Sliding back down the “W” curve Wednesday, Jul 29 2009 

So I’ve been back in the States for just over a week now and I have to say that it’s been a bit more of an adjustment than I expected. From the little things like driving myself around again to the cultural differences like making eye-contact on the street, it’s been a week of ups and downs. Driving was the easy thing to get adjusted to again. Sometimes I still think having a Metro around would be prettty handy and I do miss the walking, but driving isn’t so bad. The eye-contact thing is a bit harder. I never really thought about how much people in the States, especially in tiny little Butler, make eye-contact on the street and wave at each other and such. I’d gotten so used to just looking straight ahead and ignoring everything in my periphery in France and the rest of Europe and here that’s being rude. I have to remember to smile and wave. The friendliness is a nice difference though, I really did miss walking down the street and practically always running into someone I know.

The best part of being home though has definitely been getting to see everyone again. I really missed all my friends and especially my nieces and nephew. Kallie and Dylan were so happy to see me, Kallie had been getting pretty mad that I hadn’t seen her in so long and Dylan had to tell me all about every single detail of his summer. Whitley didn’t really remember me so it took her a while to warm back up to me and baby Carissa doesn’t know the difference anyway. It’s been great to finally hold her though!

I’ve been trying to keep up with my French and use it some. Lots of times I still catch myself thinking of sentences in French before I say them in English and the kids are really enjoying the books I got them in French.

Now I’m down to just over a week left before I move into the apartment in Columbia. I’m getting really excited for that, I can just tell it’s going to be a great year! My project for the time between now and then is going to be starting on a scrapbook for this trip I think. This was just too amazing of a summer to not remember it forever!

Thanks so much to all of you who followed this blog and left your comments. I really enjoyed writing and sharing my photos and I’m so glad that so many enjoyed it as well. A blog is really only as good as its readers!

I’d be happy never riding a bus again Friday, Jul 17 2009 

Thursday morning the 4 of us woke up semi-early to check out of the hostel on time. We didn’t stick around for breakfast because we decided we wanted our last meal in Ireland to be a traditional Irish breakfast. After walking around for a little bit we found a pub nearby that was still serving and sat down to enjoy some food before Sarah had to catch her bus to Dublin to catch her flight to London. The breakfast was huge and delicious! We all agreed that we’d made a good decision in choosing breakfast out over toast at the hostel.

After breakfast it was good-bye to Sarah as she headed off to catch her bus; she still has 2 weeks in Europe thanks to a cruise with her family. Personally I’m ready to go home. Jaclyn, Katie and I still had about an hour to kill before we had to catch our bus so we wandered around Galway one last time soaking  it all in. After one last visit to the Oscar Wilde statue and the tourism center so Jaclyn could grab one last souvenir we got on our bus. The bus from Galway to Dublin took about 3.5 hours total and I’m not ashamed to say I slept most of the way. I just put on The Beatles on my iPod and conked out. It was wonderful.

We got to the airport in plenty of time and actually made it through customs and security just fine (mainly because we didn’t have to go through customs). The flight was delayed about 20 minutes but overall it wasn’t bad. We found out in the air what the cause of the delay was–bad weather. Flying into Paris we got some bad turbulence, worse than anything I’ve ever experience, and could see the sky light up with the lightning from a summer thunderstorm. When we got off the plane we were a little shocked by the heat and humidity, we’d gotten pretty used to the cooler weather in Prague and Galway.

From the plane it was onto another bus, this one to take us actually into Paris. I think it’s pretty cool that now we’ve flown in/out of all three airports in Paris: Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais. That bus ride was the worst because the driver was a moron and kept going in circles. I swear it must have taken twice as long as needed to get to our destination and the rain had nothing to do with it. Luckily for us though the drop off point was really close to the Chalufour’s apartment so we just walked home.

Once we got home it was a speed round of re-packing and last minute preparations for leaving tomorrow. Our flight home leaves at 1 pm so we have to be on the Metro headed to CDG by 9. I’m actually pretty excited about going home, even though this summer has been incredible! I still don’t think it’s fully sank in that I spent my summer studying/traveling around Europe. It was a dream come true and I will never forget this summer!

