Saturday, April 29, 2006

Nutella

Lately I've been eating pretty weird food. My favorite foods right now are nutella and lentils. Don't worry...I don't mix them together. Lentils are so good (they are kind of like a little bean) in my pasta and rice dishes that I make for supper. Plus they are pretty healthy and cheap.
I think that everybody who studies abroad grows an affinity for Nutella. Nutella, in case you didn't know, is a chocolatey hazelnut spread that is similar to peanut butter. Last week, I found off-brand nutella mixed with marshmallow cream, and have been obsessed sense. Lately I've been mixing it with fruit in a bowl. Does putting two spoonfulls of pure sugar with your fruit cancel all health benefits?

Weird things about me

David said that I should fill out this survey, which is going around blogs. I can never think of stuff that is weird about me, so I asked him for some inspiration. Some of these are what he said.
Six weird qualities or habits I have:
1. I have a psychological hatred of cheese and butter, but I apparently drink nacho cheese like it's lifegiving water.
2. I tell riveting stories that always end up with, "Just forget it. I'm so bad at telling stories."
3. I have a replica of the night sky on my ceiling made out of packing peanuts.
4. Sometimes David and I joust at a playground in Kirksville. This involves knocking each other off a balance beam.
5. I hate running with people because I think I have a goofy stride.
6. When I was in high school, I painted my own shirts and wore them.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Prague Spring, part 2

Here are two more Prague Spring pictures. The first is of the Charles Bridge.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Prague Spring, part 1

I had some extra time on Monday, so I walked around Prague and took some pictures of the beautiful scenery. Here are some for you to enjoy:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

VE Day

Today is a holiday in all of Europe, and that is because it is VE Day! Everything was shut down in Prague today, and some of my friends went to Plzen, which is in the Czech Republic, to celebrate. My friend John kept saying that he wanted "to celebrate the V in the E".
When they got home tonight, they said that the people there dressed as cowboys and people from the Wild Wild West because the Americans liberated Plzen after World War II. There were also people dressed as American soldiers. The celebration sounded pretty cool, and their stories about the costumes were funny. If there are any veterans of WWII reading my blog, rest assured that you are still very much appreciated in Europe (and in America as well). It is so weird to think that the war ended only 61 years ago. Happy VE Day!

Amsterdam!

While posting about my spring break, I forgot to mention that I also officially went to the Netherlands. While I was in the Amsterdam airport, I somehow went through passport control and got a stamp. This was pretty exciting, because not all of the countries to which I've traveled have given a stamp. This time Colleen and I didn't get the shaft and got extra instead!

Tomorrow I leave Prague for another trip. I'm heading to Greece! I'm really excited because I am a Classics major. In case you were wondering, this does not mean that I study The Classics (as in literature) or even classic cars (haha). Classics is the study of the history and languages of ancient Greece and Rome. Therefore, this trip will be pretty interesting for me.
Again, David is on duty publishing posts for me, and I left one for every day. That means that you can still have your daily fill of Chick in Czech even though this chick is not in the Czech.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Paris!


Stop number three on our whirlwind tour of Europe (as our friend Kathryn calls our trip) was Paris, and we definitely saved the best for last. Paris was so beautiful, and I think it ties with Rome as my favorite city I've visited. We arrived in Paris very late at night on Tuesday and found our hotel. We were so tired from our previous days' activities that we slept in on Wednesday morning and then just started to walk around the city. First we encountered a bakery on a corner near our hotel. We got fresh croissants and baguettes every morning.

After walking around our neighborhood for a while, we decided to buy strawberries. These strawberries came off a fruit stand near our hotel and were the best fruit I've ever eaten in my life. Here is a picture of them:

Aren't they perfect specimens of fruit?

While we were eating, I looked to my left and said, "Hey! Isn't that the Arc de Triumphe?" Indeed it was. We headed that way and then walked toward the Louvre. While walking, I just loved to look at the buildings in Paris. The architecture was so beautiful. We researched prices for Louvre tickets and then went to Notre Dame Cathedral.

While at Notre Dame, we attended a vesper service, which was cool because I was able to understand some things (everything was in French or Latin). After that we watched these dudes do some cool stunts outside the cathedral:


That night we went to the Eiffel Tower. Colleen and I decided to be thrifty and take the stairs instead of the elevator (it was about $5 cheaper), but by the time we got to the first tier, we were too tired to walk all the way up to the top. However, it was still pretty amazing to be at the Eiffel Tower.

