I wanted to quickly share a cool new saying I made up, and since I am going to Munich, it kind of fits...
Do you know about Steve Prefontaine? He was this runner in the 70s or 80s, but he is David's idol. Prefontaine ran a really intense race in Munich, so David keeps telling me to go to the track where it occurred. While David was here, I made up the saying for people to use when they need to quickly get away from something. It goes like this: "Make like Prefontaine and run!"
So now I'm going to make like Prefontaine and go to Munich.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
I wanted to quickly share a cool new saying I made up, and since I am going to Munich, it kind of fits...
Today the water was turned off in our hotel for some reason. It was supposed to come back on at 6:30, but I ran earlier in the afternoon and felt so gross. So at around 3:00, Colleen and I tried to turn on the water, and some came out! We checked all the faucets and I turned on the shower (because the water has to heat up before you actually step inside) and went to flush the toilet to see if it worked. When I flushed the toilet, the water was all brown! I rushed back to look at the shower, which was now spewing out brown muck, and there was a ton of dirt at the bottom. Yucko! Needless to say, I didn't get a shower at that time.
This weekend Colleen and I are going to Munich. I'm pretty excited about the trip, because I loved Germany last weekend when I went with my dad and brother. I will be sure to update about our weekend on Monday or Tuesday!
Here are some pictures of street musicians on the Charles Bridge. As David says, "Oh, Ethan!" That's apparently from Mission: Impossible. I don't know why I just said that quote, except that it is said on the Charles Bridge, right before some guy gets betrayed.
This guy was playing with wisk!
I'm learning a lot in my Gender and Equality in Europe class. Yesterday we watched beer commercials from the Czech Republic and discussed how the commercials illustrate stereotypes in which men are supposed to fit. It is amazing to me how much little things in our daily lives (such as advertising) either cause (or perhaps reflect) our skewed perceptions of gender.
We also discuss motherhood in this class, because the Czech Republic is facing a drastic downfall in its population. I never really thought of under population being a problem for a country, because it seems there are plenty of people in America. Women were given varying levels of maternity rights under Communist rule, such as very long maternity leave (at one point, they could take up to 4 years!). Now, the government attempts to increase the birth rate with special programs. Women are given about $700 when they have a baby to help with the expenses, and for the upcoming elections, a political party is promising to increase that number to about $4,000.
Prague is also incorporating new trams into their public transportation system that make life much easier for mothers. Mothers here have to lug around huge strollers that have about a million layers of insulation. These huge strollers make it very hard to get on and off a tram. Usually a stranger has to help the mother lift the stroller up the three steps and into the car. These new trams are at ground level, which is much better for mothers. It should be interesting to see what new developments occur with the upcoming elections.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Today my Czech class went out to eat breakfast, and we were supposed to order the food in Czech. My teacher had picked a restaurant that she thought was a traditional Czech place (so we could order from a Czech menu and practice speaking the language), but we got there and the menu was half in English! She was a little discouraged, but the food was really good anyway. One of my friends had goulash (a traditional Czech dish that includes meat and gravy), but mostly everybody else had eggs and cheese. I got two croissants, since I do not like either eggs or cheese, and they were really yummy. It was a perfect break from having class. Now I have class for the rest of the day.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Yes, everybody. This is my brother, and he actually bought this t-shirt.
My brother came to Europe for the first time this past weekend and I think he had a fun time. It was a little culture shock for him, since he is from Farber (haha). The poor kid had a bout with jet lag, but was a lot of fun even though I think he wanted to fall asleep with every step. He especially loved taking pictures, but instead of posing by the castle or the cathedral, he delighted in standing next to these life-sized advertising dudes. Below are some of his poses:
My dad and brother left today, and I did much better at the airport this time. My mom is a genius planner. She booked their arrival for three days after David left (so that I wasn't so sad from him), and their departure on a day I had school (so that I would have to go to school after). Tonight I am planning on running a little. This weekend was actually spring forward in Prague, so it is light for a long time in the evenings. The time change made us pretty confused this weekend. I was so excited to bring my dad and brother to English mass on Sunday morning to show them where I go to church, but when we arrived, the priests were distributing communion! Even though we missed most of the mass, we got to hear an Irish girl choir singing at the end(they were guests to the church this weekend), and their singing was beautiful.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Today my dad, Ryan, and I took a lunch cruise down the Vlatava river (the river that runs through the center of Prague). It was a beautiful day, so afterwards we decided to take a long walk around my school. Tomorrow Dad and Ryan are leaving, which will be sad. I've enjoyed having them here and being their personal tour guide! Below are some pictures taken on the cruise.