I never knew coach buses could move like that Wednesday, Jul 15 2009 

Our last full day in Galway, Wednesday, was spent on another tour, this time to Connemara and Cong. This one was just as beautiful and informative as the Cliffs of Moher were.

We met up with the coach just like Tuesday morning and we set off on our journey. Connemara is even more in the Irish countryside than the Cliffs were and therefore even more beautiful. Along the way we saw many ancient buildings and stoneworks, further amazing me by capabilities of the Irish people before technology. Go them. One of the highlights of the trip was the stop in the tiny village of Cong, the location for the old movie The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I took lots of pictures because I know just how jealous Dad will be when he reads this. I wish we’d had more time there because then I would have gone in the museum/gift shop. I never realized just how many movies are filmed in Ireland but so far we’ve seen the sites of at least 5 movies.

Practically everything in Cong is dedicated to the memory of the movie that was filmed there.

Practically everything in Cong is dedicated to the memory of the movie that was filmed there.

In order to see all these beautiful and picturesque little sites we had to take the most narrow, rocky country roads. Keep in mind we were in a huge passenger coach…on twisty roads…with lots of sharp turns. The skill of our driver amazed me and I swear that coach had to have had a hinge in the middle to make some of the turns we did. Strangely enough, the only things that held us up were the sheep (they liked to cross right in front of us without warning) and the cycle race that was tearing through the country. Those guys were impressive as all get out. I could never imagine riding my bike in that country, let alone as fast and agile as they were about it. I did make the other girls laugh a little though because I was climbing the rocks and scrambling about to get better pictures. I guess I just channeled my inner mountain goat.

Irish hills and lakes, I'm beginning to think there's nothing more beautiful.

Irish hills and lakes, I'm beginning to think there's nothing more beautiful.

The Twelve Ben Mountains with their sides covered in stone fences built during the potatoe famine.

The Twelve Ben Mountains with their sides covered in stone fences built during the potatoe famine.

The few post and wire fences around are meant to keep the livestock of one farmer from mixing with that of another. Most farmers don't care, they just mark their herd and sort them all out in the spring when they come off the mountain for shearing.

The few post and wire fences around are meant to keep the livestock of one farmer from mixing with that of another. Most farmers don't care, they just mark their herd and sort them all out in the spring when they come off the mountain for shearing.

A bike race went through the countryside. Because the roads were so narrow we had to pull off and wait for them to go through before continuing on our way.

A bike race went through the countryside. Because the roads were so narrow we had to pull off and wait for them to go through before continuing on our way.

An old Abbey built in the side of the mountain. Just up the way was a small cathedrale built and paid for by the nuns independently of the monestary.

An old Abbey built in the side of the mountain. Just up the way was a small cathedrale built and paid for by the nuns independently of the monestary.

When we got back in town we ran to the hostel to drop off our bags and then it was to grab a quick dinner before the Harry Potter movie. We were so happy we’d already bought our tickets when we got to the theater because there were signs on the doors saying they were sold out. Because we got there early we even managed to get pretty good seats and I had a lovely conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me. He was there with his teenage children and was very interested in our travels and what we’d seen so far. I like the Irish the best of all the nationalities we’ve met because they’ve been the friendliest, most welcoming of all. I’ll be sad to say good-bye to this lovely place in the morning. Someday I’ll come back when I can spend more time here. For now though I need to go pack and get ready to fly to Paris in the morning. Hopefully this flight goes better than our last one with RyanAir…

Beware the sheep-cows Wednesday, Jul 15 2009 

Amazingly enough Tuesday morning, all 4 of us girls woke up and showered and got ready with plenty of time to spare before we had to meet the bus for our tour. We found a great deal where we could book two day tours for under 40 euro and see most of the country around Galway.

Our first tour was to the Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding countryside. Most of you may know the Cliffs of Moher as the “Cliffs of Insanity” from The Princess Bride because the movie was filmed here. The tour took us through the countryside towards the cliffs and the entire morning was just spent seeing the beauty of Ireland. We stopped at a few fairy dales but didn’t see any fairies and we saw a few old cemeteries with ancient celtic crosses. Again-just beautiful!

