Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wait... this is what month?

June dawned warm and beautiful, with the sun streaming in and- oh wait. I must be thinking of a different city... because June in Prague feels more like early March. High today was 12 degrees Celsius, and that's about 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Brr! Good thing I have my jacket and scarf... because honestly, I never expected this kind of weather. On the plus side, it's supposed to be sunny in the seventies in Berlin! I'm very excited for that adventure- but I have a few more days of fun before I get to that point. This morning, I started off with my art and architecture class. After reviewing the Renaissance and Mannerism eras, we struck out towards Valdstein (Wallenstein) Palace. On the other side of the Charles River from my usual hangouts, it was very cool to explore a new area. The palace was beautiful- a chateau-style architectural masterpiece that blends Baroque, Rennaissnce, and Mannerist styles. It also happens to be the location of the Czech Parliament, which was really cool to see. In the basement, there was an exhibit of many of the treasures that had been given to the Czech Republic as official gifts. Exploring the stunning gardens was very cool as well. The dripstone wall was incredible, and provided a startling contrast to the pristine hedges and fountains that shaped the rest of the garden. There were even peacocks wandering around! After we finished exploring, I went to a local cafe for lunch with my roommates. I had a tomato and mozzarella croque that was just a mess of gloriously cheesy goodness. Czech language class was later in the afternoon. I left a little early for class so that way I could grab a pastry on my way to class. I am always hungry. It's ridiculous. But it's all so good... and I've acquired a fondness for all things meruňka. I just love apricots all of a sudden. I don't know why. Another one of those inexplicable things that comprise my life, I suppose. So I purchased a meruňka pastry before class. Excellent decision. Class was fun, but the Czech language is such a formidable beast. Good heavens! It's absurd. Today, we learned how to count, how to ask how much something costs, how to tell time, etc. It's all fun and games until someone sets the clock to 4:44. Four is the most terrible number in Czech. And when you start putting all those fours together, things get very rough very quickly. Please note that that time is spelled something along the lines of čtyři čtyřiačtyřicet. Looks like a mess, doesn't it? Some pronunciation tips: č is "ch" (but ch in Czech sounds like the ch in loch), y sounds like the i in hit (but with an accent, it sounds like the ee in feet), ř is something describable only vaguely as rzh- with the r rolled, of course. There's a little more to it, but enjoy that little primer/tongue twister. Czech is the life of the party. In all actuality, though, I really do like it a lot. I've always enjoyed learning languages, and I'm up for a challenge (but shh, don't tell Russian that!). The cool thing about Czech is that even though it looks very harsh, it's actually about subtleties. The letters are nearly all pronounced, but sometimes, it's just a hint of the letter, rather than the entire sound. It's hard to explain, mostly because I'm still figuring it all out. I mean, come on, guys, I didn't master the entire language in a week and a half. Let's be reasonable. Maybe this time next week. Or, you know... maybe not. Whatever.
Tonight, we booked plane tickets for Amsterdam next weekend. I'm very excited about exploring the city. Traveling with friends is awesome! That's all the independent traveling that I will be doing this session- the rest will be on trips organized by USAC. I would tell you where and when, but I can't keep my life straight anymore. Eh, who needs a functional brain anyway?
The Charles Bridge over the Vlatava River
Prague Castle
The Czech Senate
Snake in the dripstone
Searching for faces and creatures within the dripstone was really entertaining
The peacocks were all over the garden

This wasn't sideways when I uploaded it... I dunno. Cock your head and call it art.


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