Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Just realized I inadvertently made ghoulash for dinner. hehehehehehe

Nom Nom Noms

Very excited to get in on the action in the Food Bloggers Cookie Swap! Very fun concept - just like a regular cookie swap, but with bloggers from all over the world (couple of us here in the ole CR). Now, which type of cookies to bake??? Only have a few weeks to figure it out and get practicing since we all now my track record with the appliances and we do not one of the following to happen...
a) burn down lovely apartment. though might be good opportunity to meet some lovely czech firemen. hmmm...
b) poison all these nice bloggers (bc without them, how will I ever know what to go check out?!?)
c) months of frustration leads to an oven missing a front window. because it's been kicked in. hope you like glass shards with your sprinkles :)

Though, as I am repeatedly reminded on a daily basis here, anything's possible!

Before anyone gets too excited, please note:
This image is in no way indicative of my culinary capabilities.
Though Steph already knows exactly which cookies I'll be making!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

je to pět hodin někde

After going utterly stir crazy after one day of hibernation, I'd had enough and decided it was time to get into the Halloween spirit and do some touristy things. So I grabbed Tristan and we headed out (finally, nice weather!) to the Museum of Torture.

Its a good thing that we decided to have lunch after the museum, because it's every bit as stomach turning as you'd expect (though very clear that the people at Madame Tussaud's have not made their way here yet and haven't bought it out). After learning all about thumb screws and the rack and a whole slew of other gruesome punishments, we checked out the wax museum (250 Kc for both - not bad!). It's unfortunate that I did not know who the majority of the people in there were - my knowledge of Czech historical luminaries is pretty tiny - but was fun nonetheless. Especially when you got to the top floor and there is a seemingly random assortment of people just thrown in there - Bill Clinton, Ivana Trump (No Donald?), some hockey players, Elvis. Not sure what was happening there.

Thankfully it was time to eat so we grabbed pizzas and decided what to do next. We decided on U Fleku, a Czech pub from 1499. Definitely a tourist trap, but completely worth it. It was absolutely packed, but we managed to find two empty seats, sat down, ordered a pivo and downed some Becherovka (I swear, I immediately felt better - maybe there is some truth to the claims!). I was very skeptical about this beer - it was incredibly dark and looked more like cola, but you don't get a choice in the matter so I gave it a shot. And it was delicious! Bottoms up!

Then we just sat back and enjoyed. Well, I did. Tristan jabbered away in German to the people we were sitting with, while I nodded along and laughed when I thought it was appropriate (though they probably thought I was a total nutter), while the accordian player played classic Czech tunes like Home on the Range and When the Saints Go Marching In.

After that, it was back to our trusty Globe for some Gambrinus and a couple games of Heizel (?) and to wait until it was an appropriate time to get to Nebe for some dancing. Had a fabulous time playing Tristan's wingwoman and drinking mojitoes from a Russian hockey team, but am paying for it this morning...errrr... afternoon. 

Now that I have sufficiently procrastinated, it's really time for me to get out of bed and get to work so I can get things done for this week's lessons. Blah. Ciao!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Independent Czechoslovak State Day

Yes, there is a national holiday for a nation which no longer exists (though Slovaks do not celebrate this). October 28th marks the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, and while the country is no longer united, the date is still celebrated as a sign of democracy (until those pesky communists came along). Regardless, a day off work for all of us, which would be fabulous if I wasn't staying in bed battling a horrific cold (made better by yesterday's shopping trip to raid the lékárna of every cold remedy available, and a trip to the grocery store for basic supplies, like Walker's Shortbread Cookies and Lentilky, the Czech version of Smarties/M&Ms. Also, orange juice. For the vitamins.). 

This week I had my first classes. Was incredibly nervous because now not only are these people looking at me expecting me to teach them something (psssht), but they are also expecting me to be able to find these locations, which is asking quite a bit given my abilities regarding directions. Luckily, only had three groups this week - one with 2 people, and 2 one-on-ones. All of my students so far are really great - one of them even worked as an au pair in Summit, NJ (small world!), and another one owns a tiger. Yes, a tiger. As in a giant, incredibly heavy, potentially ferocious wild cat of the jungle (though I was sad to learn that Nina the tiger does not live in Prague, making my chances of getting to meet her much smaller... this does answer my first question however, of where does one keep a tiger in Prague and do you take it for walks?). Everyone has been very nice and things have gone very well, but my schedule picks up a lot more next week (as in quadruples basically), so I have a lot of lesson planning to do this weekend. Lesson planning is incredibly difficult due to the fact that I'm still not very clear on what I'm doing, so it looks like the first few months are going to be a bit rocky! But as long as my students continue to be as fun as they've been this week, I think it should go really well. (Fingers crossed!)