Fishermen in the river on the edge of Galway. I don't know what they were fishing for, there were no fish in that water.

Fishermen in the river on the edge of Galway. I don't know what they were fishing for, there were no fish in that water.

The city of Galway as seen from across the bay on our way to the Cliffs of Moher.

The city of Galway as seen from across the bay on our way to the Cliffs of Moher.The Irish countryside, complete with wandering horses.

It's no wonder the ancient Celts thought the land here held magic, just looking at it can put in you a trance with its beauty.

It's no wonder the ancient Celts thought the land here held magic, just looking at it can put in you a trance with its beauty.

The actual cliffs were after lunch and they were just breathtaking. I really wish I could put up my pictures to show you people but that’ll come soon enough. Just imagine black, slick cliff faces more than 700 feet high with the stormy, tempest-ridden Irish sky above and the deep blue and green Atlantic Ocean below. I never really thought of Ireland having beaches or mountains but that certainly is the case. It’s the most amazing juxtaposition of the two geographies I’ve ever seen. This part of the country is also still really rural so we could see all the little field full of horses and sheep and cattle, the other girls were very amused by the cattle and had to stop to take pictures. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up in the city and never see livestock up close.

Storms were rolling in all afternoon over the Ciffs of Moher.

Storms were rolling in all afternoon over the Ciffs of Moher.

The rolling hills around the Cliffs. You would never imagine that the Atlantic Ocean is less than 30 yards away.

The rolling hills around the Cliffs. You would never imagine that the Atlantic Ocean is less than 30 yards away.

The rolling barley along the Cliffs' edge.

The rolling barley along the Cliffs' edge.

The harsh weather made it all too obvious why so many deaths are reported each year at the Cliffs, strong winds and stormy seas claims the lives of those on dry land and on the water.

The harsh weather made it all too obvious why so many deaths are reported each year at the Cliffs, strong winds and stormy seas claims the lives of those on dry land and on the water.

This is not a beach for sunbathing.

This is not a beach for sunbathing.

Our tour guide was the most adorable little old Irishman named Desmond. He’s been guiding tours for 13 years now so he really knows his stuff and makes the trip fun. He was constantly joking with us, telling everyone to watchout for Ireland’s newest and most dangerous breed of cattle: the sheep-cow. These sheep-cows were mentioned a few times during the day but it wasn’t until we were halfway home that we saw one–it was a llama. Granted they are funny looking animals but a sheep-cow? Desmond also serenaded me on the bus. There was Irish music playing all day, including “Galway Girl” and I guess I just fit the description pretty well. The “Galway Girl” has black hair and bright blue eyes and that’s what gets the singer into trouble. I’m learning here that I apparently look quite a bit Irish.

When we came back from the tour we grabbed a quick, hot dinner of soup and then went back to the hostel to try to dry off before going out. It rained off and on all day and sometimes we just couldn’t escape it so we got soaked. Now we know why Ireland is so green. Desmond had told the whole tour about a tavern in Galway that had good prices and live Irish Set Dancing on Tuesday nights so we decided to give it a try.

Sarah wasn’t feeling well so Jaclyn, Katie and I went. We ordered our drinks and were just chatting until the music and the dancing started. None of us were quite sure what Set Dancing was but we soon found out. Its kind of like square-dancing meets swing meets two-stepping all to Irish folk music. We were watching for a while and having fun when an older man (most of the dancers were older) came up and asked if I’d like to dance. I figured why not so I went out on the floor with him. That was the best decision I’ve made this entire trip! It was soo much fun! I was worried my clumsiness would make me a horrible dancer and I’d crash into everyone but I didn’t, my partner was named John Walsh and he was a great teacher/leader. I danced 5 dances with him and loved every second of it. In our little chats along the way he asked me if I had any Irish blood in me and I said yes and he said he could tell walking up to me that I did and he just knew I’d be a good Irish dancer. I don’t know if all that’s true but it was fun and I hope to do it again sometime!!

After the dancing I was exhausted and we needed to come back to check on Sarah so we headed home. Our next day in Galway should be fun because we have another tour and we’re seeing the new Harry Potter movie! Get excited people!