Here is a picture of Ryan enjoying the breeze:
Me and my dad:
These are of the Charles Bridge:
Hello everybody! This is a post by both Abbie and Ryan. Today we explored more of Prague, which was a lot of fun. Above you can see a picture of us in Old Town. A little kid took our picture. His parents were wishing he'd quit talking to strangers.
We tried attending English mass this morning. I was very excited about showing Ryan and Dad the mass, but as we walked into the church, we noticed that communion was being distributed! It happens that Prague had its spring forward time change last night, and we were not even aware! It was pretty funny. Even though we missed most of mass, we got to hear a beautiful Irish girl choir singing (they were special guests to the church).
Yesterday, our father informed us that he knows German. Mr. Blaue, you must be doing a good job of integrating German in your school. We were walking along in Dresden and saw a place to eat. We said, "Dad, why don't we go there?" and he said, "Oh, we can't. It only serves dessert." Naturally, we asked him how he knew that, and he said, "Oh, I know how to read German."
We all laughed for two days about this comment. A little later on, Dad said, "See? I know how to read that! Eating and Drinking!" Here was the sign:
Today we walked past this sign, and our dad said, "Abbie, you can get tickets for sporting events here! I know because it has the word 'sport' in it!"This place is actually a bank, so I guess he is 1-1.
Later tonight, we decided to take goofy pictures:We have been laughing so hard at the goofiest stuff. Man, don't you wish you were in Europe with two dudes from Farber?
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Sorry, but my post will probably be kind of short today. We are all really tired!
Today my dad, my brother, and I all went to Germany. We decided to take a day trip to Dresden, which was pretty fun. The highlight of the trip was (grossly enough) the food. We got there and ate. Then we went sightseeing and ate some more. Finally, we walked around and then decided to get some kind of weiner sandwich at this place:
Ohh, they were so good. Germany is a great country for food. Here is a picture of the meat:
Finally, will you just take a look at these two dudes? Who can be funner on a train? I love having my dad and brother here with me becuase, in their presence, I am constantly laughing.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My mystery guests arrived today! In case you didn't figure it out, they were my dad and my brother! I was so excited to get them from the airport. They said they were so confused by the time changes that they didn't even know what day it was. It was so funny. They keep making me laugh with their questions and fun stories.
Today I showed them around my neighborhood. They kept saying, "why don't you ever blog about this?" so now I have a lot of new blogging ideas. We ate at a local Italian restaurant, which was so good. After that, I took a walk with my brother and enjoyed talking to him very much. I am going to sleep now, but I will definitely post about their visit when I have time. Tomorrow we are going to the castle here in Prague (after they catch up on their sleep!).
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
As you all know, David was here last week. We've been dating for over a year now, and have been trying to keep it up while I am studying abroad. He came to visit me over his spring break, and I had a wonderful time showing him around Europe. I think his being here actually reminded me how close we really are. It also taught me several things about him that I didn't know before. During his trip, we were pretty much together every single day, because as soon as we left our hotel/hostel we were touring together.
After that, we started to say the same things at the same time. Here is an example: we were in Rome looking at a fountain at night. I watched as David put his finger into the water and it looked so cool that I said, "Man, water is amazing", and David went nuts because apparently he was opening his mouth to say the exact same thing. Later, we were eating something, and we both said, "do you like this?" at the same time. I think we had spent too much time together.
David is also an interesting travel buddy. I have learned one thing about him: he likes to walk quickly. I knew he was a fast walker from knowing him at Truman, because we sometimes asked him to speed walk for us so we could all have a good laugh. However, when we were looking at stuff in Old Town, he was practically running! I was literally being dragged through the streets of Prague by his hand all day on Wednesday. This speed walking does not allow me to look in any shop windows, which I think is a plan of his so that he doesn't have to buy me stuff.