Must stop procrastinating and get down to actually doing some of this lesson planning. Once I make a cup of tea and dig out the Walkers...

Happy Czechoslovakia Day everyone!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Berlin or Bust

It's 4:30am and I am standing in the freezing cold, waiting for the last night tram to shlep me out to Andel for today's trip to Berlin to apply for our visas. It thankfully is only a few minutes late, and I hop on and attempt to not look any of the other crazies riding along with me in the eye. And then it happens...

A few stops in I am joined by a walking gin bottle. Said gin bottle proceeds to sit directly behind me and tap me on the shoulder to ask for a cigarette. When I tell him I don't have any, he says okay. Two minutes later, he taps again. 

"How much vooood it cost me to change my situation viz you?"


"I know my Eeenglish is not so good, but how much voooood it cost for me to change my situation viz you?"

At this point, I am simultaneously horrified while wondering whether I have a very Hollywood-ized mental picture of what a hooker looks like and whether ladies of the night normally wear outfits made to do battle with yetties. 

"Vere is you from?"

"New Jersey."

"Oh, ze place viz ze alligators."

"Umm, no. No alligators. Perhaps you have the wrong word?"

"No, alligators. Like little crocodiles."

"Oh. Still, no."

"Vood you like to see me spin at ze club? I vill give you my facebook information." (Freakin' deejays. Really.)

"No, thanks, I'm alright." 

Thankfully, by this point we are pulling into Andel and he did not get off and follow me. #Winning. Get to school and we pile into a van with a chauffer who clearly missed a calling as a stock car driver and is trying to squeeze it in anyway and set off for Germany. It's absolutely frigid (perhaps our driver was too flushed with excitement to turn the heat on?) and I spend about 45 minutes contemplating how annoyed my fellow TEFLers would be if I grabbed them and forced them to cuddle for the next four hours before nodding off. 

Berlin was very nondescript (our visit, not the actual city). We drove past the remaining piece of the Berlin wall on the way to the consulate, but sadly, that's the extent of our siteseeing. Oh well, next time. 

At least got to see some of what the Czechs like to call "the nature" (aka, the countryside) and it's beautiful. Definitely need to get a weekend away where we go to the nature. Pick mushrooms or something. Fabulous. 

Monday, October 17, 2011


I know it's been fairly quiet on my end, but with the end of TEFL training last week, I was swamped with lesson planning and final projects and job interviews and all of that stuff that I had been convinced I was done with when I graduated MSU. And by Friday, after some very half-assed lessons from our trainers and getting to watch one trainer choke out a fellow student, we were free. After deciding that 9:45am was not an acceptable time to go to the pub and that we needed to find something a little bit more productive, we settled on lattes and strolling through Wenceslas Square and into Old Town. Meandered around a little market full of souvenirs and terrifying witch marionettes that cackle as you pass.

Terrifying. From there, we walked into Old Town, where we passed the Sex Machines Museum. Obviously, had to peek in.

Told me I was frozen. Obviously broken. However, I think a peek is all I will be doing there - anything more is bound to prove horrific. All manner of scary machines and get-ups that are sure to leave mental scars if I actually learn about them. No, thank you.

As one of my fellow TEFLers has somehow managed to live in Prague for a full month and still not have gone to Old Town Square, we headed there and camped out to watch the astronomical clock go off. And since I finally had my camera on me this time, I got to take a picture of that modern art installation I was talking about before. Readddddy for it?

Please let me know if you get it. ;)

Then it was on to lunch, then drinks, then lots and lots of wandering around trying to find the Caledonian Party before finally getting home and snuggling in now that our nice weather is gone. Saturday was spend lounging around watching tv, then going out bowling and to the Big Lebowski for a friend's bday. Sunday was a Burger King breakfast day, followed by more lounging, then football at the Globe (please keep in mind that games start at 10pm due to the time difference)... very late night.

Today I found out I was one of the top TEFLers of the training, so I graduated and got a full-time job offer (wahhhoooooo - in the words of Melissa Gorga, praise Jesus.), made a fabulous dinner for all the roomies (shepherds pie), and am about to settle in for some Big Brother. Have a 5am curtain call on the other side of town to trek to Berlin for visas tomorrow, so I'm off. Ciao for now.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I've survived my first month in the city - hurrrrrah! It feels like I have been here for much, much longer (though not in a bad way!) and I am loving my new hometown. Mostly...