We were pretty hungry because of our climb, so we decided to get crepes from a stand in the street. While we were in Paris, I tried a ham crepe and a jam crepe. I want to learn how to make them at home. We used to buy them from the store but I think I probably tried to make tacos out of them.

The next day we went to the Louvre, which was very beautiful. I loved seeing the Mona Lisa. I wished I was a kid because they let children stand closer to the painting to get a good look!

About half of the museum was closed, which was a tiny disappointment, because the part that was closed was the collection of French paintings, which I really wanted to see. However, after the Louvre, we went to the Musee d'Orsay, which was simply amazing. The Musee d'Orsay houses more Modern Art, such as Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and the like. I was in heaven, because I love studying those artists. My Modern Art class at Truman was one of my favorite classes, so it was great to see all the actual paintings.

After the museum tours, we went to the Galeries Lafayette, which is a huge shopping mall. We mostly looked because there were a lot of designer clothes and our feet were tired. It was at this point that Colleen said, "Abbie, do your feet hurt? You're kind of limping..." and we laughed. We had been on our feet for almost seven days straight! I didn't care, though. The entire spring break trip was worth it.

On our last day, we got more strawberries and walked around our neighborhood again. Our flights back to Praha were fine, so overall we had a great spring break!

Monday, April 24, 2006

New format

Hello everybody! While I was bored in the computer lab today, I decided to try a new format for my blog. I hope you all like it!

Dublin!

The second leg of our trip brought us to Dublin. I loved the city. One of the reasons was probably because I felt right at home, as every single man there looked like my two Klos uncles and my great-Guihan uncle. While on the bus they all crossed their legs in the same manner, asked us where we were staying, and gave their opinion on the hostel. The first night we were there, we ate at a traditional Irish pub. This was after I had the following conversation with a native Dublin man (please note that there were Irish pubs on every corner):

Me: Do you know of any traditional Irish pubs?

Man: Eich, you must have just stepped off the plane.

In my defense, I meant to ask if he could recommend any traditional Irish pubs. That didn't stop him and Colleen from making immense fun of me. I had a traditional Irish breakfast, complete with burnt toast (we always joke in my family that I burn food because of my Irish heritage).

After the meal we went back to our hostel and an older man asked us for our IDs. We started whipping them out, since we were in a foreign country, but it turned out that he was just pulling our leg and was the maintenance man of the hostel. He introduced himself as Marty, a nickname for Richard and he didn't know where they would get Marty from Richard but he's been called that his entire life. He kept trying to get Colleen and me to go out with him because it was his sixtieth birthday and his 94-year-old mother who had ten kids had died two days before. He was so nice and after talking to him for a while we got our pictures taken with him:

Of course, he almost died with happiness when I told him that my mom made me a corned beef and cabbage dinner before I left so I didn't miss out on the St. Patrick's Day feast this year. He also loved that my birthday was on St. Patrick's Day and I told him about my very Irish Grandma Klos and he kept saying how she was a good Irish woman. He was definitely a fun person to meet.

The next day we woke up and I went to Irish mass, which was like mass at home. After that we walked around the city for a while. At one point it started to pour rain, so we ducked into a fish and chips stand. I kept thinking of how getting fish and chips was a huge treat for Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes and how cool it was that I was eating them in Ireland! After that we explored the castle (you can see me in the picture below if you look really closely):

The next day we woke up early and went to a service in St. Patrick's Cathedral. St. Patrick had supposedly baptized people on the grounds of the church. Only three people attended the service and it was Anglican, so neither Colleen nor I knew what to do (when to kneel, etc.). However, the minister was very nice and kind of helped us along. After church we had a picnic and attempted to find the docks, but were unsuccessful. Eventually we had to give up to catch our plane to Paris!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

London!


Hi everybody! It feels like it has been forever since I've actually written for my blog. This weekend I hit 3,000 visitors, so I am pretty excited! Please keep checking!
Colleen and I had a wonderful spring break. Our trip was great, and we didn't have any problems. I plan to post about each city at a time, and our first stop was London.
On Friday we arrived and found our hostel. We stayed in Greenwich, which is actually outside of London just a little. Once we got settled we headed for the city and saw Big Ben, the Parliment houses, Buckingham Park, and Hyde Park. That night we had a picnic in Green Park, which is near Buckingham Palace. It was so cool! After that we walked around London for a while to see the night lights, but we made it an early night as we were very tired from traveling that day.
On Saturday we woke up early and decided to walk to central London from our hostel. This was a big mistake because the walk was sooo long, but we eventually made it to the center. That day we had another picnic and then attended a Holy Saturday service at Westminster Abbey! That was pretty cool, because an all-male choir sang some songs in Latin, some of which I understood. After that we went to Hyde Park and had tea, which was cool because it was raining and the atmosphere was really nice. However, after that, we got to do something really cool.....