Jaclyn says harp Monday, Jul 13 2009 

Monday morning started way earlier than any morning in Prague did. The breakfast here at Snoozles (our hostel in Galway) is much earlier and shorter so that encourages early rising. We ate our breakfast and then just set out on foot to explore the city.

Galway is very friendly and adorable and I am totally in love with it. We just wandered down the same little streets where we ate dinner on Sunday when we got in and this time we were able to explore the shops more because they were all open for business. On our adventures we saw lots of traditional restaurants and shops, including several specializing in yarn and knitted goods. I was, of course, in heaven. I hadn’t planned on getting anything on this trip but when I saw the homespun yarn and the amazing price that it was at I was sold. It’s beautiful and warm and I can’t wait to work with it! For lunch we wandered along the riverside and found a really nice little tea/coffee cafe. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was just so cozy, it really made me miss Columbia and my coffee houses. Everything was so bright and welcoming, our table was the perfect still-life, I think I took a million photos of it.

The girls' cranberry tea in the bright red tea kettle.

The girls' cranberry tea in the bright red tea kettle.

My coffee and the shiny tea kettle again.

My coffee and the shiny tea kettle again.

The amazing tomato/red pepper soup and the tea kettle. Our table looked like it jumped out of an 18th century painting.

The amazing tomato/red pepper soup and the tea kettle. Our table looked like it jumped out of an 18th century painting.

From there we wandered along the river and looked at the gorgeous coast line and the swans swimming in the water. There was an old cathedral along the way that we stopped in at too. Before we knew it we were back on our side of the town, Galway is so small we walked across the whole city in one day. On the way back to the hostel we stopped at a grocery store and bought some pasta and sauce to make our dinner, along with a yummy looking chocolate cake from a bakery (it wasn’t as good as a French pastry but it was pretty good).

After dinner we decided to go find a pub and try a real Guinness since we are in Ireland. The desk clerk at the hostel gave us some suggestions on pubs and we set off to find one of them. I was actually surprised to find that I liked the Guinness, I think of all the beer I’ve tried in Europe it’s been the best. Good to know. The pub also had some really cool live Irish music so we stayed just to hear that. It was a really popular pub and before we knew it we had some new friends sitting with us. We met Lorraine and her boyfriend (we don’t remember his name) and their friends Johnny (who’s name was really Patrick) and Mike (he was obviously the wingman). They were all interesting and made the night hilarious! They were harmless, but at one point Johnny decided he was going to kiss either Jaclyn or Katie and they were going to flip a coin to decide who. Euros in Ireland have the number on one side (that’s heads) and a harp on the other. Jaclyn couldn’t follow the accent so Johnny decided she called harp… Jaclyn won but never paid up. Our new Irish friends were sad to see us leave but we have a tour in the morning so we had to head out. Maybe we’ll see them again later this week, then again we may find a different pub…

We don’t need no stinkin’ stamps…o wait, yes we do Monday, Jul 13 2009 

Sunday morning got off to a great start when we left the hostel/apartment in Prague to head to the airport. The bus we needed when we got off the Metro took forever to pick us up, even though we could see it just sitting in the parking lot. From there we got to the airport and started the check-in process. When Katie and I tried to check-in the woman at the counter told us that we could just go straight to the gate because we weren’t checking any luggage, super. So Sarah checked her bag and we all set off for security. Security wasn’t a problem, we got our passports stamped without any problems and then we went to our gate to board the flight: problem. Apparently on RyanAir (the small European airline we were taking) non-EU passengers have to have a stamp from the check-in counter on their boarding pass or no dice. The woman at the check-in counter screwed us over. So Katie, Jaclyn and I then had to run like crazy back through the airport, out through security, back in, go to check-in, go through customs again and we barely made the flight. We weren’t too happy.

Once we made the flight though everything was good. We landed in Dublin and got a bus to Galway just fine and got to see some beautiful scenery along the way. I swear Ireland is the prettiest place we’ve visited this whole summer. The grass was so green it almost seemed to glow and it really did look like something out of a picture with the stone fences and the hills dotted with cattle and sheep. It really made me a little bit homesick but I can’t wait to explore it some more.

