoes. It was the most amazing meal I have had in a long time, at least the most amazing meal of food that I am used to. After dinner we were exhausted so we just walked around the city center a little bit, passing by the State Opera House and the House of the Secession. We went back to the hostel to plan out our sightseeing for the next two days, and headed to sleep before midnight.

State Opera House.

House of the Secession.

The next morning we woke up pretty early and got ready for our day, and ate breakfast at the hostel. We headed out to see the sights, and we saw quite a lot of Vienna that is for sure. We started out by trying to go to the Schonbrunn Palace, but couldn’t figure out where it was from the metro, so we decided to head towards the Museums Quarter and go to the modern art museum. All of the museums in Vienna are in this pretty large area of town all really close to each other, it is actually pretty cool. 

The Museum of Modern Art. Or the Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK) in Deutsch.

The modern was so amazing, the art as well as the architecture of the building were all worth looking at for quite awhile. We spent a large portion of our day here perusing and enjoying new art and artists, while seeing some of our favorites as well. After the museum we decided to go find a late lunch. Tuesday night when we were walking around we found an open air market, so we headed back there in search of some typical Viennese food. We found a small restaurant in the market and all got some Austrian beer and Wiener Schnitzel. Then we decided to find a dessert and found a delicious bakery, I decided on a chocolate croissant and it was amazingly good.

After lunch we had a slight problem of finding a place to buy our bus tickets home, we assumed we could buy them at the place we got dropped off, but no such luck. We had to exert our resources in Prague, and call Michal and have him help us find the place to buy them. He is our saving grace when we are traveling. Luckily we got bus tickets, but had to leave earlier on Thursday than originally expected so our trip was cut a little bit shorter than we wanted, but no problems. 
This is a cool mirror installation we found in one of the metro stations, it had the number of pi etched into it that stretched for a long while. We spent a little of time taking goofy pictures.

After we got the bus fiasco figured out we headed to St. Stephens Cathedral to climb the spire. There are 343 steps going up the spire all in a very tight spiral staircase. It was quite the workout, and was very nauseating, but it was definitely worth the view once we reached the top.

View from the top of the spire.

After St. Stephens we wondered around the town some more, coming upon what we thought was the National Library, but then realized after walking all the way around it, it was the State Opera House that we had seen the night before. We decided to find the National Library the next morning, and headed for dinner and a beer. We ate at a quaint little restaurant close to the city center, and then headed to a little pub for a few more beers. It was a fun evening spent in the pub, and then we headed home quite early so we could take the metro.

The next morning, our last day there we awoke, ate breakfast, and checked out of the hostel by about 9a. We then went to find the actual National Library, and succeeded, although it was rainy and gross outside, so we didn’t stick around for very long. By that time it was almost time to catch our bus so we found a Subway (I can't believe they have them in Europe), and got sandwiches for the road, then headed to the bus station. We boarded the bus around 11:30a and began our almost 5 hour journey home, again passing the beautiful wind farm, and finally making it back to Prague and to our dorm by 5p.

Wind farm we passed somewhere close to the Austria/Czech border.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Narodni Divaldo & Slavia Praha

As promised, although a little late, a blog about my night at the opera and my first Czech hockey game.

Fridays, I don’t have classes. So those days are always quite great. This particular friday evening we attended the opera. I went with Carles, my Spanish friend, his friend from Brussels, Thomas, Rachel, Sarah, Caitie, Anna, Diana, and Winifred. We went to see Carmen, which is a French opera, thankfully they had English and Czech subtitles on a screen above the stage. The subtitles were kind of hard to see though because we were sitting n the last row, behind a column. We can’t really complain too much though because our tickets were only 50 Kc, which is roughly only $2.50. It was quite an experience since it was my first opera, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Caitie using her opera glasses.

Our view from the last row. Pretty amazing actually.

After the opera we ran around town following Carles because he was trying to take us somewhere nice to eat, but it was getting late and everyone was hungry so we ended up grabbing pizza and gyros from a street vendor. Half of our group decided to go home, but me, Caitie, Carles, Thomas, Rachel, and Sarah decided to go to a pub. We ended up going to Nebe, and it was a lot like a New York bar, pretty posh with good drinks. We hung out there for most of the night talking and dancing a little bit. It was fun to not go to a dance club playing techno music for once.

This is me and Sarah enjoying some wine.

