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3 posts from November 2011


Field Trips and Out Classes

By Elizabeth Kachavos, Georgetown University


As an Art History and English major, there were plenty of classes that I knew I wanted to take while I was here in Prague.  This semester I’m enrolled in Modern Czech Art, Contemporary Czech Culture, Art and Architecture of Prague, and Modern Czech Literature in addition to Czech Language.


My favorite part about my classes is the “out” classes, or the times when our classes meet out in the city rather than at the study center.  On Wednesdays I only have Modern Art then Art and Architecture, and both of them are out classes that day, so basically I spend my entire class day touring the city (and it doesn’t hurt to not have to go into school that day!).


For example, one Wednesday I met up with my Modern Art class at the Golden Ring Gallery in Old Town Square to see some contemporary Czech art in this exhibit called “After Velvet”, and right afterwards I headed across the square to the Old Town Hall which I toured with my Art and Architecture class.


Some of my favorite places I’ve been with my classes are Jewish Town and the House of the Black Madonna.  In Jewish Town we saw many synagogues, including the Old-New Synagogue, an early Gothic building, as well as the Spanish Synagogue, a really gorgeous building with ornate, arabesque decorations.  We also saw the Old Jewish Cemetery, which was really cool.  At the House of the Black Madonna we discussed the design of the building (it is one of the finest examples of Cubist Architecture, a style only found in the Czech Republic).  We also went to the Museum of Czech Cubism, which is housed inside the building.


For my other classes we’ve done things out in the city too.  In Modern Lit we did a walking tour of Mala Strana, and stopped by all the places that were mentioned in the literature we had read.  And for Contemporary Czech Culture class, we went on a field trip to Těšnov, a legal graffiti site in Prague.  We also saw this awesome new Czech movie called Alois Nebel.  The film is about a Czech railway man living during the time of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 who is haunted by past memories following World War II.  The film was created using rotoscope animation, a technique where real actors are used in the initial filming, but the scenes are animated afterwards.  The film was really visually cool, and it is the Czech Republic’s submission to the 2012 Academy Awards for “Best Foreign Language Film”.


Anyways, school has been busy lately because of midterm week and some presentations that I’ve had to do for classes.  Luckily I’ve been able to fit in some sightseeing in Prague as well as travels outside of the city (which I’ll talk about in a later post!)    


So I never made it to Berlin this weekend and instead spent my time in good ol’ Praha.  Considering I was one of the four people on my program that didn’t go away for the weekend, I decided to do a little exploring around my city mainly alone.  And I learned something very valuable:  Mexican food in Prague is nothing like Mexican food at home, especially burritos.  Friday I spent my evening at a Latino Food Festival.  Though the music was fun, I’m not sure the 100 CZK entry fee was worth it.


On Saturday I made an excellent discovery.  And, like many great discoveries, it happened by accident:  I found out where to buy Gatorade and Powerade in Prague!  After searching for weeks I managed to stumble upon both of them the same day.  From what I know thus far, Gatorade can only be purchased at Subway and Powerade at any Relay located inside the metro.  Yes!  So proud of myself on that one. 


But that’s not all for my Saturday.  I also attempted to go to yet again another wine festival (surprise!).  This festival was said to have primarily plum wine and other foods/beverages made from plums.  Well, I’d love to tell you it was an amazing time except for the fact that I never was able to find it.  I searched all over Petrin (where it was said to be happening) and when I couldn’t find it I just decided to climb the tower.  A very good decision:


A long walk up but definitely worth it.


 I’m in love with this city.


Afterwards, after a quick glass of burčak at the bottom of the tower, I left for a flea market on Americka street.  Well, what was said to be a flea market turned out to be another Mexican food festival (arriba!).  I learned my lesson the first time and didn’t buy any of the food, though I must admit it looked a lot better than the food on Friday.  They also had hummus!  The first time I’ve seen it in Prague!  I also managed to watch the sunset near Charles Bridge.


It was beautiful.


