From above, the Czech Republic is a gorgeous country full of fields and little villages of red-roofed houses. From the ground, it's even better.
I arrived on Thursday night and went straight out to dinner and pivo at a little restaurant down the street. I realized very early on why Anthony Bourdain eats nothing but pork in the entire Prague episode of No Reservations - these people know their pig. My BLT was perhaps the best I've ever had. And the beer was delicious. And so cheap! Even better.
Friday was a busy day of being productive, and the first thing on the list was getting an adapter and a cell phone. We took the tram to Tescoes (love that they're here) and then had a very confusing conversation with the sales girl at Vodofone. Considering the only words I can pronounce are hello and thank you and she spoke no English, there was a lot of pointing, gesturing, writing down numbers, etc. I'm not sure what I have exactly, other than it's a phone and there must be some minutes on it, though it hardly matters because there are three numbers in my phone and I am with these three people all the time anyway! Then it was on to Billa for some grocery shopping, during which my mind completely blanked, which is why the only things I have to eat are spagetti, some apples, 3 yogurts and some ready-to-eat meals that would be a lot more ready to eat if I understood the directions (thank you Google Translate for helping with that!). And cheese. Lots of cheese. There is a fabulous little cheese shop across the street from Billa (about 3-4 blocks from the apartment), which I can already tell is going to become a big problem. For both the wallet and the waist.
Later that night, we went out for a friend's birthday to a real Czech pub - not touristy, all locals. More great beer at tiny tiny prices. When you go to a pub here, they tally up the drinks on a piece of paper and then you tell them what you had at the end and everyone pays separately. Very different! Then PJ & I continued the party at another bar that was in what essentially amounted to a dungeon. I'm pretty sure we were about 4 levels below ground, but it was really neat. Walked home through Wenceslas Square and grabbed some street food - the sausages looked and smelled amazing, but we both went for the fried cheese sandwiches. Picture a mozzarella stick in patty form, on a bun with mustard. So.Freaking.Good. On paper, it looks disgusting, but at 3am it's perfection.
Saturday was party prep day. Andrew cooked up a big English breakfast (yum, more sausage and bacon... problem.) and we got to getting everything ready. The party was great - I got to meet a bunch of really nice people and it was a lot of fun. Sunday was a day of rest - we trekked over to Palladium, which is a giant mall (where I can tell I will be spending a lot of money very quickly) and got... this is embarrassing... McDonalds. Though I will say that it was the nicest Mickey D's I have ever seen, with an entirely separate cafe section. I got a big kick out of the fact that they sold Caprese salad as one of their options. This truly is a strange, strange land. :)
On Sunday night, PJ and I headed up to the Castle. We got there around 10pm and everything was still open to walk through - and it is stunning. There is no way to explain it without sounding really lame, but the Cathedral and the President's palace and Golden Lane and the fountains and everything are just absolutely gorgeous.
Cathedral of St. Vitus's
Cathedral of St. Vitus's
The Golden Lane
Everything in the Castle district is beautiful and clean and so accessible. When you think that you can essentially ring the doorbell to the president's house while you can barely get within half a mile of the White House, it really hits you. We then strolled down through the district, which is full of tiny little winding streets and boutique hotels and rooftop pubs and little shops and restaurants. We passed a place called Absynthia that was selling cannibus ice cream but decided to pass - can't imagine that tasting too nice! We picked up a pivo from a little tabak (tobacco shop - really tiny convenience stores) - guess there are no open container policies here! From there, we meandered across Charles Bridge and into Old Town Square, where there is a massive memorial set up for the three Czech hockey players who died in a plane crash in Russia on Wednesday. Hockey is the biggest sport in the Czech Republic and it's clear that these men were looked at as national heroes.
Today was finally my day to go to IKEA, where I stocked up on supplies so that I can finally unpack my stuff from suitcases and make it official. I am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the delivery man so that I can start putting everything together!
That's my trip so far. Tomorrow I am venturing out alone, so it should be quite interesting. And confusing. And fabulous. And overwhelming. I'm armed with my maps and my guide book and my list of useful phrases PJ wrote out for me, so wish me luck!
Todays Czech word is: Nákupní(Shopping, of course!)