Tuesday, October 28, 2008

my cool niece and nephew!

I just wanted everyone to know that I have the coolest niece and nephew around! My sister-in-law posted a video on her blog of them singing happy birthday to me last week and i am pretty sure that it is impossible for anyone to watch it without smiling!
So if anyone reading this is ever having a bad day, just let me know and i will send you that video... believe me, it will help!

welcome to bratislava... get ready to walk...

So on sunday our plan was to wake up early, head to bratislava, then catch a train back to prague that evening. Since bratislava is only about 1 hour from vienna it was going to be pretty easy.

However, when we were getting ready to go to bed we realized that none of us had an alarm clock at all. We had been using my roommates cell phone, but it died.. Finally we realized that my ipod has an alarm so we all crashed..
I thought everything was good until my roommate woke me up at 7:00 in the morning saying that we needed to hurry up and get ready to go. He told me it was a little after 8 and we needed to get going, but my ipod said that it was only 7. None of us could figure out what was going on, and of course the idea of daylight savings never even crossed our minds. We didn't have any idea what time it was until we walked to the metro station and looked there (i would like to point out that my ipod was correct!).

When we got to Bratislava we were presented with yet another problem. We had no idea where we were in the city and there was no information stands anywhere around. We spent about 45 minutes trying to figure out where we were on the map and then another 20 trying to figure out where we wanted to go. When we finally figured it out, we headed for the castle.
It didn't take us long to figure out that there really wasn't too much there besides the castle though, so once we had seen that we decided to try to catch a train back.

By the time we got to the train station, which was about 2 miles away, we were all so exhausted that we just sat there like zombies waiting for the next train. When we finally got on our train, it was so packed that there was people sitting in the hallways and stuff throughout the whole thing. Luckily for us we had reserved seats!
The only problem with our seats was that we were in the same room with some lady who decided to bring her dog on the train. Nobody really paid it any mind until it became apparant that she didn't care what it did at all! It was climbing all around the car smelling us and trying to crawl up into our seats with us. It was amazingly awkward!

But as you probably guessed, we made it back! here is a few pictures from Bratislava:

hold on a sec.. we dont even know what time it is!

Well this last weekend we went to Vienna and to Bratislava. We left friday morning to head to vienna and stayed there till sunday morning.
When we first got there we quickly realized that we had written the directions to our hostel down from the wrong train station. So instead of a short 5 minute walk like the hostel website told us, it ended up being a 2 hour navigation exercise that consisted mainly of us walking randomly down side streets trying to find one that we could find on our map. Luckily we found it and were able to check in and leave our bags there so that we could go explore the city a little.

We decided to just walk around that afternoon and so we headed towards this amusement park that wasn't too far away on our map. This place is supposed to be pretty cool, and everything we read said that it is usually packed. But not while we were there! No joke, this might have been one of the creepiest places i have ever been.. It really seemed almost as if it were completely deserted, but there was still the creepy music playing from all the rides. We saw 2 rides in action, and each of them only had 1 person on it. After we got over the creepiness, we all found it pretty hilarious actually and so we walked around in there for a little while. We were a little suprised to find not one, but several Casinos in the amusement park as well. They seemed a little out of place to us.

After the park we went to the big soccer stadium in vienna and to this big horse track that was across the street. My roommate here loves horse racing so we hung out there for a little while and he explained to us the basics about the different kinds of horse racing.
After that we went and ate and then decided to call it a night. Although it was only like 9:30 we were all exhausted for some reason, so we just crashed.

On Saturday we just walked around Vienna all day and saw the sights and stuff. It is a beautiful city, there was tons to see. We also found some big military festival thing going on there that was pretty cool. They had a zip line going over the big square and had a bunch of tanks and helicopters and stuff, it was pretty fun.
We also went to the gardens and saw this amazing palace. It was really awesome, probably one of my favorite places I have seen so far!

i will do another post about our trip to bratislava.. but here are some more pictures of Vienna:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interesting choice of decorations.....

Yesterday a few of us took a day trip out to this little town called Kutna Hora. It is home to this pretty famous church which is known as the bone church.

As you can guess there is somewhat of a bone theme. Apparently this church had a pretty large cemetery, but then the plague hit and they didn't have room for all the bodies. So instead of taking them somewhere else, they gave all the bones to this half blind monk who lived in the church and told him to use them somehow.Now this guy must have had some pretty serious time on his hands because he was able to decorate the entire church with around 30,000 dead people's bones. In case you didn't guess already, it was a little creepy...