On Friday, we had a pretty big almost disaster that tested our relationship. This was the scene just before the ordeal:
On one final note, he likes to quote movies. That means that every time we crossed the Charles Bridge I got to hear "Oh, Ethan!" from Mission: Impossible (which I have not even seen), and when we went to the Colosseum I got to hear entire speeches from Gladiator. I did appreciate his taking my backpack and wearing it all day long so that I didn't have to look like such a goof:
While in Rome and watching all the street musicians, David and I started a discussion on which instrument is better to play: the accordion, the harmonica, or the bagpipes. We decided to post a poll on our blogs to see your opinions, so please vote for your favorite instrument!
Hi everybody! Here are some random Rome pictures for your enjoyment. I will try to add some good descriptions.
This is a picture of Trevi Fountain. It was so amazing...we sat and just watched it for a long time. There were people selling these stress balls around the fountain, and most people rejected their advances. However, a tour group of high school kids came and the sellers showed them how they could shape the balls into different shapes. Of course, all of the boys bought the balls and then didn't know how to use them. It was funny to watch. I'm sure their teachers didn't think it was very funny.This is a picture of the view from our hostel's bus stop. You can see the rush hour traffic in Roma!Here is David after we figured out where the Vatican was located.Here are some doors that I saw in the line to the Vatican. They had the Pope's name on them, so I got really excited!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Please allow me to share some funny stories about my goofiness. At least, I think they are funny. Usually when I say I have a funny story, my friends quit listening to me, so it may behoove you to just quit reading now.
Tonight when I was running I felt really embarassed because I started to do a fun run, which is when I run with my legs and arms going in all sorts of directions just to stretch my body and get out extra energy. Generally I do this when I know people are not watching. However, when running in the dark, I do not always see people approaching me, and a poor man had been watching me for many feet before I realized his presence. I felt so goofy.
Okay, so that may not have been a good story, but here's another one:
On Monday I decided to hand wash some pants I have in our bathroom sink, so I turned on the water full force to fill the basin quickly. Unfortunately, I was still sad, so I began reading US Weekly to cheer myself up. I began to hear a weird dripping noise and looked in the bathroom to see if the shower had somehow turned on, but it hadn't, so I just kept reading. About two or three minutes later, I suddenly remembered the water and rushed to the scene. Water was overflowing from the sink onto the floor. I had created a flood, and wasted too much water in the process. It was a disaster.
Gah! Blogger is being weird with photos right now, so I can only upload this one. I will try to make another post with more photos.
As you all know, Friday was my 21st birthday, so I will summarize that day in Rome first. In order to be really dorky, I’ll try to go over most of the hours I was awake. I think this will give you a good overview of the activities for the day.
At 7 a.m., I groggily woke and wondered why anyone would have to get up at 7 a.m. on their birthday. However, I thought it would be worth it because I would be hanging out with the Pope during the day. It was at this point that I decided to ask to meet the Pope since it was my birthday and surely he would want to meet me on lucky St. Patrick’s Day. We finally left the hostel at about 8:00 a.m. and started our 20-minute wait for the bus to bring us to the Vatican (public transportation in Rome is insane). David sang “Happy Birthday” to me, so I realized that I was the birthday girl and started trying to order him around, but it didn’t work.
We arrived at the Vatican from the bus at 9:00 a.m. The bus took about an hour because of the rush hour. When we got off the bus, we headed in what we thought was the general direction of the Vatican. Unfortunately, our (my) intuitions were incorrect. Finally, we found the entrance into the Vatican and pump our fists into the air. Little did we know that the line was three blocks long...
We are still in line for the Vatican at 10:00. By this time, we had exhausted all waiting games, including singing nice songs and pretending to be security guards. We saw some doors that have the word “Pope” on them and knew we were getting close.
At 11:00, we had finally entered the Vatican. At this point, we were probably trying to find the Sistine Chapel. There were tons of signs all around that said “Sistine Chapel- this way”, but they were just tricks to get people to walk around the entire building.
