30 June 2005

Na shledanou Praha!

Castle View
Tonight is my last night in Prague and Europe. Decided the most appropriate send-off would be goulash and beer! I am sad to be leaving. I have had so much fun here and I really love Prague. But, I am really excited to be coming home! I promise to do my best catching up with everyone. And, I plan to keep blogging, so if you're still interested in my glamorous non-European life, keep reading. And, I'll finish my Greece and Croatia stories as well. So, hope you've enjoyed my random-ness, stories, and pictures. Will talk to you again soon from a much closer location!

Athens

Day 1_Acropolis
Parthenon
Our boat docked around 5 am and we headed into the city to find our hotel. Dropped off our bags and then headed straight for the Acropolis. We were there fairly early, and got some good views of the Parthenon and the other buildings before the masses of tourists poured in. The Parthenon is amazing, as is the whole Acropolis. They've been restoring all the buildings since 1983_my entire lifetime. A disappointment was that the Temple of Athena Nike had been disassembled and taken to a building for restoration, so we didn't get to see it. In addition to the Acropolis, we also got to explore the other sites associated with it_the Ancient Greek Agora [marketplace], Roman Agora, and Hadrian's Library. We were exhausted and headed back to the hotel. After a minor snag in our hotel reservations [they gave us the shaft], we finally settled in for a nap.
Ancient Agora

Day 2_other ancient sites
Temple of Olympian Zeus
We finished seeing the other sites around the Acropolis like the Theater of Dionysis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Don and I bought some Greek leather sandals. Finished the day with a dinner at a vegetarian restaurant near the Acropolis. Very delicious food.
Acropolis view

Day 3_Olympic disappointment
Athens Olympic stadium
On our first metro ride in Athens, I realized that the 2004 Olympic complex might be fun to go see, as it was designed by Santiago Caltrava, an architect we all enjoy. So today, we decided to ride the metro and go see the stadium. Well, you can't get inside the complex. We took pictures from the outside, and walked around to an area where we could go in a little ways. If these people were smart, they'd charge admission to walk around and see the buildings. Oh well. Made our way to the airport to fly to Berlin.
Athens Olympic stadium

29 June 2005

Crete

So Don & I are back in Prague after our fun little excursion to Greece, Berlin [briefly] and Croatia. It was amazing. In order to share my stories and photos, I'm going to blog in installments. The first of those is our time in Iraklio, Crete_that big island in the middle of the ocean that belongs to Greece.

Day 1_beach and food
Crete
We arrived very early in the morning, checked into our hotel, and decided we would hit the beach right away. Spent several hours there, swam in the ocean, and got a sunburn. Lots of fun. After a nap and showers, we decided to go eat a large Greek dinner. The staff at our hotel were amazingly hospitable and helpful. We asked the lady at our hotel what restaurants she recommended, and she gave us many suggestions. David is a vegetarian, so we asked if the restaurants had veggie-friendly dishes. She said yes, things like squash, stuffed tomatoes, etc. And, just like in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' she suggested that maybe David could at least try some lamb. Very amusing. Around 8:30, we wandered in to a restaurant down the street from our hostel. It was strange at first, because we were the only ones there. No big deal, we order and start to eat our amazing dinner. Around 10:00, the locals start to roll in_this is when we learned, Greeks eat really late. We had finished our meal, and our waiter brings us a small carafe and shot glasses_the typical Greek digestive. In addition, he brings us a plate of fruit and dessert_all for free! So, we take our shots, ask the waiter to take one with us, and enjoy the dessert. It was great fun.
first night in Crete

Day 2_Knossos Palace and food
Knossos Palace
Purchased some fruit, bread, and fresh feta cheese for picnic lunch at open market. Also bought large pink hat to protect me from the sun. Headed to Knossos Palace near Iraklio. This palace complex originates from 7000 BC! It's the oldest thing I've seen. Much of the visible structure is dated to about 1400 BC, but it's still really old! The archaeologist who excavated it decided to reconstruct some pieces as he believed they originally looked. Don't know how accurate it is. However, the whole place was huge! We ate our picnic lunch, caught the bus back to Iraklio. Funny thing_our bus was having some problems with stalling whenever the driver stopped. All the locals laughed. The day before, on the way back from the beach, our bus actually quit and we were transferred to another bus. Apparently this is common in Iraklio. We went to see the Venetian fortress along Iraklio's harbor and did some more walking around. Don and I stopped at a cafe and had some water and small snacks. After we had finished, our waitress brings us free shots. We are amazed_this is twice now. David and Sarah said the same thing happened to them. We ate dinner, later this time, at a Mom & Pop-style restaurant, and also received free shots and dessert. We're not sure if this happens to everyone, but we don't think they do it for the locals.
Giant jacks