After we left the bone church we decided to walk to town, which was probably about 1.5 miles away, to get something to eat. The town was beautiful, we ended up walking around for like 5 hours just looking at all the buildings and everything.
When we were finally ready to leave we realized that we had about an hour and a half to kill before he next train left for prague. So we decided to check out this bobsled thing that we had seen flyers for which was right on the edge of town. It was pretty cool, it only cost us like $2 to go down this thing. It was pretty much like a big water slide but there was no water and we were on these little cart/sled things. We made it into a pretty good time and it was much better than cuddling with some old, frowning, czech lady on a bench at the train station.

The only problem with those things was that when we went to leave we realized that we didn't really know where we were. We had an idea, or at least we thought we did. When we finally realized where we were, I found out that my bearings were about 180 degrees off from reality. Luckily Brian and Anna had a better coordination system than me and we were able to get back to the train station on time. This picture shows you where we were walking, this was our clue that maybe we were not in the right area:
I should point out that we barely caught both trains that day. That morning we had to run through the station to get to our train before it left, and in the afternoon we got there about 3 minutes before it left (which was cutting it pretty close since we weren't even really sure where the station was for awhile). But we made it!

Here is some more pictures of Kutna Hora:

Sunday, October 12, 2008


So I know that I told some people that I was going to go to Bratislava this weekend. But i changed my mind.
Instead John and I went to Dresden, Germany. It was a really easy trip, only about a 2.5 hour train ride and there is trains that leave every couple hours. We left Prague Saturday morning at about 6:30 so we got there a little before 9:00. As soon as we found our hostel we checked in and then headed straight down to the old town square, and it was awesome there!
A lot of the stuff there has had to have been somewhat rebuilt because of the bombings in WWII. But it was still amazing!

We walked around down there in the old town for several hours, until we were pretty sure we had seen most of the stuff worth seeing, and then we decided to try to find the old city hall and a big old church that was supposed to be pretty cool. Unfortunately we went the wrong way on some street, so we didn't get to see that church at first. Instead we stumbled upon a different really cool, old church! We also went to the Dresden World Trade Center which was pretty cool. Inside we found an Aldis, so we stocked up on some cheap junk food for the rest of the trip!

After the world trade center we took our food back to the hostel and rested for a little while, then we went out to this famous Volkswagen Factory that is in Dresden. It was definitely one of the coolest things I have seen in awhile! Everything there is glass, so you can see pretty much everything that goes into the assembly of the car. We were amazed at how clean it was too, I mean it was spotless! Even in the factory part, there wasn't even like grease marks on any of the machines, it all looked brand new. The only bad thing was that they weren't running that day since it was the weekend, but it was still pretty cool to see.
You can barely see it in this picture on the left, but this was a huge, completely glass parking garage full of brand new cars. The other thing about this plant is that they only make cars to keep up with the demand, so pretty much every car you see there was already sold before they even started building it. Because of that, a lot of them were pretty customized.

They still don't touch my favorite European Car though!

Here is a few more pictures of the old town:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the cleaning lady... or satan? or both?

So i still haven't told you about the cleaning "services" provided by my dormitory. Or rather the lack thereof....

The first major problem that we have found in our room is that our toilet doesn't really flush.. Obviously this creates a little bit of a problem... It just kinda makes a lot of noise and swishes the water around, but it never actually flushes. We have all just started going down to the lobby to use the bathroom.

My favorite thing is our "cleaning lady." We have this lady that once a week randomly lets herself into our room and starts doing whatever she wants to do whether we are there or not.. So far her usual time is Tuesday mornings, usually sometime around 8:00 a.m. As you can probably guess I am usually still asleep when she comes, and although you would think that would slow her down, it doesn't at all!
She doesn't hesitate a second to flip on her vacuum about 6" from my face, whether i am sleeping or not! It is actually pretty funny, mainly just because she doesn't even act like we are there. One of these weeks i want to sleep on the floor just to test her. My bet is that she would just vacuum right over me without even blinking an eye! She is crazy!

The other weird thing is our laundry room... Apparently dryers aren't big here, because in the laundry room they just have a washing machine and a bunch of indoor clothes lines. It is a pain to have to check out the key twice though (once to wash your clothes, once to get them after they are dry), so Andy and I bought a bunch of string and made a clothes line right here in our room! We are gonna be limbo pros when its all over because we have lines going all over our room!