The next week two of my roommates, Holly & Danielle, invited Caitie and I to go to a Slavia Praha Hockey Game. Since I have never been to a hockey game in my life, I figured I should definitely go to one in the Czech Republic, since they are very well known for ice hockey. It was definitely a really fun time, we also went with 4 of our roommates Costa Rican friends. Caitie and I decided to get some Slavia scarves to represent, they are pretty awesome.

 I couldn’t believe how much people get into the hockey games, there was a huge fan section right next to where we sat and it was awesome to watch and hear them chant, I wish I could have chanted along, but alas I don’t know enough Czech for that! 

Slavia ended up winning, kind of last minute and it was awesome. Everyone went crazy!

Our group!

The metro ride home was definitely one of the craziest experiences I have had in Prague. Since the metro stop is the one for the stadium, we had to cram on trains to fit enough people on them. While this was happening, people were also jumping up and down, making the train sway, and also chanting and getting everyone to join them. The train started moving and people were still jumping up and down, the train was swaying from side to side and also moving.. It was definitely scary. Caitie and I finally made our way back to Dejvicka and had to pack and get ready for our trip to Vienna the next day, more about that later, I promise!

Friday, April 3, 2009

So this is what I'm here for....School

The whole reason I am actually in Prague is for school, and it finally started two weeks after my journey began. I am taking six classes here at Czech Technical University: Studio (of course, only because I have too), Computer Graphics, Figure Drawing, History of the Interior, Sculpting, and Color and Composition.

Studio meets on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings and it is a completely different experience than I have ever had, it’s not stressful and it’s not a big deal if I don’t get my work done. He told us the first day that if we are going to miss school because we are traveling, just to let him know and he will recommend places for us to visit where we are going, and he said not to miss for a month and then come back and say we were sick because he will know we are lying. So I can tell it will be great. Our first project was to design a logo that represented ourselves in 2D, and then we made it into a 3D logo. Our second project is to design a piece of jewelry for someone in our lives. Our third project is to design a chair in the style of Thonet. Thonet invented a system of bending wood and used it in his chair designs to make beautiful works. Our final project is to design an armchair for a building here in Prague. We were to visit four spaces in Prague, all built in different styles and to choose one space to design the chair for. There is a Gothic church, a Baroque Church, an Art Noveau space, and a Romanesque chapel. I still haven’t decided what space I’m using, it will come with time I am sure.

Computer graphics meets Tuesday afternoons at 3, for this class we are working in groups to come up with a new-age legend about Prague, a way to see Prague in another way, not as a tourist. We then have to either show our new legend with photos or illustrations that we do and manipulate them in Photoshop, and then put them together graphically in Illustrator or InDesign. Our group has just started work on our story board, but I think it’s going to be good, I will definitely keep you posted! After this class I have figure drawing until 7.

Figure drawing is probably my favorite class, and I had no idea that it would be. Drawing naked people for an hour and half didn’t exactly seem appealing to me in the first place, but I knew that it would immensely improve my sketching skills, something I know I need to work on. Our teacher is quite a precious older man that doesn’t speak much Czech, but he gets his point across about your drawing pretty well considering this fact. He doesn’t make me feel so bad about myself, and it’s always great to have him help out.

On Wednesdays I have History of the Interior at 1 in the afternoon. It is almost exactly like my History of Furniture class I took at KState, but with less organization, and with a really precious teacher. He is probably in his eighties and told us he learned English before World War II, so he gets frustrated when he can’t express to us what he wants to in English, we try to help out as much as possible, and I know he appreciates it. After history I have a couple hour break before heading to sculpting at 4:45p

Sculpting is something I have never done before so it is an interesting experience. Since most of us have never worked with clay before we have to start out by making a skull, we have a model to copy. After we make it out of clay, we get to cast it in plaster. Then if we have time, we are to make another piece of our choosing.

On Thursday mornings I have studio at 10a, which is the earliest I have class, so it makes it hard to go to sometimes. But then I have the rest of the day free because Color & Composition doesn’t meet until 5:45p.

Color and Composition is like my Visual Communications class I took at KState because we get to experiment with different media and then create one piece for the end of the semester. Our piece has to be about our experience in Prague as an Erasmus student. I still don’t know what I am doing for this project yet, but I really want to do something with ink & watercolor on different languages, since I am surrounded by so many friends that all speak different languages every day. We shall see, I will also keep you posted on this project!

Fridays are my free day which makes me absolutely ecstatic because I have never had a Friday off in my four years of college because studio is ALWAYS on Friday.

In the next post: the night at the Opera, night at the hookah bar, and my first Czech Hockey Game.

Love you all!