Day 3_Archaeology museum and boat ride and food
We went to the archaeology museum where many of the artifacts from Knossos Palace are displayed. Pretty interesting. It's hard to believe that so many small items survived for so long. I can only imagine how many there were originally. Walked around the city and found a restaurant to eat a large lunch. Again, we received free shots and dessert_this time the waiter brought us 2 carafes! By the way_these shots are clear liquid made from the leftovers of wine making. The flavor is very strong_I think it's almost like a type of vodka, or perhaps pure alcohol. Anyway, I'm not a big fan of shots, and especially the flavor of these. Luckily, Don and Sarah took the extra ones like rockstars! Later that evening, we made our way to the harbor to board our ship for the overnight trip to Athens. The boat was fun, and our cabin was very nice. David and Don were disappointed to find out that the pool on board was not filled with water, as it was still too chilly for the Greeks. We had a good time and were sad to leave Crete. The people were super-friendly and the view was amazing.
Crete

16 June 2005

GREECE

Just wanted to say hello from GREECE! Stopped in an internet cafe to check the email while we were waiting for stores to open back up after nap time (I don't know the proper spelling for siesta?). Arrived yesterday and headed straight to the beach after checking into our hostel. Got a sunburn. Also played in a beautiful blue ocean! Greece is absolutely gorgeous! And, it's amazing how hospitable and friendly the people are. Even on the way here, in Germany, we actually experienced customer service! Maybe it's just because I've been in the Czech Republic for so long, but everyone in Greece seems unbelievably nice. Today we went to see the Knossos Palace, which dates back to 7000 BC. It's definately the oldest thing I've seen so far. Much older than that church in Italy that was built in 80 AD! Also bought a gigantic pink hat today to shield me from the sun. Pictures to follow. Looking forward to an amazing dinner tonight and a boat ride to Athens tomorrow night. Won't make a habit of blogging too often while I'm here, but I just wanted everyone to know that we made and are having a great time!

14 June 2005

Good news

Official results are in! I passed all my classes! Good news Mom and Dad, my semester wasn't a waste of money and you don't have to kill me when I return home.

beach time

So I'm done with all my classes. That's why I haven't been posting in a while. And, later today, Don and I are headed to Greece and Croatia for 2 weeks! So, you won't see too many posts from me while I'm gone. We're going with another couple from KSU that studied here in Prague this semester, too. But, the plan is to arrive in Crete, Greece tomorrow morning, spend some time seeing ancient ruins and the beach, head up to Athens, Greece for some more of that. Then we fly to Berlin and stay there for 1.5 days. Then we fly to Croatia. [Weird, I know, but it's the fastest, cheapest, and safest way to get from Greece to Croatia. Too many landmines in Bosnia to go that way!] Then we make our way through Croatia, visiting the national park full of waterfalls, the beach, etc. Should be rough. Will post every once in a while to let everyone know that we're ok and having fun. Look forward to some fabulous pictures and stories when I return to Prague on the 27 of June. Oh, and then I come back to the States on July 1. That's all for now.

09 June 2005

homework stinks

it washes right off......
I'd rather be doing this.......[freshman year]

07 June 2005

12 hour paper

Just finished my research paper for Ecology and Urban Space. I found out at 3:00 pm on Tuesday that I had to bring it to my professor at 2:00 pm on Wednesday. I started researching and writing at 4:00 pm Tues, and finished all 12 pages of equations and bullcrap at 4:37 am. 3 hours sleep and I wake up to turn in my Urbanism paper, print the ecology paper, nap and turn in Ecology. No blogs until projects are done, likely. Oh, and Don comes on Saturday the 11. Good night (morning).

06 June 2005

Excellent, Very good, Good, Fair....Fail?

