hello again blog world, this is shelbs, back in prague for two weeks (got back from poland on monday, headed to venice next weekend). i have some stuff to say! read it! or don’t!
poland was really really cool. we visited krakow, you probably are not familiar, but you should be. krakow was SWEET, i might have liked it better than berlin! it was like prague, but cheaper and with less americans (like me…). we stayed at panda hostel, you guessed it: a hostel with panda items everywhere. we did a tour of old town with a cute polish tour guide (all tour guides in poland have to be polish, weird rule). she made the history of krakow really come alive. we saw the remnants of the city’s fortified walls, the cathedral (famous for having all the polish kings buried in the tombs), some roads where schindler’s list was filmed, the house that Pope John Paul II would stay in when he visited poland (he used to give talks to students by sticking his head out of his window), and a lot of dragons (sort of krakow’s mascot). we also went to a number of restaurants and bars, which were all really awesome for some reason. we discovered some delicious apple beer at the local liquor store, and i drunkenly taught hayley how to play chess. everything was so CHEAP, plus the currency is fun to pronounce (“zloty”).
the coolest thing we did was visit the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Birkenau death camp used during the Holocaust. when i say it was “cool,” i really mean “sobering” and “life-changing.” we walked the streets that the prisoners walked, saw the barracks that they slept in, passed the shooting wall where guards would execute them, stood inside one of the gas chambers that they were brutally mass-murdered in. one of the buildings displayed the sorted items that were stolen from the victims (they were told that they were being “relocated”, and people packed accordingly). one display was a stunningly large pile of children’s shoes. children under 15 were sent immediately to the gas chambers (the mothers, who would normally be sent to the work camp, were often kept with the children to reduce chaos). i could keep writing for hours about this trip, we were told so many chilling and horrifying facts, stories, and statistics. this paragraph does absolutely no justice to the experience.
on a lighter note, the second coolest thing we did was visit the salt mines. hayley and i got to tour the actual mines that were used, 130 metres underground. apparently the salty air we were breathing the whole time is good for sinuses and allergies, which was great because i had a sinus infection! we saw salt lakes, salt statues, salt chandeliers, entire salt churches, all underground. the mines on the tour were transformed into a really touristy attraction; there were salt figures that would light up while a recording would play, acting out some sort of salt mine-related scene. there were literally four chambers that featured souvenir shops (think any souvenir you have every wanted - made of rock salt). hayls and i chose to go on the optional museum tour after the main tour, which was a good and bad decision. it was good because we got to see less-touristy parts of the mine corridors and chambers (they were darker and completely empty except for our group, it was pretty scary at times). we even got to see active stalagmites and stalactites, and hear the complete silence of being that far underground. the bad part was that we were stuck with two weird people that we think were co-workers, they had an odd relationship where the guy was flirty with the girl but she wasn’t having it, plus they sassed our tour guide when she couldn’t understand one of their many stupid questions (she had shaky english and was adorable).
more fun details about our krakow trip:
-my friend chelsea convinced the DJ at a club to play “Like A G6”
-hayley and i used public transportation without paying for it (it works on an honor system), we were horribly nervous the whole time
-i learned how to check for bed bugs in hostel beds (thanks to my sister + google)
-we were drunk by 8 pm on Friday
-i managed to find the train station on the way back all by myself
-hayley and i ate pasta that had been sitting out for a day and a half. we felt fine after. i don’t regret it
-there was a market square outside of our hostel. it hosted a flea market on saturday, and a bird market the day before.
-the flea market sold clothes, the bird market actually sold birds
-i am really scared of birds
thanks for reading! check out the pics below if you’re feelin extra crazy
HELLO BLOG WORLD!
I am a little late for the study abroad blogging train; I have been living in Prague for three weeks now. I’m finally getting my act together, I guess. I am going to skip over the last three weeks, for the sake of time and potential finger-soreness due to typing, and we are all going to pretend like my study abroad trip is beginning now.
Anyways, I just got home from a trip to Moravia. Mauravia? I have no idea how to spell it, if you would like to google it yourself, feel free. I prefer the thrill of the uncertainty, I think. This was a one day, one night trip put on by USAC, my unfortunately-named study abroad program (say it out loud if you’re confused). We had lotz and lotz of fun; let’s start with the bus ride.
Imagine that you are a Czech bus driver. You are rather large and jovial, with silvery-grey hair, and your name is Tony. This is your part of the story telling now, Tony; What is your favorite musical artist?
You guessed wrong, Big-T! Your favorite musical artist is obviously CELINE DION. Tony made us listen to the same Celine Dion album for three hours. I’m gonna type that one more time to make sure I’m not exaggerating and you’re still paying attention. WE LISTENED TO THE SAME CELINE DION ALBUM FOR THREE HOURS.
The group somehow survived this traveling music atrocity and stopped in some little cute town for a Czech Mardi Gras celebration. They hang a dead pig and the town eats it. Seriously. They make a big batch of free pig blood’s soup and people get chunks of the pig to roast. Fun fact: I ate the blood soup. Even more fun fact: I liked the blood soup a lot and ate a second bowl. Am I being adventurous enough? Probably not, I watched 5 hours of online TV today. But at least I can say I ate the soup, and now I know how the first season of Homeland ends.
I have five pictures depicting the progression of the pig’s existence in death. He went from all pig to no pig. The pictures get a little gory, and I just referenced “the pig’s existence in death,” so maybe it’s time for a new subject.
This festival had cheap wine tasting vouchers, so my roommate (Hayley) and I split the cost of 10 vouchers and a wine glass. We tried some awesome wines and I think we ate liver by accident at one point, so that was interesting. Sadly, we forgot our wine glass on the bus (be sure not to drink and drive, Tony!).
This wine-tasting gave us a cool sense of what small Czech towns are like, and also served as a pre-wine tasting wine tasting. The stop at this festival was actually a stop on the way to a nicer and more expensive wine-tasting, the final destination of the trip. There, we stood in some dude’s basement and drank even more wine, but this time we smelled the wine first (that’s what you’re supposed to do, right mom?) Unfortunately it was cold and we were hungry at this point, but they gave us bread (which I had to explain to Hayley wasn’t a snack, it was a palate cleanser, which I know because I am sophisticated and stuff).
We then endured three more hours of Celine Dion on the trip home, this time with a hangover and the smell of Tony’s cigarettes to liven up the ride. We stopped at a small gas station where we watched each other stand in line to use the bathroom, and it was kinda weird.
This whole Moravia/Mauravia trip took place the day after a glass-blowing field trip I forgot to write about at the beginning of this post. Whoops. We traveled to the countryside and made glass vases. And when I say “made,” I mean that hairy half-naked men let me pick a color and design while they dangerously scurried around with crazy-hot glass on the end of giant sticks that they got out of a giant-er furnace. I also got to blow into a tubey thing and turn it, which sounds safe, but it meant I had to stand in close proximity of the aforementioned men and giant furnace. Ugh. But it was a really cool experience overall!
In conclusion, this blog is for my family and friends at home, so shout out to you guys because I miss you all SO much. I will represent mount urr and colli park in Prague though, so don’t you worry.
Keep on the lookout for my next post! Czech ya later! (<— necessary)