We had seen the Sistine Chapel by 12 noon. David rested his feet while I bought lots of cool souvenirs. I will take pictures of the souvenirs and post them after my mom gets to open all of them. There was still no sign of the Pope. We started discussing how he probably gets to go everywhere in Rome for free and how he also probably gets to step over the roped areas. This is because everything in Rome has his name on it.
By 1:00, we had averted an almost disastrous event about which I will post in a post titled “You really learn a lot about a person you are dating if you get to travel with them”. After the picnic, we decided to go to St. Peter’s Basilica. It was so amazing. We went to see Pope John Paul II’s tomb, which was very sad. After that we went into the actual church area. The interior was huge and beautiful. The art was gorgeous and I felt so lucky to see it. We saw some people wearing St. Patrick’s Day garb in St. Peter’s Square. One guy had a green afro on his head!
After finishing with the Vatican, we decided to walk around and look at fountains. I think that Rome is nicknamed The City of Fountains, but I don’t really know for sure. I got to see some that we studied in my art class, and it was funny because at one point I said, “Oh, I can’t wait to see this! I hope we are close. Oh wait, we’re here.” We decided to stop for some gelato on one of the tourist areas. Yum….it was so delicious.
For supper, we decided to eat near the Pantheon and I will write about the amazing food in Rome later. After supper, we went to the Pantheon and walked around Rome at night. By this time, it was around 8:00 p.m. and we were exhausted, so we went back to the hostel and read. It wasn’t a very wild 21st birthday night: the craziest thing I did was attempt to eat a cookie in less than one minute on a dare from David (I lost the dare because I was laughing too hard!).
My birthday was such a wonderful day. Rome was absolutely beautiful, and I would go back in a second! There are more funny stories about David’s visit, and I haven’t gotten to tell everything about Rome. However, I want to go back and run at the Hotel, so I will post again later.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Hello everybody! I am back from Roma, and David left this morning. He asked me not to post very much about what we actually did until tomorrow or Wednesday because he wants to tell his family about his trip first. Therefore, I promise to post about our adventures later. I will probably be posting about his visit for weeks to come because it was so eventful but there was almost no time to write anything, and I have lots of funny stories.
Today was very sad because David left at 7:00 a.m. I waved good-bye to him at the passport counter, turned around when he disappeared, and burst into tears. The people in the airport must have thought I had a serious problem. I made my way to the bus stop, where a poor boy was waiting for the bus. He kept giving me sideways glances as I leaned against a column and cried. However, I am doing much better now. I have gone a few hours without shedding a tear, which is good.
If you are worried about me after reading my reaction to David's leaving, you should consider that this is pretty normal behavior for me. When I was little, I went to a camp that was 40 minutes from my house. The camp was overnight and lasted a week. I cried so much during that week because I was so homesick for my parents and brother, even though I received mail from them every single day and was practically in my back yard. After that camp, I realized that I should just try not to be homesick anymore. When I went to MSA, I had no problems whatsoever, but this might have been because they were shooing me to so many activities and I didn't have time to get homesick.
College wasn't so bad--I only cried for about three hours as my poor parents moved my two carloads of stuff (including three crates of leisure reading material) up three flights of stairs. I was sobbing as they drove away, but found my way back to the dorm room and was fine.
Studying abroad is a different story. Somehow, an ocean between your hotel and your house makes everything harder. I was twenty years old when I came, but I still cried for hours with Colleen as we unpacked our stuff the first day. I've been doing better--having a routine and traveling helps a lot (I'm never homesick when we go on weekend adventures). Going to church has also helped me tons--I like doing an activity that is exactly the same as it is at home, even though I am in the Czech Republic.
Homesickness is something which is hard to overcome. However, this week I will feel much, much better. I am having more visitors later in the week! I will keep their identities a surprise.
I will leave you with some pictures of Rome (I'm sorry, David, but I couldn't help it!). The first two are of kitties in Rome. I loved Rome because there were cats everywhere! Prague is infested by dogs, but Rome was infested with cats! I got to pet a cat at the hostel, but it tried to bite me because I petted it too hard (I think I actually mauled it because I had not seen a cat in so long and was so excited).