  • It's stunningly gorgeous. Instead of staring at the barriers of 287 each day as I commute, I get to stare at the Vltava and Prague Castle. Can't really beat that.
  • No driving! 
  • I really do like Czech food. Sausages are quite possibly my favorite food of all time. And cheese. Remind me of this when I need a triple bypass in 20 years. 
  • Pivo! Especially at fabulous outside cafes on the river or cozy pubs. Makes it taste much better. 
  • It's cheap! Compared to what I'm used to back at home, it's insaaaaanely cheap.
  • It's very walkable. Everything that looks like you're about to spend hours trekking to really takes 5 minutes, so you can run all over this city in no time flat. Which I do often, largely because I'm lost.
  • There's always something to do. Granted, I have not taken as much advantage of this as I want to, but am about to have a lot more time on my hands, so will start checking things off the list.
  • Mostly everyone has been absolutely lovely as I butcher their language and commit atrocious faux pas and fall in their cobblestones. Tons of interesting people doing interesting things. Huge student population, which is really making me want to go back to school. Probably why I walked away from the expats convention with 9,384,029 flyers about grad school. Question is - for what? Am open to suggestions!
  • The electronic devices in this country drive me bananas. Primarily the washing machine and the vacuum. But the dishwasher comes in at a close third, and then its my cell phone. Agh.
  • No one stop shopping. I miss being able to go to A&P and get my food and shampoo and batteries and screws and make up and everything else. Here I'm running to the grocery store, the DM, the pharmacy, and then usually Tescos because I can't find what I need anywhere else. 
  • Not a lot of places take credit cards and everyone always gives major attitude when I give them a bill higher than 500. If no one will take it, why won't the ATM give smaller bills?!
  • Sneaky waiters who add extra stuff to your bill. It's in the guide books for a reason. Gotcha, jerk. I may not speak Czech but I can still add. 
  • It's reeeeeeeeeally frustrating seeing words that you think you should be able to understand because it's all the same letters, but you have no idea what these words mean or what this giant jumble of consonants even sounds like, let alone what it stands for. It's like your eyes get a massage when you find something written in English in the store. Thank you Neutrogena moisturizer. Thank you.

Had a great weekend of running around Prague. Spent Friday having lunch, hitting the pub and then bowling all over town. Saturday we checked out the ExPat convention where we aimed to get as much free stuff as possible (I got a rubber ducky, a pen, some wine and a day at the gym...), then book shopping, lunch and tea (and beer, naturally) at the good ole Globe (which has quickly become our almost daily hotspot), and then finally a movie at the TEFL house. It's at this point where things start going downhill...

Because the TEFL house is out in the boonies of Prague and public transportation is somewhat limited late at night, I ran to catch one of the last buses out of there around 1am. Get back to Andel, head to the tram stop and only have to wait a few minutes until the trusty #14 comes. Amaaaazing! Hop on, grab a seat, and stop paying attention. At some point about six stops later I realize, "Hey - there's a gas station. A gas station. Holy no. There are no gas stations. Oh. My. God. Where am I?!" Get off in the middle of no where and wait for the next tram, regardless of where it's going as long as it's heading back into town. Get on and ride it back. By now it's after 2. And I need to pee. And it's freezing. This is not going well. In my rush to get home, I think to myself, "Aha! I'll get off at Wenceslas Square and take the metro home." So down the stairs I go until I realize that it's night, the Metro is closed, and I am now dead center of a homeless convention in front of a man with his jeans around his ankles and his boxers around his knees who was thankfully too deep into his inspection of *shudder* to notice me. Power walked like I've never power walked before and ran to the next stop to wait for what I hope is the final leg of my trek home. I finally get in and am able to thaw out a little after 3am - over two hours after I started this expedition. You know - there is something to be said for cabs.

Woke up and spent approximately twenty minutes looking at my TEFL book before I felt it was an acceptable time to have a break. Peej and I set off in search of lunch and Tesco. Had an absolutely delicious lunch of Vietnamese spring rolls and pho ga and then shopped til our arms dropped off at Tesco. I am sorry to say that the most exciting purchase since I have arrived here as been the vacuum that I bought today. I have given up all hope of deciphering how to use the one we have or how to find a bag to go in it. Ohhh, it's a glamorous life I lead. ;0)

Final week of TEFL kicks off tomorrow full of projects and job interviews and morrrrrrre teaching practice and papers and all types of horrible stuff, but then it's freeeeeeeedom! Well, freedom until I find out if I got a job and then spend all my time planning real lessons, but yaaaaaaaaaay! Cannot wait.

Peej has whipped up meatloaf and mashed potatoes for family dinner tonight so I'm off to stuff my face. Ciao!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


There is a rumor going around that Czech beer is so pure, it does not cause hangovers. Let it be known, this is certainly not the case. Unfortunately.