We went to Abbey Road! I was very excited because I love the Beatles. It took us a while to find it, but I was so excited that I didn't care. We walked across the road and signed the wall:

I loved it! Everybody wrote their favorite song, so that is why I wrote "Dear Prudence".

The next day we remembered that the Prime Meridian passed through Greenwich, so we decided to find it. I was so excited to stand on the line. After that, we ate breakfast and headed to Dublin.

Karlstejn Castle

While David was here, we went to Karlstejn Castle, which is about 45 minutes from Prague by train.

As soon as we got off the train, we noticed this boy:He was gathering snowballs so that he could attack us from across the street! Luckily we were able to thwart his plan by escaping very quickly. Bawahaha.
We also saw this swimming pool in the town. It was the first swimming pool I've seen since I've been in the Czech:
The castle was great. We got an English tour, and our tour guide was funny. In the castle, there was a display of a "dragon's head", which was really the head of a crocodile! Apparently the king claimed that he had killed it.
While we were there, we heard two men who had Midwestern accents speaking on our tour. They were pretty funny because you could tell that they were father and son. After the tour, the son offered to take our picture, and we found out that they were from Ottumwa, Iowa (which is about 40 minutes north of Kirksville). It really is a small world.
Here is a picture of David at the castle:

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Czech language

Last week we had our mid-term exam in Czech class. This was good because it forced me to study my Czech a lot, and now I am able to somewhat converse and understand other people's conversations! While I am running, I like to listen to snippets of people's conversations in as I pass them. I try to figure out what they were saying.
Many people in Prague know English really well. They are so funny because after we ask if they know English, they always say, "Yes, but I am not good at speaking the language. I'm so sorry..." Then they proceed to speak almost perfect English. People in Europe seem to know a lot of languages. I have one friend who knows six languages. Isn't that amazing? I sometimes wish that schools in America started teaching foreign languages earlier than high school, so that kids could learn them easier.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Apparently somebody was sick the day they learned about animals in school

While David was here, we shopped around for a souvenir for his little niece, Emma. Emma is two years old and pretty cute. We had a fun time looking for her present.

We decided pretty quickly to get her a marionette from Prague. The Czech Republic is famous for their puppets. While they were under Austrian rule, the Czech people were not allowed to speak Czech, except while they performed traditional Czech puppet acts. Therefore, marionettes became quite popular. Now there are a ton of marionette shops all around Prague.
Anyway, we went in a store and started to search for a puppet. The store had a large selection of animal puppets. This is where it gets funny...David came up to me and said, "Should we give Emma this horse?" This was cool with me, but he was holding up a camel:
I laughed and said, "Dude! That is a camel!" So then he got another animal and said, "Well, how about this horse?" This time his animal identification improved a little, because at least there weren't two humps on the back of the animal. He was holding up a donkey:
We laughed for a long time and ended up giving Emma a sheep.

Editor's note: This is grossly exaggerated. David is not a doofus.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everybody! I wanted to share the Czech Easter traditions with you all.

Apparently on Easter day the Czechs decorate Easter eggs. Their big celebration occurs on Easter Monday (which is a Czech national holiday). In the morning, all the boys wake all the girls they know early in the morning. Then they take willow sticks and jokingly beat the ladies. This beating is supposed to bring the lady beauty and a healthy spring. In return for the playful beating, the women give the men an Easter egg that they decorated the day before. It is explained more fully on this website:
The boys do this to everybody, including their grandmothers, travelers, friends, and other family members. Our Czech teacher said that once she was in the mountains for Easter Monday and little village boys woke her up to give her the beating.
Don't worry too much about the girls, though...later in the day they carry buckets of freezing cold water and dump it on the boys!
I hope you all have a happy Easter. Enjoy the day!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Spring break!