The next picture is of a bride and groom. I love weddings, so this was also great fun:
Finally, here is a picture of David and me in the Colosseum. Yes, I have stood in the Colosseum. It was sooo amazing! I can't wait to write more!
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Happy early St. Patrick's Day, everybody! My family loves St. Patrick's Day. My Grandma Klos took the holiday pretty seriously (it will be the 12th anniversary of her death), and my mom sent me this garb to wear for the day:
St. Patrick's Day also happens to be my birthday. This year I am turning 21 and it feels really weird to be into my twenties. You may be wondering what I am doing for my big day. Images of the bar scene may be floating into your head and you may be cringing, but have no fear! This year I am going to be in Rome. Hopefully, I will be hanging out with the Pope on the big day, and I doubt he will appreciate that kind of behavior in his city. Apparently we have to get up at 6 in the morning in order to get into the Vatican City, so I will have a nice, long day.
I will miss my family's traditional birthday meal (corned beef and cabbage) and all of the other birthday meals everybody throws for me, but David will still be here and that will be great fun. I'm really excited about this birthday. I think it will be great! Have a great and Irish-filled weekend!
Apparently the link from my blog to David's blog didn't work very well. If you are interested in reading his version of our trip, you can try to go to it at this address:
His trip has been very relaxing and fun. It is almost like a spring break for me as well! On Saturday we went out to lunch with some people in my group. David got to try goulash (a traditional Czech meal that is made of meat and gravy), potato dumplings, and borsch (a Russian soup). As you all know, I don't love the Czech food, but I think he liked the soup a lot. After eating, we walked around New Town and Old Town, which are two major tourist areas in Prague. It was great to see him again and show him where I am living for the semester.
David loves skiing, so we went skiing on Sunday. We took a train to a small Czech town on the German/Czech border. I love taking trains places--it is so relaxing! It was David's first train ride ever, so I took a picture of him:
I had made toast for the train ride to the ski place. Of course, we only made it to the Prague train station before we decided to break out the bread and eat it. There was a pigeon lurking in front of us, and so David started to break off a piece of bread so he could feed the pigeons. Gaaa! Luckily, I was there to save him from the attack of the pigeons (if you feed one, it tells its friends and they all come to get bread and never leave):
Oftentimes on the trains we encounter old Czech guys who are obsessed with Americans. When we went to Krakow, an old man had us all sign a book for him and wanted us to draw an American flag on his coat (a girl in our group was translating for us, and told him that we couldn't draw on his coat, so he was sad but kept saying that he loved Americans). Anyway, we met another old Czech guy on the train. He found out that we were going to Zelna Ruda (our ski place) and decided to help us get off at the correct location. It was pretty funny because at first we got off at the wrong train station (there are three for Zelna Ruda, and you get off at whichever is closest to your destination), and he got off the train and started to usher us back on. Then he kept trying to indicate that we should go right when we stepped off the train at the correct station, so he kept shaking David's right arm and nodding. The poor man probably thought we were pretty goofy because we did not understand his directions. He was pretty funny.
Skiing was so much fun! We skied at a place near Zelna Ruda. Actually, I skied and David snowboarded so that we would be about equal in ability (he has been skiing since he was five). It was so funny because I kept falling. One time I skied into a snowdrift and fell flat on my face into the snow and my skies went straight up into the air. I looked back to see if David was concerned about me but he was laughing! I paid him back when I beat him at a race later in the day. We raced twice: the first time he beat me by about ten minutes because I fell and lost my poles. It took me a long time to retrieve them because I couldn't decide if I should try to stand up on the skis or scoot on my bottom. I ended up doing half and half, so it took forever. The second time we raced I didn't fall and swooped past him as I went down the last stretch. It was pretty exciting. I also did some jumping on the skis. This is a pretty good representation of how I looked:
All in all, I think I improved from my first time skiing. David didn't give me any new rules (we just had a review of the four original rules), and he didn't have a furrowed brow the entire time.
