Goulash

INTRO
First, I’d like to apologize to my readers (most likely there are only 2 of you, but still) for taking so long to post. The thought of taking everything I’ve done and then trying squash it all into a couple of paragraphs on a web page kind of feels like an injustice to everything I’ve experienced. Even so, I’ve decided that today will be the day that I can finally crumple up that green sticky note on my laptop that says, “SERIOUSLY, WRITE THE BLOG TODAY” and give everyone a peak at what I’ve been up to. Honestly, I could write novels about my time here but I’ll try to keep these to a reasonable length and will do my best to let you guys in on my time here … enjoy!

A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO…
I think I’ll start this off by taking the time to thank Renee Zellweger and the fictional Dr. Meredith Gray. My entire orientation week was pretty much a hectic blur of names, faces, and “Wait, I’m sorry, what’s your name again?”s. If it weren’t for Bridget Jones’s Diary (a movie that I was a little surprised that pretty much everyone I’ve met has seen) I have a feeling that even my closest friends here still wouldn’t know my name.
For a similar reason I thank Gray. A healthy number of my introductory conversations went something like this:
Friend: “So, Bridget-Jones’-Diary, where are you from in the USA?”
Me: “I’m from Seattle. It’s in the Nor— ”
Friend: “Gray’s Anatomy!!!!”
So, I take my hat off to these characters. Without them, I’m sure no one would know who I am and where exactly I’m from.

TOURIST SIGHTS
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to talk Prague. At the risk of sounding cliché, Prague is the most magical city I’ve ever seen. I could live here for decades and still get lost in all the alleyways and back streets (although that may not mean much considering I could get lost following a straight line.) I’ve spent days touristing around the city and seeing all the sights, so here’s a quick review of some of the more well-known places:

Charles Bridge: A classic, must-see icon of Prague. It’s right on the Charles River so off to one side there beautiful parks and the other has the amazing architecture of Prague’s city center. To note: If you’re actually trying to get from point A to point B, hopping into that river and swimming across might be the faster option as tourists make a point of walking at a snail’s pace in big, impassable groups.

Old Town Square: Another classic destination. Though things tend to be a bit more expensive around here, it’s always worth the visit. And the Clock Tower? The astronomical clock is beautiful and impressive, and watching the hour change is definitely worth seeing. I should mention, though, that the only thing to be gotten out of watching the hour change more than once is probably just being about 200 seconds older and having a slight neck ache from straining to look up.
Wenceslas Square: Here, you’ve got everything. Big book stores, clothing stores, cafes, restaurants, pubs, a beautiful museum at the end, and – best part — two metro stations to get you anywhere in Prague in record time. Because of the great central location and all the fun treats offered, this area is definitely a favorite.

Prague Castle and the Cathedral: If you’re ever in Prague and could only do just one touristy thing, I might recommend this destination. I get goosebumps just thinking about the overwhelming beauty of the cathedral. But take this with a grain of salt: I have a weakness for big, majestic, European cathedrals – so maybe only for an old architecture lover such as myself, the cathedral is absolutely the place to see.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
I could gush for pages about the fabulous public transportation here. For those of you who are interested in visiting Prague, here’s a quick run-down of the system:
Here we have a train, metro, tram, and bus system. For getting around the country, the train system would be your best option. For getting around the city itself, you can choose between the metro, tram, or bus. There are taxis too, but I usually avoid them for fear of being ripped off (which is a valid concern for savvy newbies such as myself.) The metro is pretty easy – there are 3 lines (Green/A, Yellow/B, and Red/C,) and it spans to the far reaches of the city. The trams and busses are also great – they’re pretty fast and efficient, especially if I compare it to the public transportation back home. As a newcomer who doesn’t speak Czech, I would say the trams are easier to deal with than the busses, just because the systems themselves are simpler. Here I’ve added a link to the website that saves my life every day: http://www.dpp.cz.

THE LANGUAGE…
The Czech language is very difficult. According to some websites, not only is Czech one of the harder languages for native English speakers to learn, but it also has the hardest sound for us to pronounce. Behold, the dreaded “ Ř .” Pronunciation is as follows: First, make an R with a rolled tongue, like in Spanish. Stop. Next, make a “shhhhhh” noise, like how the person next to you wants you to do for making these silly noises. Good. Stop. Now, put the two together and add some more throat to it, and voila!

HIDDEN SIGHTS
As much as the classic tourist sights are great fun to see, in my opinion it’s the quirky pubs, restaurants, and cafes in the twisted hidden alleyways that make this city what it is. There are tea rooms on top of water towers, pay-what-you-want restaurants, dozens of themed pubs, and underground maze clubs, just to name a few. Honestly, I will be here for the whole year but I feel like I will never get the chance to see all of Prague’s hidden treasures.

GOALS
Here are some goals for my next couple of posts:
1. Don’t wait so long to write them…
2. Talk more about studying abroad. Learning the language, meeting new people. Culture shock.
3. Write about some of the fun restaurants/pubs/clubs that Prague has to offer.
4. Introduce some of the weekend trips/sights to see in the beautiful Czech Republic that aren’t in the actual city.

A FINAL NOTE
I’d like to say that if anyone out there has any special requests for me – anything from specific information about the country to parts of the city life they want an honest review of, just let me know. I’m happy to accommodate!

All the best,

Brigette

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