Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Can anyone see pictures on my last post? I know I posted them, but they aren't showing up on the school computers. I'm not sure if they really aren't there, or if it's just the computers because my posts don't show up on the school pcs until a day or two later even though they are actually posted to the blog. I'll try to check again later, and if they are actually missing, I'll try to put them up again.

I saw something really funny today. At least, it was funny to me. It probably won't transfer as well in type. I was walking to school (1.25 miles each way, by the way...up hill one way. I could ride the metro, but I think I prefer walking), and I saw this strange, little, Czech man. He was probably 50 years old. He looked like he was trying to be French, with this curly mustache. But everything he was wearing was black leather. Black leather pants; black leather jacket; black Italian-leather, pointy shoes; black leather man-purse. Then, to top it all off, he had a black leather beret. I've never seen a leather beret. He was, like, tough/feminine/biker/chic/blah/blah/blah. It was really funny to see. Then, he stopped to look in the window of a bike store, but not "leather"-type biking...cycling. Maybe tomorrow he's gonna go for the Spandex.

So, classes start again in one hour, and I have to say, I'm actually very anxious to get back to income taxes and international accounting.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Krakow, Auschwitz, and the Pope

We went to Krakow and Auschwitz this weekend. We left Thursday night and came back Saturday. We had to cut the trip short, unfortunately, but I really enjoyed Krakow. I didn't exactly know what to expect, but it's a beautiful city. We had no idea, however, that the Pope would be there. When we saw the sign at the hostel (my first--and LAST--stay in a hostel, I think), I made it my mission to see the Pope. I'll get to that in a minute.

On Friday morning, we went out to Auschwitz to see the concentration camp. It was an incredible experience. I learned a lot about the Holocaust in school and from visiting the Holocaust museum in D.C., but actually being at a concentration camp--Auschwitz, in particular--was unbelievable. The Holocaust is so tangible for Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans. But in America, apart from the few Holocaust survivors that are left, our only real exposure to it is from textbooks. I couldn't believe I was actually seeing the barracks, the death wall, the "Work makes you free" gate, and the crematorium. This is where nearly 1.5 million people were killed. I was appalled by it before, but it took seeing it with my own eyes to really understand how devastating it was. Before, I could ignore the especially unpleasant parts, but when it's all right there in front of you, you can't get away from it. I definitely recommend everyone who gets a chance to see a concentration camp to do it. It's difficult to see and think about, but it's an experience that will make the Holocaust more real than anything else, and that's what needs to be done to make sure we never forget it.

Now on to Krakow. I'd made a pact with myself not to stay at any hostels. They just don't appeal to me at all. I prefer having my own room and not being forced into contact with people I don't want to know. I think it's safe to say that a majority of hostellers don't fit into the category of people I want to be around. Besides, I'm an introvert, and hostels don't care about introverts. Anyway, I couldn't find an available hotel room that wasn't incredibly expensive. I didn't know why because I didn't know the Pope was coming. But I found this nice hostel in Rick Steves' book called Mama's Hostel. He said it was quaint and friendly, so I decided to give it a try. We made a preliminary reservation, but when we got there, we found out they had to give our room to someone else because it was only a preliminary reservation. The only place we could find was at Nathan's Hostel, which is for people who like to party. <--Not me. We didn't really have a choice, though, so we figured we could put up with it for one night. The thing is, because the Pope was in town, there was a ban on alcohol from 6 pm Thursday to 6 pm Sunday, and the only places that could serve it were hotels and hostels, and you couldn't leave if you'd had a drink. So, everyone in the hostel plus others from the town were getting drunk all night in the hostel. Including my travel buddy. Not a good experience. I think I was the only sober person there. Let me just say here and now that I refuse to deal with drunk people ever again. That was enough to last a lifetime for me. I honestly just don't like being around drunk people. I'll steal your keys from you or whatever, but I don't want anything to do with you until you're sober (and that's only if I like you enough). That's all.

