Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Well, we are back from Budapest, and I'm happy to say that our first trip was a great success!  Budapest was such a fun city and also very beautiful.  Every square inch was full of something different and unique.  We all loved how eclectic each place was--it really gave the city character.  We also met new people along the way, and we were pleasantly surprised at how friendly all of the locals were with us. 
This is our group in front of the Danube River.  The city of Budapest is divided in half by the river.  One half is called Buda, and the other is called Pest.  We stayed in a hostel on the Pest side, and visited a lot of the sites around the city on the Buda side during the day.  

On Saturday we took a boat tour up and down the Danube.  Above is a picture of the Parliament building which was absolutely breathtaking.  It really didn't look real and took me by surprise each time I looked at it.  We also went to the House of Terror, a museum dedicated to the Hungarians who died during communism and WWII.
This is one of the castles in Budapest.  There were so many interesting sights along the river--and they were even more stunning at night.
On Sunday we explored the city on foot.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and a nice relief from the 30 degree highs in Prague last week.  At least it hasn't snowed here yet!  (sorry, Kansas...)  We spent a relaxing day wandering and seeing more of the city.  Budapest is known for its spas and baths, which we wanted to see, but we weren't able to get into the building to look without paying.
Good news!  I have uploaded a lot more pictures, so you can click on the following links to see them: Loket Castle, Karlovy Vary, and Budapest.  I've also added captions (finally) so you know what you're looking at!  

We've started visiting classes this week, and I'm really excited about all of the art classes we will be taking.  We went to figure drawing tonight not expecting to do anything, but to our surprise, there were models there and we ended up drawing for 2 hours!  I think that class will be really fun but probably the most challenging.  Studio should be good also...I think I will be doing furniture design.  We officially start those next week, so until then we have quite a bit of downtime, yet the days seem to go by really fast.  Tomorrow's task: laundry.  It's funny how the simplest things (like doing laundry and getting dinner) end up becoming an adventure.  

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Castles and Spa Towns

Today we made our daytrip to the Loket Castle (aka Hrad Loket) and took a tour of the whole thing.  Probably the most interesting (and creepy) part was the torture chamber/prison in the basement.  At one point, we were all exploring on our own, and I lost sight of everyone else, so I decided to look in the prison (where everyone was supposedly headed) and ended up in what I swore was a haunted house.  As I went down the stairs, I expected to hear voices of the people in our group, but instead I heard the sounds of torture and pain.  The castle was pretty cool as far as castles go, and I really loved this view of the castle on the mountain.
The town, which was built around the castle, was so fun and cheery.  I just loved all the bright yellow, green, and orange buildings.  They can't help but make you happy.  We ate in this restaurant (the tall yellow building) for lunch.  The food was actually really good, but I'm pretty sure we got taken advantage of (we had to pay a lot more for a lot less food) because we were such a big tourist group.    
After the castle we headed to Karlovy Vary, the spa town.  There, we toured the Becherovka factory and then went to find the mineral waters.  We found them dispersed throughout a colonnade in the center of the city.  After sipping one, we determined they tasted like salty blood and we could probably do without their healing powers.  But the town was picturesque nonetheless and a good way to spend the end of our day trip. 

Tomorrow it's off to Budapest, Hungary until Monday.  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Stroll Around Prague

Today we finally took a tour of the city!  After 5 days, I finally feel like I've been to Prague and understand the city a little better.  We started out at Prague Castle and went inside the cathedral. 

The castle is located on a hill overlooking the city, so there were some amazing views of many other important landmarks in Prague.  I love all of the orange roofs that cover the city!

After visiting the castle and many other historical state buildings, we crossed the famous Charles Bridge.  Even though it was nearly dark, the bridge was still packed with people.  The bridge was quite nice, but I hear it's even better at night.  We'll have to make another trip there sometime soon.  Interesting fact about Charles Bridge: construction on the bridge started in 1357 on the 9th of July at 5:31pm.  Why such an odd time, and how in the world can I remember that?  The date is a series of odd numbers: 135797531, which they believed would bring luck to Prague.  Just in case you needed a little bit of trivia knowledge...  On the other side of the bridge there is an awesome view of the castle on the hill.
After crossing Charles Bridge we headed to Old Town to conclude our 4 hour tour.  Finally a familiar place!  We have been there at least once a day since we've been here, so we've gotten pretty comfortable exploring that area.  We ended the evening with dinner in Old Town and headed back to the dorms.