Sunday was also relaxing, misleading and full of new discoveries.  I was supposed to go to a “Pig Slaughter” (I hope it means what I think it does), but when I finally found the place the “slaughter” ended up being your average barbeque.  Apparently it is the tradition in the Czech Republic to slaughter a pig every winter.  However, as my Czech Buddy Bara puts it, pig slaughters are just an excuse for older Czechs to get very drunk.  Since the Sunday slaughter wasn’t a traditional one, she invited me to the slaughter in her little village in Moravia.  I’m not sure when it takes place, but some time in the middle of winter.


Overall, though, Sunday wasn’t a complete waste.  The “slaughter” aka barbaque was held in Zlute Lazne which is actually a bar/beach.  I’m glad I explored that area a bit because now I’m definitely returning for some tropical drinks and sand volleyball. 


Also on Sunday I went to 2 art galleries with Bara:  Museum of Young Art and an Architecture exhibit whose name I can’t really remember.  Both exhibits were very interesting and I learned all about David Černý, famous controversial Czech artist and sculptor.  His works are all over Prague and they’re actually quite amazing.  I highly recommend looking him up to see some of his work!


The highlight of the whole weekend, however, was the Slavia versus Sparta fotbal game.  I was told to cheer for Slavia by a number of my bias Czech friends and so I did.  Well, my team lost 0-3.  The game was still very exciting, despite Sparta’s not so PC cheers against Slavia.  People got very rowdy; you should have seen the police.  Some people even though it was a good idea to throw sparkles onto the field.


Smoke= Goal scored by Sparta


 The sparkler on the field.


And today, I went Paddle Boating (for the second time actually, but this time I had my camera).


 It was so nice outside, I don’t want winter!


This coming weekend I have plans with Bara and Carly to go to Vienna with Bara’s family for design week.  Should be very interesting.  Tell you all about it once I return.


Na Shledanou,


A Hezký Víkend in Český Krumlov

By Lesia Witkowsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison

A nice, relaxing weekend well spent in the beautiful small town known as Český Krumlov.


So this weekend was a CIEE trip to Český Krumlov in Bohemia.  It was for the history classes, but I decided to go anyway because I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about the little town.  And it was pretty picturesque.


Český Krumlov


The first day we walked around a bit, saw the castle and climbed to the top to get an aerial view of Český Krumlov.  We watched a video inside the castle that showed pictures of how Český Krumlov looked like in the past.  In my opinion, not much has changed.  Český Krumlov reminds me of a summer home that people visit to escape busy city life.  Except extremely touristy.  There were literally penzions (small, locally-owned hotels) on every street corner.  Bara told me that in the summers her family would raft into Český Krumlov.  And since it’s also located along the Vltava it is even possible to get to Český Krumlov from Prague.  Overall it takes about 5 days, but I can imagine it’s pretty fun to just float and camp every night.  I wish the weather were warmer/I wish I had 5 days to spare to enjoy a little adventure down the Vltava.


There was a rafting/canoeing competition that day


And afterwards we had free time in which my friends and I decided to do a little shopping (I finally bought a new pair of mittens which I’m very excited for).  And afterwards we went to dinner at a place called Jail.  Apparently, like the name cleverly suggests, it used to be a jail.  It was decorated in a very medieval way that made me feel like I’ve gone back in time.  They also cooked their meals on one large grill.  I got the half chicken and it was delicious (but nothing will ever beat Oktoberfest chicken).  When dinner was over we went to a little bar called Horror Bar.  It was very Halloween appropriate complete with real life teenage Goth kids.  They loved the Dracula room.


The next day we walked around a bit more in Český Krumlov, saw the old Baroque theater, the Photo Atelier Seidel exhibit, and the Egon Schiele Museum.  My favorite part of the day, though, was my free time spent in the castle gardens.  I also discovered another great beer in Český Krumlov:  Eggenberg Dark.  It’s like Guinness but maybe a bit better.  Too bad it’s brewed only locally in Český Krumlov.  I sadly may never encounter it again.


Castle Gardens: fall is here!


There was even a small romantic pond


On Sunday we had a tour of the Bohemia Regent Brewery and headed back to Prague.  It was good, but no Eggenberg. 

And tonight is one of my friend’s birthdays so I’m off to I.P. Pavlova for dinner.  I’m also going to Forum 2000 tomorrow so check out my blog in a few days to hear all about that.


Na Shledanou,