When we got to Galway we checked into our hostel, which is a convenient 5 minute walk from the bus station. We explored the area a little and got some dinner and then just relaxed in the hostel. It was a pretty great evening and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week!

Sitting on a cornflake Sunday, Jul 12 2009 

Saturday morning I think we did the best at waking up and getting around. We didn’t have any definite plans so we were a bit more relaxed and able to take our time getting ready before heading out to our last day in Prague.

After breakfast we made a short list of the things we wanted to see in Prague before leaving. Re-visiting the Prague gardens around the castle, the John Lennon wall and the Petrin Tower were all on the list. By consulting the map we decided to start with the wall and then visit the other sites. We were a little off in how far the wall was from the Metro stop so we actually started at the gardens. They were beautiful and we took about 60 more pictures of the same view of the city. Granted, it is a beautiful view of a beautiful city but I think we just might have a few too many pictures (I’ll have some up as soon as I get home!). The gardens were so pretty and really fun to explore, but the Czech weather got the better of us and it started to rain after about 45 minutes. This time we only had 2 umbrellas so we left pretty quick. Czech weather is pretty tricky and by the time we made it down the hill to the street the rain had stopped.

Prague Castle sitting on top of the hill overlooking the city.

Prague Castle sitting on top of the hill overlooking the city.

The view of the city from Prague Castle.

The view of the city from Prague Castle.

Since we were pretty close we went to the Lennon wall. I had seen a little picture in the guide book and immediately decided I had to see it. The wall is a continually changing memorial to John Lennon and the Beatles and the impact/change they had on the world. After Lennon’s assassination, Czech citizens began leaving favorite quotes and other tributes on the wall. Today it is still possible to visit the wall and write something special to you. Seeing that wall was my favorite part of Prague and I never cease to be amazed by the impact those men had on the world. Their songs were a little glimmer of hope in a very scary and dark time. They were so diverse in their music and managed to touch so many people in so many countries in so many generations all over the world. It’s amazing to me.

One of the many elaborate tributes to the Beatles on the Lennon Wall.

One of the many elaborate tributes to the Beatles on the Lennon Wall.

I left my mark on Prague.

I left my mark on Prague.

When we left the wall we went to find some lunch. Choosing an eating place is always a little tricky because we all have different wants in a restaurant. We finally found one and all had goulash… again. It was good as usual but it was still goulash. From lunch we went on to Henry’s Bell Tower, the last major Prague monument to see (other than Petrin Tower, which we skipped because of the rain)  but it wasn’t really anything special. The best part of the bell tower was it’s proximity to our apartment so it was easy to hop on the tram and go home for a bit. Jaclyn, Katie and Andres ran to the grocery store for a few things while Sarah and I just chilled in the apartment and did some packing before dinner.

The others came back and we all headed out for dinner. Because the Czech food is pretty heavy and we’d been having a lot of it we decided to go to a pizza place pretty close to the apartment and we were all glad we did. The pizza was delicious, I got jalapenos on mine and it was amazing, I’ve really been missing spicy food! The others all got genuine Budweiser beer, which actually originated in the Czech Republic. I never knew that it wasn’t an American beer, I guess you learn something new every day.

Originally we’d planned on going out for our last night in Prague but instead we decided to stay in and hang-out because we didn’t want to risk missing our flight in the morning. We all just drank some wine and goofed around, definitely having a good time. Prague has been a blast and I’m a little sad to leave but Ireland is going to be just as much fun!

Have you seen snow? It’s white Friday, Jul 10 2009 

Friday morning we all managed to wake up at a decent hour despite hitting snooze about 30 times. We’d decided to go on “The Ultimate Tour of Prague” we’d seen in a pamphlet so we ate breakfast really quick and set off.

