For Lack of a Better Title: Remarkable Things.

I’m apparently terrible at keeping a blog.

I have done remarkable things. And I have met remarkable people. I’m quite inclined to leave it there, as any feeble attempt to describe my life here wouldn’t do it justice. Alas, I don’t have the luxury.

Recently, I went to Kutna Hora, a small city about an hour outside of Prague famous for its bone church and several other beautiful cathedrals. If you click on any of the pictures, a lovely gallery will appear, and you can get a better look at the morbidity that is the bone church. It was quite awesome, and, if you like a bit of black humor, you’d appreciate the nonchalance with which all of these human bones were artfully arranged, or casually piled. It was a pretty hilarious place in that sense. The chandelier in particular was a sight to behold. Take a look.

Apart from the bone church, there were a few other cathedrals we visited. However, one in particular stood out to me: St. Barbara’s. It’s pretty much a given that cathedral interiors are majestic, to say the least. But the exterior of St. Barbara’s was… nothing short of breathtaking. I truly cannot describe the feeling that came over me when I first saw this place. I came to the Czech Republic partly because gothic architecture appeals to my childish whimsy. If I imagine hard enough, I can pretend to be a horse-riding, sword-brandishing, dragon-slaying, medieval heroine. But this place… I didn’t even have to try. It had the element of magic I’ve always dreamt of, and I was transported to a world where it was all real for a moment.

As we were leaving, I quite literally felt pangs of pain, and looked over my shoulder several times. I simply didn’t want to be parted from such profound beauty. I knew when I came home (to my Prague apartment) that I’d had a remarkable day.

I’ll miss this place.

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Long Overdue: Karlstejn and the Czech Republic’s Non-Non-Tasty Foods

Karlstejn Castle

I’ve neglected you, my readers (I’m sure you have been hanging on my every word, and have pined for my brilliant renditions of Prague life), and for that I apologize.

Previously, I posted about non-tasty Czech foods. Mostly, the food is still non-tasty. However, there are a few non-non-tasty foods that I could share with you. I call them non-non-tasty, because they’re not particularly delicious, but plain leaning towards tolerable, which is an improvement.

Below you’ll see a cylindrically-shaped cookie (Trdlo), held by a rather foolish-looking girl who isn’t me. They make these confections by wrapping dough around a metal rod and heating them until stiff. It seemed to be sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and was, by all accounts, okay.

Below that, you’ll see traditional Czech fruit dumplings. I was most excited to try these, thinking you really couldn’t go wrong with blueberries and delicious vanilla custard. Alas! They were somewhat dry and salty in a way that wasn’t particularly complementary to the sweetness of the blueberries and vanilla. But, they were okay.

Both of these foods were consumed in the beautiful little village of Karlstejn, which lies about 40 minutes outside of Prague. I have to say, the loveliness of this place nicely juxtaposed the relative mediocrity of its food. After my program director and I defeated the damn-near-90-degree incline to the castle, we were met with a breathtaking view: Rolling, vividly green forested hills against a crisp blue sky.

Every once in a while, we humans experience what is commonly referred to as a “spiritual” experience: an ego-destruction of sorts, and we feel expansive, organic, self-transcendent, all in the space of a few moments. Most often as a result of being confronted with something truly beautiful or magnificent, humbling.

Apart from the view, I was in a real castle. A castle! It’s the stuff of my dreams.

I’ve posted a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Not Me, Eating Trdlo

Image

Fruit Dumplings

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A Vegetarian’s Nightmare: The Czech Republic’s Non-Tasty Foods

Thankfully though, I’m quite the meat lover, so this isn’t a problem: gimme a steak and baked potato, and I’m a happy camper. Before I came to Prague I asked some friends who’d previously studied abroad there, “What sort of food do Czech people eat?” I got pretty much the same answer: some variation of meat and potatoes. Hoorah for me!!!! Right?

 

No, not really. Now, I’m no foodie, but I appreciate food more than the average person. It isn’t uncommon for me to rant and rave about the perfect combination of flavors and subtlety of spices that I encounter in a given dish. I have, on occasion, been known to affectionately embrace my favorite foods with a glimmer of fondness in my eye. Additionally, I’m not what one would consider a picky eater. Really, I just like to stuff my face.

 

Prague is a beautiful city (more on this in a later post), but Czech food is … plain leaning towards unappetizing, unfortunately. This in no way takes away from my experience, and I certainly didn’t come here because of the cuisine (I came for the architecture, the history, and so forth). But, if you’re an American who has had the misfortune to not eat my mother’s excellent mediterranean cooking, and hope to experience wonderful, exotic foods on your study abroad trip, I wouldn’t recommend medieval eastern Europe.

 

Pictured is a traditional Czech dish, svickova (based on my now-rudimentary understanding, I believe it’s pronounced: sveech-koh-vah). Those white things that look like bread are in fact potato dumplings–they are rather bland and tasteless. Usually these are served with some sort of meat, commonly beef or pork, and it all wallows in entirely too much gravy. It’s often bizarrely topped with a bit of whipped cream and a berry or two, which most people neglect to eat. I think this is some feeble attempt at beautifying the plate.

 

However! There are some tasty things that I have consumed in the Czech Republic, so stay tuned for “The Czech Republic’s Tasty Foods.”

 

I also saw a beautiful castle. More on that later.

 

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Obligatory “This is my travel blog; please, look at it” Post

Charles Bridge; Prague, Czecch Republic

As indicated by the title, this is my blog. I must do it, this blog, despite the knowledge that I will get one or two views, most likely by a guilt-tripped friend. Or my mother (Hello, Mom).

I shall go to Prague, Czech Republic. (See: Pragueably. Pronounced: Prague-ably. Clarification: Pr-aw-gub-ly. You may comment on the cleverness of the title; thank you Shilpa, for your incredible pun.) I shall return a changed woman (or something like that) with the newfound knowledge and infinite wisdom that I will indubitably gain via the imbibing of worldly things. Like Czech beer. Which is reputed to be cheaper than water. As a poor university student, I’ll have no choice but to save money, of course.

You probably have many questions for me (probably not. Or should I say Pragueably not! Heh …)
I shall answer them presently, anyway.

What am I doing in Europe? I’m studying abroad. I’ll be taking creative writing and photography, i.e. pretending to be a not-engineer for two months. Why Prague? Because it looks like the place where dragons and brave knights and mythological creatures of lore might exist. Also, gothic architecture. Essentially: it is not the sterile, suburban America that I’ve grown up in most of my life. Don’t get me wrong. America is great. I love central air conditioning, capitalism, and high fructose corn syrup. But you know. Time for a change, wanna experience some culture, etc.

On a more serious note, I do hope to learn a little something about us people; maybe figure out what common threads we all share in the experience that is “humanity.” I want to know what it’s really like being on my own in a completely unfamiliar, uncomfortable setting. It’s the only way to grow, I think, and I’d like to do a bit of this “growing as a person” thing that people keep going on about.

I land in Prague on 23 May. Here is a nice picture of Prague that I found on google images. People like pictures.

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