This week was my mid-term week. I had two in-class tests and I still need to complete two take-home exams. However, I think I will have ample time to get them finished.
Since this past week was mid-terms, this coming week is our spring break! (I know--it is a pretty late spring break.) Everybody in my group is going on a trip. Some boys are going to Spain, two people are heading to Greece, one girl is going on a ski trip with her family, and my suitemate is traveling around Spain and France with her mom.
Colleen and I are pretty excited about our trip, and we have a packed itinerary. Tomorrow we leave at 5 a.m. for London. We will stay there until Sunday, when we will go to Dublin for Easter day. On Tuesday, we leave Dublin and travel to Paris, where we will finish our week of traveling and come back to Prague on Friday.
I'm really excited about this break. I want to see Abbey Road in London (since I didn't get to see it the last time I went) and also maybe Chris Martin (who is the lead singer for Coldplay and is the second cutest guy in the entire world, according to me). I have a feeling that I won't see Chris Martin, though.
Dublin should be pretty laid-back: I think we may see a castle, but other than that we don't have much on our agenda. While we are in Paris we hope to spend a day at the Louvre (the most famous art museum in the world) and see the Eiffel Tower.
Today we laughed at ourselves because we both bought tons of snacks for the trip. Food is so expensive in countries that use the Euro for currency that it is cheaper to bring little snacks to eat during the day.
Even though I will be gone, never fear--my blog will still be here! I am writing a bunch of posts today and David will publish them throughout the next few days, so keep checking to see updates even though I will be gone. I'm supposed to link to him a lot as thanks for his work for me, so please visit his blog as well!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The tram, an update

Last night I finished updating and hopped on the 18 (the tram that takes me home). After settling down in a seat and relaxing, I noticed that the tram was actually not going home. I live on a hill, and this tram went away from the hill and to the side. Apparently it was going away into where the trams sleep for the night. Unfortunately, the woman who announces the stops on the loudspeaker had been announcing this in Czech, which I still do not understand very well. The tram stopped and I jumped off the tram at high speed, while dodging the closing doors. I ran across the tracks to the other side of the tram stop and noticed that the number 2 tram, which would take me home, was just about to leave without me! Luckily I had just enough time to slip through the doors and slide into a seat. Some girls who were eating chocolate out of a box gave me pretty weird looks, but I didn't care.
Note: I tried to make this story more interesting than it really was.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Under Construction


While my dad and brother were here, I took this picture of the Malostranska metro/tram stop. Malostranska is where we get off for school, so my friends and I are there almost every day. However, on Friday, this entire tram stop was torn out of the ground and workers began to lay new tracks. Now we have to walk around a corner to catch the tram.
Yesterday I was walking back to the tram stop after a long day of procrastinating at school. I noticed that tram number 18 was at the new stop and decided to run for it. When you are on the tram, you will most definitely see a runner. A runner is someone who is about 3,000 miles away from the tram and who thinks they can make the tram by running really, really fast. If you saw the runners, you would most likely pray for them not to fall because they are running so fast. Yesterday I was a classic runner. I noticed the tram when I was a long way away and sprinted. It was raining and I'm sure the people on the tram were thinking, "stupid girl...running in the rain" but luckily I made it. Making the trams gives one a certain sense of satisfaction, although this is usually contingent upon the mood of the tram driver on that day. He or she can either keep the tram waiting or shut the doors in the runner's face.
While David was here, I noticed the 18 while we were walking 2 blocks away from the stop. We decided to make a run for it (the trams really don't go that fast) and sprinted. David made it there first, just as the tram doors shut. The people on the tram had tried to hold the doors open to no avail. It was still a lot of fun even though we didn't make it. Afterwards, we decided that the experience was one of the most intense ever, aside from the gargling contest we had a few months ago.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Regular fashion icons


While David was here, we decided to go into a store here in Prague and try on some European fashions. This was a big event for two people who go to school in Kirksville, where people wear pajamas to class. We had to be sneaky about taking the pictures, because some 18-year-old girl was monitering the dressing rooms pretty closely. The operation included my getting dressed in my dressing room, going to David's to see his outfits, and finally taking the picture while coughing to cover the little "whish whish" sound that my camera makes whenever it takes a picture. The above outfits were my favorite, I think. These were just okay. My shirt says, "That's so hot", which is something I would never wear in real life:I think every man's shirt in this store had a similar theme. See if you can figure it out:This is me after David ran out of outfits:

Here is me after the ordeal, back in my normal clothes:Little does David know, I am going to buy all of these outfits so we can go to class in Kirksville with the best fashion!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My soccer adventure

Today I went to a Czech soccer game with my friends Kelly and James. It was pretty intense and fun. The weather outside was absolutely gorgeous, so we were pretty excited. The boys had bought soccer jerseys and scarves from a souvenir shop, so they were decked out in their soccer garb for the big game. We left about an hour before the game, as we had to get tickets once we arrived at the stadium. It was pretty funny because we had never been to the tram stop (it was called Sparta and was named after the soccer team we saw) and were worried about finding the stadium. That was a silly worry, because as soon as we got close to the stop we saw hoards of people. We followed the crowd but couldn't find the ticket offices. Finally, Kelly got the courage to ask some guy, who replied, "Karko", which we think is a bad word in Czech. I asked a lady who was selling programs and she laughed in my face. "It is sold out!" she said.

