Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretty Much a Perfect Prague Weekend

This past weekend I went to Prague for a CA meeting. The weather, which had been fantastic leading up to this weekend, took a dramatic turn for the worse on Friday. Suddenly I was back to wearing thick socks, two coats and a scarf! Not exactly happy Sarah things. Especially not when I know that the weather in Hong Kong is pleasantly in the 80s...sigh...The one good thing was that this made me more satisfied to sit for hours on end in a meeting on a Saturday. It can be excessively hard to get myself to hold still for that long when the weather is nice.
Laura and I arrived safely on Friday evening, and were met by our friend and co-CA David. It was a real relief that he picked us up seeing as how the trams decided to malfunction and we'd have been a bit lost using only metros and buses. As it was, everything went smoothly, and we spent a relaxing evening at Nad Aleji reading about the make love not war philosophies of the Bonobo monkey as described in National Geographic. Good times :)
On Saturday, after the meeting, Laura and I headed out to meet up with Ben and Sarah (my friends who are living in Berlin) for the rest of the afternoon. It was really nice to be able to see them again. This was Ben's first time in Prague, and it had been a long time since Sarah last visited as well. We wandered around the Easter market in Old Town Square, then found our way in to the Tyn Church. Sarah cleverly discovered that, if you follow the signs to the WC, you can eventually get to the entrance of the church. It isn't marked in any other way. So bizarre. Anyhow, we checked it out, and were fascinated by how buildings had been built up so haphazardly around it that they actually had to carve out space for a little decorative face by the entry way to be seen. Bizarre how people would just tack on a building over an ancient church. This church has had quite a history as well. Originally Catholic, it switched over to Protestant for a couple of centuries after the Hussite movement, but has now returned to being Catholic. We were amused by all the signs forbidding pretty much everything from photos, to noise, to entry and exit in numerous places. We also appreciated a figure on the wall who seriously had to have been Gandalf the Gray.
Our next stop was Prague's Municipal House. It was designed by Mucha and is a fabulous Art Nouveau building. It was near here that I finally managed to get a picture of myself with Ben and Sarah thanks to the presence of Laura :)

Evening had crept up on us, and we decided to go out for dinner. We went to Modra Zahrada (The Blue Garden) which is a nice little Italian place near Wenceslas Square. It's always such a change to go out to eat in Prague. While in Cheb the waiters always speak in Czech, with maybe a little German mixed in, in Prague they automatically speak to you in English. It makes it really difficult to do anything but respond in English to them. I've discovered, however, that I'm far more accustomed to asking for certain things in Czech by this point. I mean, how often do I go out to nice restaurants in the US? Almost never! So when it came time to ask for a box for my pizza, I automatically asked in Czech. It took the waiter by surprise, so I had to say it twice. After that, I'd made a friend. He kept coming back and asking me things in Czech. He asked if I wanted another drink, and asked me how we would pay the bill. I was really glad that I was able to use my Czech and not just look stupid. When we left he and I shared several Na Shledanos. I knew I'd somehow succeeded.
In contrast with that, today I went with Jarmila to make presentations about Winfield. The plan was that she would talk to the students in Czech and then I'd say a thing or two in English if the students could understand at all. Unfortunately, we went to a couple of German classes that didn't really know any English. After my very short introduction of myself in one of these classes this girl looked at Jarmila and said something to the effect of, "this girl's been here for two years and she still doesn't speak any Czech?" I was pretty irritated because I did actually understand what she had said, but I just left it for Jarmila to say that I do speak some Czech. At least the nice waiter in Prague appreciated it. I'm FAR from even being vaguely conversational, but I'm not totally helpless.
Well, speaking of my Czech skills, it's about time for me to go to Czech class, so I'll have to leave the rest of the Prague update for later.

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