Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer as it should be. Living the European Dream.

For starters, a naked lady with a lightbulb for a head enjoys a beer. What else is new?
Freedom is a precious thing. I can say that we're making the most of the down-time after that four-week full time job and a half. Still loving my new flat and flatmates. Here is the Church that I can see part of from my balcony and the famed Zizkov/Prague T.V. Tower. If you look closely, you may note the babies crawling up the side (more on that later).
On Saturday, my good pal Ryan (former roommate at UMass) arrived. He had his very first day of the TEFL course today and will experience what I did for the month of July (he had obligations state-side that he had to take care of - otherwise we would have taken the course together).

His arrival gave me a chance to show him the ropes the best I could given that I've only really had a week to really familiarize myself with the landmarks and other points-of-interest. I got to go on the official TEFL orientation walk (redundant in some areas, less so in others) and meet some of the people he'll be taking the course with. I also had the chance to answer their barrage of questions and put a little bit of fear in them ("no down-time on weekdays!?" "sorry.").

Part of the walk included a trip to the virtual symbol of Praha and the most obvious landmark you can spot from most points in and around the Vltava River - Prague Castle. You may notice it figures prominently in the header picture.

I've realized that my Spain experience has made me something of a cathedral snob (though it's called a castle or "hrad" in Czech, it's a cathedral - a little insight into the enduring secularism in the post-communist state). After touring the cathedral in Toledo and passing the cathedral in Sevilla on a near daily basis, it takes a lot to impress.
As the 3rd largest cathedral in the world, you could fit a couple Prague castles inside the pride of Sevilla. Don't get me wrong, the castle is still breath-taking, perhaps it just lacks the rigorous intensity and pride of Spanish Catholicism.
At the bottom of the hill from the castle is the Lennon Wall.
The wall originated back in the 1980s, when student protesters would tag the wall with anti-government slogans (these are the Soviet Czechoslovakia years - a world away from today). Many drew inspiration and quoted Beatles/Lennon songs. During those years, the secret police would routinely white-wash the wall only to find it re-tagged the following day. Though it lacks the rebellious spirit of those days behind it, the wall remains as a reminder of past political struggles and the greatness of Lennon as a singer/guitarist/songwriter.

In other news, on August 23rd, Radiohead will play one of only 5 impromptu European dates in Prague. The day I bought my ticket was the day I decided to stay in Prague. No mom and dad, I wouldn't decide how and where to spend and entire year based on a single concert. *cough* unless it's my favorite band of all time playing an exclusive show *cough*

As I sit in the cafe below my apartment, I'm getting ready to hop a train with my buddy Domnall, a delightful Irish gent from course that invited me to go biking and hiking in the countryside. A 3-hour train ride will take us to a town where our instructor Trisha lives with her husband and son, Philip (the one being given conflicting lessons on the appropriateness of peeing on the streets). She offered to lend us bikes and a tent so we'll see what happens. We'll go until Wednesday, when we leave with a group of 10-odd TEFL alums to go to Budapest, Hungary for a music festival (a cool 7-hour busride and we rented a single hostel room - a friendly squeeze). Job interviews resume next week. The time is now to get out there and see some things...

Carrie and Devon a top one of David Cerny's baby sculptures that also adorn the TV Tower. More on Cerny in the next post...

I'll leave you with a sign I saw outside a restaurant that would please my dad, after "noitidnoc" could be deciphered to mean "condition."
Ahoy! (ahoy means hello and goodbye - think "aloha")