After skiing, we were very hungry, so we decided to go to the grocery store to buy some snacks. Of course, we didn't have any utensils, so David suggested that we get applesauce and just drink it out of the jar. We bought it and got outside and tried to open it, and I noticed that there was a baby on the front and some pictures of apricots. We had gotten apricot baby food instead! I decided to try it because I didn't want to waste the food and it was pretty good. Now it is in my cupboard and I am planning to eat it as a dessert. Everybody at school was laughing because I am pretty stingy with spending money here (I keep thinking that I'd rather travel than buy a lot of elaborate food), and they joked that even if I didn't like the baby food, I'd still eat it anyway because I wouldn't want it to go to waste.
Our train ride home was not as relaxing because the heaters were not working. It was so freezing cold! At one point the conductor came through our car and said something in Czech, which of course made no sense to us. I recognized one word: "autobus", so I just thought that a group of people were going to meet a bus somewhere and it was late or something. Nope...it turned out that everybody on the train had to get off and ride on a bus instead! David and I figured this out when everybody started to get off the train except for us. They were headed for two parked buses, so we decided to follow them. The bus only drove us for about two stops, and we got a new train that had a heater! It was so nice.
On Monday we decided to walk around Prague at night. The city was very pretty, but it was sooo cold. Unfortunately for David, it has been pretty cold since he got here. Hopefully it will be warmer for my future visitors!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
David arrived on Friday! It was funny because I stood with the limo drivers at the airport, holding a sign that said, "Vitam Vas, David!" which means, "Welcome, David!" in Czech. Here is a link to his blog if you want to read about his flights. We are not having very good timing with the computer lab, and have to leave now in order to catch a train to a castle town.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Hello readers! I am sorry I have not posted in so long. I will post tomorrow during the day. Having a visitor is hard work! We are having a lot of fun and we got to go skiing. I will have a lot of funny stories to tell you tomorrow.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Hello everybody! I think I will give you an update on my classes. I'm taking four: Central European Literature, Elementary Czech, Post-War European Film, and Gender Equality in Europe. I really enjoy all of my classes.
Elementary Czech is fun because all of the people in my study abroad group are in the class. There are only 12 of us, so we get a lot of individual attention, but we still manage to butcher the language to the point where our teacher laughs at us. We've all been making presentations lately. Mine was over eating in a restaurant, so I made my handout look like a menu.
My literature and film classes are taught by the same professor. He wears black pants, a black turtleneck, and a black blazer every single day. We are wondering what he is going to do when the weather turns warm. We only have a midterm and a final in both of those classes plus readings, so I really haven't had too much work for them. My film class is especially interesting because we are watching European films that are kind of obscure. I feel like I've learned a lot, because I knew nothing about film before this class.
Finally, I have my Gender Equality in Europe class. This class is pretty fun. My teacher reminds me a lot of Mrs. Berry (my old Art teacher). She is so cute and is very enthusiastic about the subject. Last night our class went on a field trip to a punk rock concert to celebrate International Women's Day. It was so interesting to see a Czech band. They were good, so I was glad I got to go. I got to know a Czech girl from my class, who is very nice. I felt more immersed in Czech culture (sometimes it is hard to experience real Czech culture, since we are usually in tourist areas of Prague and with other Americans).
Tomorrow I am getting my first visitor! David is coming at around 3:00 or so. I'm so excited! This weekend, we are planning on going skiing and I will also show him around Prague. I've been trying to plan a bunch of fun stuff for him to see while he's here, and I'm off to the train station now to buy tickets for a day trip to a castle. I wanted to make him a sign for the airport, but I think I am just going to hold up one of the limo driver signs that just has his name on it. I'll let you know how it goes.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Some of you may be wondering what hostels are like (I certainly did before I came to Europe), because I keep mentioning that I stay in them. Hostels are supposed to be hotels for young adults who are on a budget while traveling. Basically, when you are traveling in a group, you get one room for everybody. When you travel in pairs or by yourself, you are sometimes placed in a room with other people. There are lockers in which you can store your stuff so it is safe. Usually, hostels are $25-$30 per night, which is a really good deal, and they have a very friendly atmosphere. People hang around at night and swap stories about traveling. Above is a picture of our hostel in Krakow.