The tour met in King Wenceslas Square and the ticket man was very impressed with Andres for traveling with 4 girls alone. We all just laughed because he’s been getting that a lot. The tour was totally worth the money and we got it at half price! Our guide was incredible and he really knew his stuff about Prague, but then again he was a native Czech. I loved seeing all the architecture and learning all the history. I now know why it was called the Velvet Revolution again the Communists (because it went smoothly and no blood was shed) and why the metronome is on such a giant platform (it used to be the site of the world’s largest statue of Stalin before it was torn down after he was declared a war criminal). Every day I’m hear I just learn more about this city and love it a little more. The tour included a boat tour on the Volta River and a traditional Czech meal, as well as seeing the Prague Castle from the outside. We didn’t get to go in the castle but we got to go in the chapel and I think it easily rivals many of the ones we saw in France. Because it took over 600 years to build (thanks to a long break during the switch from Catholicism to Protestantism) it has many modern touches from the 1920s when it was completed, including Art Deco stained glass windows.

After the tour we came back to the apartment to relax for a little bit before going on the Ghost Tour that was included with our ticket for the Ultimate. As great as the Ultimate was is as horrible as the Ghost tour was. Our guide was a moron and couldn’t tell a single story without making all of us bust out laughing. Everywhere we went she stammered and stalled, attempting to make the stories longer, we soon realized this was so her accomplice could change into costume to jump out and scare us. I swear at one point we were standing in a passage way and she was describing the “cold, dark winter” to us and asked us if we’d ever seen snow and when the Australians in the group said only in movies she told them it was white. Gee really?

The tour lasted an hour, thank goodness, because any longer would have killed us and then we would have started haunting Prague. Afterwards we found a nice little pub/restaurant for dinner and really enjoyed the meal. Czech food is definitely growing on me but it’s definitely a heavy cuisine. When we left the pub, in the rain again, we just came back to the apartment. Katie was really disappointed in the Ghost tour so we decided to tell our own ghost stories. Luckily for me, so many years of camp as a child has left me with a ton. We all had a great time, except Jaclyn, who got a little overly scared but fell asleep pretty soon so it was okay. At first Sarah was worried because she’s always hated ghost stories but quickly realized she’s not as scared at 21 as she was at 12. That was a relief. We all had a good time and some good laughs before calling it a night. I hope no one has nightmares!

5 people+3 umbrellas=a wet evening Thursday, Jul 9 2009 

Thursday the gang woke up… eventually to our first day in Prague. I guess the lack of sleep finally caught up with all of us and the super good blackout curtains in the apartment didn’t help, but we all slept into the afternoon. It was lovely.

When we finally all got up and got around we made our lunch in the apartment before heading out to explore the city. Our first stop was Old Town Square. There we saw Prague’s Astronomical Clock, a very elaborate contraption that can tell you the time of day along with about 30 other things, I’m pretty sure it could even take your temperature. Everywhere we looked we could see the beautiful, classic Czech architecture. I don’t think I could ever get tired of seeing these buildings that are centuries old.

One of the many ancient cathedrales in Prague. The city is full of architecutre just like this.

One of the many ancient cathedrales in Prague. The city is full of architecutre just like this.13th century architecture really made me realize just how young the States are and how new all our architecture is compared to everything in Europe.

While we were wandering around the Square we saw St. Nicholas’ Church and found out there was a concert starting in less than an hour. It was really cheap (like everything here) and it was a trio playing some very famous classical pieces, plus it was the only way to get in the church. We bought our tickets and couldn’t have been happier that we did. The group was amazing and the church was beautiful! Classical music is always impressive and these people really had talent. It was really great to hear the music in one of the oldest, most well-known musical cities in the world, the Mozart piece we heard was written right in Prague!

After our concert we wandered across the river to see what we could see. Somehow we wandered into an old garden and found some weird things. Right off the bat we saw an albino peacock, something I’ve only see pictures of. What really made it annoying was that it kept screaming, I hate when peacocks scream, that was the only bad part about staying the night at my grandparents’ when I was little, the neighbors’ screaming peacocks terrified me. The garden also had a really strange artificial dripstone wall. The king at the time (sorry, I don’t remember who exactly) wanted a wall that would be intimidating and terrifying. I think he succeeded a little.

The albino peacock in the gardens. I never would have imagined these birds could be just as beautiful without their colors.

The albino peacock in the gardens. I never would have imagined these birds could be just as beautiful without their colors.

The dripstone wall from the view of Prague Castle.

