And that means there are less than two months left before I get to go home for a little while. The thing is, I want these couple of months to sort of fly by in a happy business, but then I'd like the two months that come after to go rather slowly so that I can soak up as much family time and Americana as possible.
This weekend has been really nice and beautiful. The witch burning turned out to be a little disappointing. And by that I mean, I didn't actually see a witch burning. Let me take that back. My glorious roommate Laura made a small witch out of grass, and she threw it upon the pyre, but it wasn't quite what I was anticipating. After a crowded car ride out to the middle of nowhere, we spent the evening listening to a random funk band and trying not to get high off the marijuana fumes that were wafting about. Really not what I was there for. We did enjoy sitting by the bonfire at least. The ride home was rather intense as 5 of us crammed into the backseat of a car that wasn't exactly grande. But we made it home safely and the Americans weren't forced to speak English to any cops in order to confuse them. Yeah. Interesting night.
May first is a holiday here. I think I mentioned before that it used to be like Labor Day during communism, but now it has some more romantic aspects. You're supposed to find some trees to kiss the one you love under, and then you'll have a great year. Of course, being beaten with sticks on Easter is also supposed to bring luck in love. Don't think I buy any of it personally, but it's interesting all the same.
On Friday Laura, Jonathan and I headed out to Marianske Lazne for an afternoon at a spa town. One of my students, Mark, was kind enough to play tour guide to us. Having lived there his whole life, he had lots of information about the history, as well as knowing all the important things that we should see. We didn't have time to hit everything, but we had a lovely relaxing day. We started off at an Art Cafe' where another one of my students works. He's recently had to quit attending classes because his employers are unreasonable and think he should constantly be working 14 hour days. Not cool. So it was good to see him again as well.
From there we moved on to another cafe' because Laura and Jonathan were starving. The service was horrendous. I mean, it took them a good 20 minutes to bring us menus and it wasn't even very busy. We were less than impressed. The food was okay, but it took about 40 minutes for it to arrive. It wasn't like we asked for delivery! The one good thing about the excessive slowness was the fact that the weather took a hideous turn for the worse whilst we were inside. The rain poured, thunder followed flashes of lightning by less than 2 seconds, and we sat safe and dry watching all the elderly German tourists scampering about for shelter.
By the time we were ready to head out, the rain was gone. The sun never really came back completely, but we found a spot or two of blue sky. Laura bought the tiniest spa cup ever, and convinced me to get one as well. It was her third stop on the spa triangle list, and she has a complete set of cups. She drank a bit of the water, after being carefully warned that, for a healthy person it could potentially cause stomach issues, and made a pleasantly disgusted face about it. We checked out my favorite church as well, but, seeing as how there were other people inside as well, Laura and I didn't burst into song to test the incredible resonance. Ah well.
We marched along the colonnade, bought Oplatky at an official seller in the town they originated, and then, oh then, made our way to the "singing fountain." Now, I've seen the fountain quite a few times, but this was the first time I ever heard it sing. It was a bit of a let down, but I wasn't overly surprised. Still, it was fun to watch it spray in various different formations, and to observe the crowd oohhing and aahhing over the canned music. It was good to experience anyway.
We finished the afternoon off with another trip to the Art Cafe' where my student works. He was supposed to have a break, but didn't, so we didn't get to talk to him much. Such is life. Especially when you have a slavish employer. We then took a leisurely stroll back to the train station. Mark took us by a couple more nice churches, including this little 200 year old Anglican church that came complete with a photo of the Queen. Jonathan, who is very anti-monarchy, could scarcely take this. It was pretty funny. Overall, it was a really pleasant, relaxing way to spend the day.
Yesterday, Laura and I went to yet another spa town, this time in search not of a spa cup, but of a dress for me to wear in her wedding. Unfortunately, we were less than successful. We discovered that most of the shops there catered to wealthy people with no taste. In Cheb we have these really cheap Vietnamese shops that are like low class versions of Hong Kong markets. Well, in Karlovy Vary they sold similarly tasteless clothes, but at very high prices. Fortunately, McDonalds was there to redeem the day. We soaked up the little splash of American culture with joy and applause. Amazing what a big mac, fries and a coke can do. We topped it off with ice cream sundaes. Pretty much perfect :) We didn't go home completely empty handed, and both found cute, cheap dresses at Kenvelo to make us feel better!
We returned to Cheb in the late afternoon, and after a breather at home we headed out to see a movie. It turned out that a bunch of people we know were there, so we ended up going to dinner with them afterwards. By the end of the day I was so ridiculously full I didn't think I'd be able to eat for a month!
Well, I've droned on long enough, and without even gracing you with any photos. Laura took quite a few, but I don't have them on my computer, so you'll have to stick to the text this time.