Of course, we were pretty bummed. I actually wanted to attend the game (which is a first for me, I think) and hadn't even brought a book to read! James and I spotted a bratwurst stand in the distance and made tracks for it right away. We decided that if we were not able to see the game, we were still going to eat our bratwurst. As we ate the yummy goodness that was the sausage, we noticed Kelly talking to random people. Of course, he was trying to buy tickets off a scalper. The first guy he talked to charged 2,000 crowns/ticket, which is about $89. We were not going to pay that much to see the game. The face value of the tickets was only $4.

Next Kelly gathered around these two little boys with a group. The boys almost sold their tickets to a man for a wad of cash but chickened out at the last minute. Finally, Kelly spotted a man with slicked-back black hair who kept looking for cops. He made a beeline for this man. James and I stayed away and tried to look nonchalant while eating. However, Kelly came out with three tickets to the game! We jumped up and down and made tracks for the entrance.

We noticed a lot of police officers lining the stadium. Outside there were police cars lining the streets, and then some policemen on horses. Here you can see the police lining the second floor of the stadium:

Why would they have so many police at the game? Maybe it was because the fans set things on fire:I am sorry that picture is blurry, but I had to whip out my camera pretty quickly to capture the "Ultra Sparta" flames.

The game was pretty fun. The soccer fans were craaazzzyy! Kelly and I ended up sitting together and yelled whenever the guy next to me yelled. We figured out pretty quickly that 1) we were in the Sparta stadium, 2) Sparta wore maroon, and the other team had red jerseys, 3) Kelly was wearing the jersey of the opposing team and 4) the Sparta fans were kind of scary. Luckily, we were sort of close to the section that held the fans of the other team (yes, the one section). Therefore, we were safe.

Here is a picture of me at the stadium:

Here is a picture of the Sparta mascot...

and here is another picture of the fans setting more stuff on fire.

Don't let the fire stuff worry you too much. It was such a fun time! I want to attend more soccer games before I leave Praha. I even got a little sun on my face.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday in the park

Do you remember the park in which I tried to run this February that was covered with ice? This week I went back to give it another try since the weather has been so warm. It is so beautiful! I've been running there every day this week for almost an hour. The fresh air feels so wonderful. It is nice to experience the beginning of the Prague spring.

A ton of people were just hanging out on benches this afternoon. I did some homework.
This is some sort of restaurant.

I took this picture myself!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Backpost: Roma

This weekend I am staying in Prague, so I thought that I would try to do some backposting about my Rome trip. I feel like I haven't done it justice because it was so amazing! It has been my favorite trip so far, but we'll see if it keeps its position after I go on my other trips (which promise to be pretty cool).
On Saturday we explored the ruins in Rome. We went to the Colosseum first, where these people who spoke English accosted us. "Do you really want to stand in that line? It is two and a half hours. If you hire one of our English tour guides for fifty euro, you can have a private tour of the Colosseum and avoid the line." Of course we didn't do this, and we got in the line and only had to wait about thirty minutes. The inside of the Colosseum was amazing. Here is a picture of my trying to act like a gladiator:

Here is a picture of the Colosseum at night:

After the Colosseum we investigated the ruins. It was so cool to see all of the sights because I am a Classics major. However, I couldn't seem to recall a lot of my Classics knowledge. David kept asking, "so what happened here?" and I never really knew. I did remember what happened at the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, but it was funny because I thought we had located it and it turned out to be a different building altogether.

Here is a picture of David with his name etched in the side of the wall of the ruins. Five seconds before this picture was taken David said, "Isn't it sad that people ruin these ruins?" (Haha, what a punster). Then I pointed out his name and he said, "yeah!" So here is the pseudo-defacer:

Rome also had a lot of fountains. There were some drinking fountains just in the middle of the streets, which were pretty handy and fun. All one had to do was stick his/her finger in the end of the fountain and it would spout out water that was easy to drink! Here are some demonstrations:More about Rome later. I better start studying for my mid-terms now!