Tomorrow will be an early morning--we're going on a day trip to Karlovy Vary!  Karlovy Vary is a spa town with many different mineral waters which supposedly have healing powers.  We'll get to see (and maybe taste...I've heard they aren't so good...) the mineral waters, but I don't suppose we'll spend the day at the spa.  We'll also visit Loket Castle which is nearby.  It should be a really fun day...except for the forecasted rain...good thing I brought my polka dot umbrella!

I've also posted many more pictures of our trip around the city today in my online album.  They are down below the previous ones.  Click here to see them!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dorm Life

Here is our dorm at Czech Tech University.  All of us have rooms that are shared with one or two other people and a common room that we share between six or seven students.  The common rooms have a tiny kitchen and eating area and two bathrooms, one with a toilet, and one with a shower.  We are told they are the nicest dorms the university has, and so far they've been pretty good.  Going back to the dorms from an apartment is a little difficult, but it's a great way to be around lots of people all the time and keep you connected with everyone here.  

I also have started an online photo album if you want to view more of my photos!  Click here to view them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We're here!

We finally arrived in Prague after nearly 20 hours of traveling.  Luckily, Czech Tech has a great international student club, and each international student is assigned a buddy to help us figure out how to do things and translate for us.  When we arrived, our buddies brought us back from the airport, and we spent the evening filling out paperwork, seeing a little of the campus, getting our metro passes, and running to Tesco for necessities.  I apologize for not posting sooner, but we still don't really have internet access.  We will hopefully be up and running by Tuesday... 

On Saturday, we were so jetlagged we accidentally slept through half of the day.  We spent the afternoon getting more familiar with the metro and navigating the city.  However, we still didn't get to see all the sights we were expecting to see.  On Saturday night, a Czech student (who was an exchange student at K-State last year) and his friend showed us around the city a little and took us to a few pubs.  It really is true that the Czechs love their beer.  They were all downing liter after liter.  Some guys drank 4 liters.  That's like a gallon of beer!  At the end of the night, we finally got to see the famous Old Town Square, which was absolutely gorgeous.

Today, we finally got to do a few more "touristy" things.  We went back to Old Town a couple times and walked around in the daylight.  The city really is as beautiful as everyone says.  All of the buildings are in such good condition, and they are so eclectic.  I can't wait to go back and actually learn about what I'm seeing.  We should be taking a tour of the city with ISC (International Student Club) on Wednesday, so we decided to postpone any organized tours this weekend.  We also had our first traditional Czech meal tonight!  (So far, we had eaten at what I think was supposed to be an Italian restaurant--we had pizza--and a greasy little Chinese place which is very close to the dorms.)  I had traditional Czech potato soup (which was served with a fried potato cake) and some smoked pork (which was very pink, looked like ham, and tasted pretty much like a hot dog) served with mustard and horseradish.  It was actually pretty good, and I'd like to try some of their other popular dishes.  

We also made our first trip to the grocery store (we have a shared kitchen in our rooms) which was interesting trying to figure out what everything was.  We didn't get too much food because you have to carry everything back with you, and you also have to buy (or bring your own) bag to carry your purchases home with you (this is true of most stores except Tesco).  

Tomorrow begins our orientation week, so it should be a day full of meeting other international students! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Packing Packing...

Well, it's just about time to leave!  I'm almost done with all my packing, and fortunately, both bags are way under the weight limit.  They also have lots of extra room--which means I can bring home a ton of cool stuff!  I just hope all of our traveling goes smoothly and the airlines don't lose our luggage...

The adventure is about to begin!!  I'm going to miss everyone, but I will see you all in June!