Today the weather has been so weird in Prague. We woke up this morning and it was sunny and warm. However, after we got out of class, Colleen and I grabbed a bagel at Bohemia Bagel (this yummy restaurant that is similar to St. Louis Bread Company) and it began snowing hard! Our walk back was very chilly. I was hoping that spring would come soon. Oh well. Tonight I am going to go back to the hotel and run. Then I am helping Colleen with her Czech presentation. I will try to update about my classes soon.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Hello everybody! Yesterday we got back from Poland. It was a very amazing and fun trip. Some of my family is from Poland, so it was interesting to be in the country of my ancestors. We left Prague on Friday and rode the train to Krakow. The train ride was pretty long-eight hours- but I enjoy riding on the trains because I think they are very relaxing (I get to read my book for that amount of time!). Once we got there, we went to our hostel and went out to eat. I wasn't sure how I would feel about Polish food, but it was very good. That night I ate some fish, potatoes, and a mixture of sauerkraut. I especially loved the sauerkraut, which was served cold but was very tangy and yummy. After that, we walked around the Krakow castle for a night view and went to bed.
The next morning we all woke very early and went to Auschwitz. It took us about an hour and a half to get there in a little van that transported people from Krakow to the village near Auschwitz. We hired a private tour guide (which turned out to be cheaper for our group of ten than having us each buy individual tour tickets) and embarked on our tour.
The tour was truly amazing. The picture above is of the entrance of the camp. The inscription says, "Work will set you free". The biggest surprise was the size of the camps. Auschwitz itself was not as big, but there are two other camps nearby. We went to Birkenau, which is part of the Auschwitz complex. Birkenau was very big--with remains as far as the eye could see in one direction. I won't really get into the sadness of the tour, but if you want a more detailed account of what we saw, you can email me. It will suffice to say that the tour was very sad but amazing to see. We had an entire unit on the Holocaust in Novels and Short Stories (I knew more information about it than the other kids, Mrs. Gatson!) but no pictures or videos could compare to actually standing there.
After the Auschwitz tour, we went back to Krakow to have supper. We went to another traditional Polish restaurant for supper, and this time I had the salad bar (which was really pots of different types of sauerkraut...mmmmm), fried potatoes, and pierogies. My pierogies had cabbage and mushrooms in them, but they were filled with many combinations of things, including potatoes and cheese, a mixture of meats, and other vegetables. For dessert, Colleen and I shared the most amazing ice cream. It was a treat because we never get ice cream here.
The next day Colleen and I woke up very early and started to walk around the city. We stumbled into what we think is the main cathedral in Krakow, called St. Mary's Cathedral (it is the brown church behind me in this picture). Mass was about to be performed, so we decided to stay. The church was so beautiful. The ceilings were so high and painted blue. Little yellow stars dotted the blue area. Below is a picture of the inside that I found on the internet:The stations of the cross were in gold plating. It was a very colorful church, and I think it may be the most beautiful church I've seen so far.
After mass, we decided to find an a certain art museum so we could see a da Vinci painting that hung there. We got a little lost on the way, but it was okay because it only allowed us to see more of Krakow. The painting is called Lady with an Ermine. I was so excited because it was the first time I have seen a da Vinci up close. The painting was very beautiful and it was worth getting lost on the way because the museum had free admission on Sundays!
After seeing the painting, we went on a mission to find a souvenir shop. This was a challenge because Krakow seemed to be a very religious city and a lot of the stores were closed on Sundays. Eventually, we found some shops, and I asked a guy if he had anything with Pope John Paul II's image on it for my mom. At first he seemed disappointed because he didn't have anything. Then he smiled, got excited, and handed me a cigarette lighter with a picture of the Pope on it. Colleen and I burst out laughing because he had a Pope John Paul version and also a Pope Benedict version. Needless to say, I did not get the lighter for my mom.
Pope John Paul II's picture was everywhere in Krakow, because he was from a village near the city. It was also interesting because there was literally a church on every block and all of them were beautifully decorated. It seemed that religion was a way of life there, which made Krakow pretty distinctive from any place I've been so far.
My weekend was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed walking around the city very much. However, we were happy to be back in good old Prague by the end. I loved traveling and I can't wait until my next adventure!