The dripstone wall from the view of Prague Castle.

Eventually though we were pretty hungry and it was starting to sprinkle so we set off in search of somewhere to eat. We remembered how to get to the restaurant Keegan took us to the night before so we got on the Metro and headed there. Like I said, it was sprinkling when we got on the Metro but when we got off it was POURING. We waited in the station for 20 minutes waiting for the rain to let up. It eventually did but we still got all wet because only Jaclyn, Sarah and I had umbrellas. Oops.

We found a great little Czech restaurant in the same neighborhood and had another wonderful meal. It’s so strange going from the pretty light, summery food in Paris to the heavy, stick-to-your-ribs Czech food. It’s wonderful but I don’t think I could eat it for a prolonged period of time. After our dinner we decided to head home because despite the late wake-up we were getting tired. I think we’ll be tired from this trip for the rest of our lives. Andres really wanted to take the trams so we gave it a try. We managed to take one to a good stop but from there we got confused so we hopped on the Metro instead. The Czech is starting to get to us because we really are walking around this city blind. It’ll be a strange feeling getting back to an English-speaking nation. Overall though I’d say Prague is pretty amazing and I’m really looking forward to the next few days!

Dumplings and goulash and whipped cream, oh my! Thursday, Jul 9 2009 

Wednesday morning Jaclyn and I woke up bright and early to meet Katie, Andres and Sarah to continue on our journey through Europe. Our flight left at 9:20 AM so we needed to be at the airport by 7:20, that was fun. The flight wasn’t too bad, Andres got a little motion sick but not horribly so and we didn’t even have to go through customs when we landed. That made me a little sad because I was wanting another stamp in my passport.

We got transport tickets and found the bus that would take  us into the city to their Metro system to get to our hostel/apartment. On the scale of Metros/underground travel I would rank Prague’s above London’s Tube but a little below the Paris Metro. It must be really deep underground though because the escalators in and out are ridiculous. I’m pretty sure they’re at such a steep grade that no vehicle could make it up and they have to be at least 3 stories and go crazy fast. It was interesting.

When we left the station we found our hostel pretty easily and got checked in. It’s by far the nicest accommodations we’ve had here. It’s more like a small apartment, with two bedrooms with beds for each of us, a bathroom with a shower and a small kitchenette. We were stoked. After unloading our bags we decided to go find lunch and to stop by the small grocery store we noticed along the way to get some food for the rest of the week. Grocery shopping in a foreign country where you have absolutely no grasp on the language is entertaining to say the least. We relied on pictures and basic recognition to make it through but I think we did fine.

By the time we got back to the apartment after shopping, mine and Katie’s friend Keegan, who is studying in Prague for about as long as we were in Paris, was out of class so we gave her a call. She told us she would take us to a traditional Czech pub where we could get good food and then she would show us some fun night activities for the rest of the trip. The dinner was incredible! Keegan doesn’t speak Czech either but way more people here speak English than in Paris so we were fine. We all had goulash, which was really rich gravy with cooked beef, and it came with flour dumplings on the side. The only strange thing was that the beef was topped with whipped cream. I wasn’t so sure about that but it ended up being really really good.

The pub was right down the street from Keegan’s apartment so after eating we went there to meet her roommates. They were super nice too and decided to come out with us for the evening. Keegan and Brooke knew of a really cool club right along the Volga river by the Charles Bridge. This bridge has been around since the 14th century, much like most of the city and the architecture. Even in the dark we could tell just how amazingly beautiful the ancient architecture is. I can’t wait to see more in the daylight!

Keegan ended up showing us two clubs and both were really fun. Between the two we got fried cheese sandwiches, which are apparently a Prague specialty. Just imagine mozzarella sticks on a bun. Catching up with Keegan was a blast, I hadn’t talked to her since school got out and we typically worked together several times a week so we had a lot to chat about. It’s too bad she won’t be around the rest of the week to show us more of the city but she’s taking a trip to Hungary, lucky brat!

So far I’ve got a good internet connection here so I’m going to try to keep up the blog. Because I’m using Sarah’s computer though I can’t upload photos. I promise to get those up once I get home though!

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