But anyways, I have my first Czech language class in the morning so i should probably try to get some rest.. I am gonna need all the help i can get!

Monday, October 6, 2008

well that was depressing... how about some ice cream?

ok so when we finally got there on friday morning, we were all so tired that we decided to take a short nap at our hostel to recharge before hitting the city.. When we all got up we went out to get some lunch and walk around for awhile. We ate at a restaraunt called Rooster, and it didn't take us long to find out that it is definitely European version of hooters.. After that we just went and walked around the city for awhile. We saw the city square, the wawel castle, the old jewish quarters, and several cathedrals that were pretty awesome!
We also went and bought some food to cook at the hostel (including polish sausages), and after we got done eating we were all so tired that we just crashed!

The next morning we got up and caught a bus out to Auschwitz. The bus was hilarious actually because it had black lights and techno music playing when we got on. I felt like i was climbing into some sort of mobile club!

Auscshwitz was really awesome. I was definitely one of the more sober trips that i am guessing i will make here.. We couldn't believe how big it was, yet when the more we found out about how many people they kept there, we realized that there wasn't even close to enough room.. It was very cold and raining the day that we visited the camp, but i cant even imagine how cold it must have been for the people being kept there.. The winter there gets ridiculously brutal!
When we finally got back to Krakow that night, we were pretty exhausted once again. However not even our legitimate amount of sleep deprivation kept us from playing an intense game of Polish Monopoly that we found in our hostel! It was a blast! we had no idea what any of the cards said, but we were able to look some of the stuff up on an internet translation website and we just kinda made up the rest... The only problem was that i got dominated by brian and went to bed analyzing every bad decision i made throughout the game, wondering what would have happened had i not bought that last set of houses for my yellow properties... but oh well....

Sunday morning we went to these salt mines that are very famous around krakow and went on a tour through there. It really awesome too! The miners pretty much lived down there, so they have carved these huge sanctuaries from the cavern walls and stuff. It is pretty unbelievable if you see how big the main one is and how intricate it is!

We didn't have any trouble on the way back luckily! We got back this morning about 6:45..

I am not sure where i am gonna go next yet.. If anyone has any ideas let me know!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

back from poland..

We had a great time in poland!
We took a night train on thursday night that left at 9:30 and got us there about 6:45 the next morning. Although it wasn't quite as simple of a ride as we were expecting...

We all figured that we would get on the train here in Prague and then get off the train in Krakow, but we were wrong. After about 4 hours of unsuccessfully trying to sleep, our train stopped. We weren't worried at first, we figured that we were just at another station picking some more people up. But we started getting a little worried when, after about 15 minutes, the train started moving back towards prague... It had started to rain a little at this point, so my roommate Andy and I stuck our heads out the window to talk (we were in seperate rooms). After a second I turned to get back in the car, it was then that i noticed that our entire train was no longer attached to us! there was only us, one other car, and the engine (and we were still going in the wrong direction)... luckily after a second we stopped, then started going back in the right direction (apparantly they were just switching tracks). But we finally got back to the station, stopped laughing, and started trying to figure out what was going on.
We found some guy and showed him our tickets and he told us that we were on the right train though, so that put our minds at ease and we all went back and continued trying to sleep. After about 30 minutes some guy came in, threw open our door, and demanded our tickets. Then he starts saying, "wrong train," and pointing at the train that we used to be attached to...
So we loaded up all our stuff and went to the other train only to find that there was no empty rooms left.. We found 2 empty rooms in the first class cabin and figured that we would ride it out as long as we could.. Unfortunately that didn't last long. After about 45 minutes they came and told us that we were in the wrong car and we needed to go back to second class.. Luckily we were able to pile in with some random polish guy and were able to ride out the last several hours till we got to krakow..

I actually forgot to tell you about the drunk guy that came into our car too! at about 2:30 in the morning, some polish guy came in and sat with us. It took about 2 seconds to tell that he was pretty intoxicated, and i am not sure if you could tell faster from looking or smelling. But he stayed with us for about 20 minutes, the whole time trying to give us beers that he kept getting from somewhere in his bag. Then he finally left, but he only moved one room down so we could still hear him perfectly (he wasn't exactly using his inside voice).

I have class here in a little bit though, so i will write about the rest of the trip later...