Karlstejn Castle
Karlstejn Castle

Sorry for the delay in updates. I had a couple big deadlines today. My photography project was due, and I got my final grade_excellent [I guess that's an A?]. And, I had my oral final exam for History of Architecture. It involved telling my professor where I was from, where I have travelled this sememster, and then he asked me about architecture in Finland. And then I drew a card and it had a weird building on it I had never seen so I said I didn't know what it was. I received a grade of 'very good'. I probably could have talked about the design of a dog house and passed. I finished writing my paper for Urbanism, now I just have to turn it in to my professor and get a grade. That leaves one more paper, a case study and my studio project in the 7 days I have left.
Now I'll fill you in on the rest of my dad's visit. After the trip to Cesky Krumlov on Wednesday, Dad and I both slept in the next day. I had class at 1:15, and Dad decided to go to the bakery for some breakfast and then do some tram exploring. He rode one tram until the end of the line, then rode another, then found his way back to the Metro. I was impressed that he didn't get lost. After my class we did some shopping. Dad bought himself a pair of Bata [Czech brand of nice shoes, popular in Europe] and a pair for me as well. Did some more shopping and returned to my neighborhood for some dinner. Ate at the basement restaurant, and Dad ordered the Old Bohemian Spit [contains pork, chicken livers and bacon]. He said it was the best meal he had the whole time. I'll take his word for it_I don't eat organs, or anything involving Bohunks and spit.
Friday was his last day, so we took the train to the nearby village of Karlstejn to see the castle there. On the way, we passed by huge fields full of poppy flowers. They were really pretty. My guidebook described the Karlstejn castle as somewhat Disney Land-ish, and now we know why. Although the castle was nice, I preferred Cesky Krumlov. The one thing that really turned me off was the room with wood paneling. The guide told us the original wood panels were all intact and being restored. They were SCREWED into the wall with BRAND NEW brass SCREWS! I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure they just screwed themselves out of the historical value for that room. Whatever. I was done listening to her after that. But it was a fun day. To finish the night off, Dad treated me to a gourmet dinner in a very nice and delicious restaurant. It was fabulous and I ate far too much. Then I woke up at 5:00 Saturday morning to send Dad off on his 7:45 flight. We had a fun time.
Me and Dad
Nicole & Darreld on Charles Bridge

04 June 2005

with love, from Prague

poppies
[roadside poppies near Karlstejn]
I woke up at from a dream at 5:00 this morning because I had to take my dad to the airport for his 7:45 flight. I dreamt that I walked into a room and all my close friends were there, and I was so excited to see all of them. I had just finished giving everyone big hugs when I woke up. I really miss you guys and will be so happy to see you when I come back on July 1.

03 June 2005

Cesky Whatsky?

Cesky Krumlov
Dad and I have been pretty busy. And I'm pretty busy working on homework. I'll fill you in on Wednesday's excursion to Cesky Krumlov [pronounced Chesky Kroomlav]. We left early in the morning for our 4 hour train ride to Southern Bohemia to see the magnificent castle at Cesky Krumlov. My guide book claimed it was a 1 km walk from the train station to the castle. I think they are big fat liars. Pretty sure it was at least 5 km, but oh well. So, we stopped and ate some lunch at a little restaurant at the base of the castle. Then we headed up to the castle. This castle is beautiful! It was never pilfered or abandoned for a long period of time, so pretty much all the original furnishings and objects are intact. Now, as an architecture student, I've had to suffer through some ignorant tour guides butchering the architectural descriptions of buildings and such, or saying a column is tuscan when it's really doric, etc [do not take the guided tour of Oak Park, Illinois if you know anything about Frank Lloyd Wright or architecture, because you'll have to hear about 'Japanesie' influences or the 'Wrightie' style]. However, our tour guide was most excellent and knowledgeable on architectural eras as well as historical restoration. Anyway, the history of this castle is very interesting, and one of the coolest things was a gold-plated carriage built in the 1400's that sits in the middle of a room, just as it has for a few hundred years. Quite an enjoyable day.
We caught a train back to Prague around 8:20 pm, and got into Prague just after midnight. This is where my dad's real Prague adventure begins. We run to catch the metro from the train station. Then we ride 2 stops to catch another metro that will take us to a night tram. The metro stops at midnight, meaning they leave the end stations and run the extent of the line, so if you are in the middle of the line slightly after midnight, you can usually catch a train to somewhere. We caught the tram from Wenceslas Square, which is Prague's red light district at night time. So Dad got to play the dodge-the-lowlife game while eating a sandwich from the street vendors and waiting for the night tram. I think it was interesting for him. We were exhausted and went to bed around 2:00.
Round-window arch action arches_Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov