Da Lagoon and Vicenza

23 04 2011

Spent the day in the “city of canals/masks/bridges/etc”. It was packed with tourists, but we managed to escape the masses and roam around viewing quiet neighborhoods filled with ancient Italians (seriously, how do they live so long?). Gondolas slowly drifted throughout the canals carrying couples and families as well as over-sized groups. We found the cultural and political center of the city, St. Mark’s Square, where huge lines formed to enter the Basillca di San Marco.

While in the square, we learned of the city’s constant struggles with daily flooding; hardly a side note to life in the city.  On a more positive note, classic views emerged turn after turn while wandering along the Canal Grande, including the famous bridge, Ponte di Rialto.

Random Canal

Sweet View of Canal Grande

St. Mark's Square

After strolling through random neighborhoods and shops in Dorsoduro, San Marco and Castello, we stopped for lunch and then continued our venture to the San Polo area.  A few hours later, we stopped along the Canal Grande and took a break to enjoy the view while sipping on some classic cocktails (by the way, the Bellini was invented here).

Park

Looking towards San Marco

Later, we decided to head over to Vicenza and meet up with Lisa. We caught the ferry and grabbed our belongings. A short bus/train ride later, Andrew picked us up from the station and off we went. In the evening we hung out with Lisa, Andrew and Savannah.

Now to complete some more applications and figure out where the next place to go will be. We should know hopefully by the middle of next week where we will be working and when we start. Then either off to tour Europe for a few weeks or directly to southeast Asia.

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Train-bus-sprint-wait-plane-sprint-bus-wait-bus-ferry

22 04 2011

It’s 9:47AM and I’m sprinting down terminal C at Ruzyne Airport in Prague. Gate closes at 9:50. The metro transfer took longer than expected, as did going through security. Following a thorough rub down, I begin desperately searching for the right gate. One minute to go. I arrive gasping for air, and notice that no one is in line. There isn’t even a plane. Then randomly, a man sitting directly in front of me turns around and says, “The plane to Venice was delayed”.  I would have made it on time for the record.

Thus started the epic trip from Prague to Venice. It was supposed to be an hour flight coupled with an hour bus ride. We left at 8AM and arrived at our hostel at 6PM. The flight was delayed a moderate 3 hours, and was a quick and turbulent ride. Once on the ground we exchanged our currency and hurried out to catch the bus. About forty minutes later we arrived at Mestre Station and booked another ticket to Fusina. While we patiently waited for the number 11 to arrive, we glance over and notice all the buses driving straight by the “stop”. Upon further investigation, where you buy the ticket is not actually where the buses arrive. After walking around the corner, and two blocks down the road, we notice the actual bus stop. An hour later the next bus arrives and we are on our way.

Once at Fusina, we check into our hostel and get on the ferry to Venice. We roamed around for about an hour and a half and then took once of the last ferry’s back to the hostel. It was a long day of travel, but we are finally in Venice. More to come in the upcoming days.





Czeching Out

21 04 2011

Last day in Prague. I spent the morning arranging my flight with Wizz Air (yep, that’s an official airline) to Venice and applying for some more jobs in Asia. Landed a Skype interview with an agency in Thailand later in the week and heard back from a few other schools scattered throughout Asia.

We decided to leave a day early due to flight plans. Heading to Venice, Italy for a few days, then meeting up with my cousin Lisa and her family in Vicenza. Figure we will stay with her for a few days and then off to the next place, wherever that may be.

Later in the afternoon Scott and I visited Prague Castle. If you are ever in Prague, please pay the 160 crown and walk to the top. The castle is already located on a hill, so when you reach the top, a majestic 360 degree view of Prague awaits. I wish I had seen it the first day in Prague instead of the last.

Afterwards, we walked over to the neighborhood of Andel and met up with Katherine, a friend who completed the class with us, and Barbara for dinner. Barbara is the girl who convinced me to move out of the US and give the course a shot. I owe her. Thanks Barbara, you’ve been awesome.

Once home, Josh (another friend from the course) and Katherine came over to our place and had a few beers while we packed up our lives into our respective bags and backpacks. Katherine is leaving for Copenhagen tomorrow afternoon. Josh just moved to another district in Prague. It’s sad to see all these cool people disperse, but I’m sure our paths will cross again.

Note – Please travel with a little as possible. Rule of thumb: pack what you “need” and then cut that in half. That should fit into a normal size backpack.

Oh yea, and for food, these are a must while in Prague: a brat in Winceslas Square (reminded me of the street vendors in Seattle who serve a unique, but equally delicious hot dog topped with cream cheese and grilled onions), grilled cheese, goulash and dumplings washed down with a Gambrinus, and a wonderful little treat called Trdelnik. Seriously, the last one is amazing. It’s a traditional pastry from Slovakia made of rolled dough, wrapped around a stick, grilled over an open flame and topped with a sugar walnut mix. YUM!

You know you want one.

I’m off to finish packing and get some rest before leaving for Italy. Prague has been an absolute blast and I will always cherish my time here. I would recommend this beautiful city to anyone, and if you want to know some fun places to go, just ask.





What’s next? Tourist Time!

19 04 2011

Weeks of writing lesson plans, one-to-one sessions (with your own personal Czech student), grammar presentations and more details on lexical and phonological methodology than one could ever desire have finally come to an end. Post graduation confusion seems to have set in quickly with the ever-present uncertainty of what life holds in store. Annual contracts made it difficult to commit to a location, and in return, new plans begin to emerge daily. As most know, the intention was never to leave Prague. So why am I?

Moving away from the comforts of Seattle was a difficult decision. For all of the excuses I might have given, there was one underlying reason: I was stuck. Something I told myself would not happen again; and so I moved.

I had found out about TEFL Worldwide, Prague through a college friend who completed it a few years prior. One of my best friends jumped on board with the idea immediately and off we went. I should have known Prague wasn’t going to satisfy what I was trying to find. Do I regret the decision? Not a chance. The program was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. The friends I made in Prague are awesome and I will miss them. However, its time to move on.

Party time

As a wise friend said, the best thing I have going for me is there is no plan. I mentioned in the last post that southeast Asia is on the top of the list. Thailand and Vietnam have a number of 5-6 month summer programs that are looking appealing and for now that’s where I think I’m going. Who knows, there’s a good possibility that could change, but for now it seems solid.

We have until Friday with an official place to stay in Prague and then the true adventure begins. Lisa is close, relatively speaking, and I am going to visit her before I leave the region. Until then, it’s tourist time in Prague.

Scott, Katherine and I spent all day yesterday wandering around Prague. Below are some pictures of the cool places we saw. More to come soon.

Memorial for all those who lived under communism.

Build in 1600 for Italian artists. Still technically property of the Italian government.

Lenin Wall

Resembles a pair of dancers - Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Czech Senate in Wallenstein Gardens

Wallenstein Garden

Restaurant view of Prague





Climbing, live football and grammar!

14 04 2011

The past week has been a busy one. I have managed to visit a few climbing gyms, see my first European football game, and master the English language. Okay, the last one is not entirely true, but I can honestly say I have learned a great deal.

Rock climbing gyms in Prague and difficult to find. After walking through an auto shop and hesitantly walking down an alley not friendly in broad daylight, I was able to find a blank door with a buzzer. Hit the buzzer and a giant gym with a restaurant emerges. The other gym was below ground in an apartment building. Both doors on the sides led directly to tenants.

Monday evening we were able to get tickets to one of the most popular football games in Prague. It was a rival match between AC Sparta and  SK Slavia. Upon arriving, we found some reassuring riot police.

Both men and horses were in full armor... kind of terrifying.

Packed in with the masses, we entered the stadium and found our seats. The game itself was over basically in the first 15 minutes, with Sparta taking a 2-0 lead, however the atmosphere was quite the opposite.

Sloppy play, but fun atmosphere!

Cheers continuously permeated the stadium. Slavia fans lit flares and threw them around the stadium in a desperate attempt to rally their team. Although unsuccessful, it was entertaining to watch them create mass chaos inside of their caged sections.

Right after this they started dropping the flares on the people below.

Following the game, we took in Old Town Prague in all it’s glory. Here are a few pictures from the evening.

The course is almost done with tomorrow being our last day of class. I have an interview on Monday with a company teaching business English to professionals throughout Prague. However, I am not sure if Prague is really where I see myself settling down for the next year or so.

I’ve been looking into southeast Asia and plan on applying to some jobs throughout the region this weekend. Monday is technically our last day at the apartment, however we are trying to negotiate another week. We possibly might have a month to month apartment beginning on monday as well. If neither pan out, we have multiple friends who offered a place to crash until we figure it out. Should be fun.

If anyone has suggestions or knows people in southeast Asia that I can contact, I would greatly appreciate it. All are welcome. And now I’m off to finish my final assignment for the course!





Baby Tower

5 04 2011

I am fortunate to live in Prague. And I have connections. So, in my free time, I have been meeting new people who have been kind enough to show me the town. Friends of friends and friends of their friends have revealed new sections of Prague to me just about daily. It’s brilliant.

The more I explore, the more I want to delve deeper. There is only one problem.  I can’t find my way back from where I started most of the time. I have accepted that I will never be able to honestly give directions via street names to anyone in regards to the area. If you think I’m joking, just Google Maps downtown Prague, then try to get somewhere a mile away.

Stunning architecture located in the center of town constantly attracts enormous crowds daily. And I know people don’t want to keep seeing rooftops, or hearing about them, so I am holding off on the pictures until I get some quality ones with actual, real people in them; hopefully this upcoming week. What’s next on the list to see? The Žižkov Television Tower, or as some call it, the Baby Tower.

Per wikipedia, it was voted the second ugliest building in the world. The first day I was in Prague I noticed the tower standing in the distance remarkably taller than the rest of Prague’s distinguished skyline. It is a radio tower which looks like a launch pad for NASA. It’s pretty ridiculous. Why is it called the Baby Tower? Well there are giant baby sculptures crawling all over it; I don’t know why yet but hope to get back with you about it.

In other news, we are a now half way done with the course, otherwise known as grammar boot-camp. Everyday I come home, and I mention to my friends something along the lines of, “I can’t believe I made it this far in life and I never knew that.” If nothing else, I must say that this class is making me better at writing. Oh yea, and I’m getting good at teaching as well (but I guess these both are still debatable).

The past weekend I began looking for a place to live. It looks as if there will be four of us moving in together, yet no one really know where or when. The game plan is to move around Prague 2, an area that is easily accessible and fun. A main component is we want it to be near where we will be working.

Oh, and yea, the whole job thing. Started looking a few days ago and getting a list together of where I can go and teach. I recently found out from a girl I met here last week that one of her friends gives English cycling tours in the summer. Since most schools usually take a break in the summer, and the teaching hours will probably be minimal, I am trying to figure out how to get involved so I won’t spend all summer doing these awesome grammar lesson plans 🙂