Back to Krakow. We went out in the afternoon to see the city. Like I said, it's a gorgeous city, right behind Prague in terms of the tourism rebirths that these Central/Eastern European cities are having. We had dinner then decided to wait for the Pope to drive through the city in his Pope-mobile. I've never seen security like I saw in Krakow. It was unbelievable, but you can see for yourself in my pictures. He was supposed to drive through the square at 7:35 but didn't actually show up until 9:20. I guess you can show up whenever you want if you're the Pope. Anyway, it was exciting. Something I wasn't expecting, but an experience that not many people can say they've had.

Here are some pictures from the weekend. We're back in Prague now. I might take a day-trip out somewhere tomorrow or Tuesday before classes start back on Wednesday, but, because I decided to take two classes instead of one, I haven't seen as much of the city as I would have liked, so I want to make sure I take some time to do that in the next two days, as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leaving for first break

I'm busier today than I thought I would be because our train leaves earlier tonight than I thought, so I don't have time to right a full entry. We're going to Krakow, Auschwitz, and maybe Dresden (or somewhere) else for this first break. We have to be back in class on Wednesday. I'll update when I get back on Tuesday or Wednesday if I don't get a chance to use the internet while we're away.

We met a really rude Czech lady at the information dest at the train station today. Not a pleasant experience. If you work at an information desk, you know you're going to be giving tourists information, and you should be friendly and helpful. She was not.

Off to take my Tax test.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In my place...

Here is a picture of my room in our flat. I just put more up on my Shutterfly site. We've got seven girls in four rooms on the fifth (American) floor.

I've got an Income Tax test tomorrow at 1pm (that's 6am in Texas) so say a prayer that I do well!

I'll try to write an update tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pictures are up.

The Charles Bridge

Okay, I finally was able to put some pictures online.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm here

View of Castle from Charles Bridge

Well, I'm finally here in Prague. I've actually been here since Saturday evening, but this is the first chance I've had to use the internet. Getting here wasn't so much fun. I had a really long lay-over in Houston, a rocky flight to Paris, a really long lay-over in the worst terminal of CDG airport, and an even rockier flight from Paris to Prague. In addition to that, they left my luggage in Paris. Only mine. I guess it's good that it happened to me, though, because I think I was the only who packed for a situation like that. We're here, though, and I finally have my suitcase, so it's all better.

They delivered my suitcase to Jeff's (the College of Business Administration's International Business guy who traveled over here with us) hotel at 2 am. He was supposed to bring it to our apartment at 11 am before we met him to walk around the city at 12 pm; however, the cell phones that we got here were all set to the wrong time, so when we woke up to get ready to meet him, we were really an hour late and it was 11:50.

It didn't matter, though, because he didn't bring my bag to the apartment. I was getting really frustrated and planned to just try to find my bag and then do my own thing with Lorelei after getting ready. I told the group they were supposed to meet Jeff at Wenceslas Square. Well, they all went to Old Town square, which is a block away from our apartment. I saw them going that direction, and ran down to catch them. I needed to ask Jeff about my bag anyway. I told them they were in the wrong spot, but we couldn't get to Wenceslas Square because the maps we were given were in Czech, and we didn't know what "Wenceslas Square" was in Czech. We tried calling Jeff, but he didn't answer. We finally got a hold of the one guy who someone how had arrived at the correct meeting spot and were able to get in touch with Jeff through him. Jeff said he'd come meet us after he waited a few minutes to see if anyone else showed up. It was like 12:40 by then anyway, so no one else was going to show up, especially since we were all in Old Town Square.

Jeff finally arrived at OTS and told me he had my bag at his hotel. He asked me if I wanted to take the tour and then go get it. I told him that I really just wanted my bag so I could relax knowing that I had it, choose the clothes I wanted to wear, and get all of the things I needed for that day. Then he pretty much asked me the same question again, so I gave him the same answer, only a little more assertively. I wanted my suitcase, dang it! He decided to find a place for the rest of the group to eat lunch while we went to get the bag. He looked at several places on the square, and the group told him they were too expensive. I finally said to him, "You've got to get off of the square to find the cheaper food. This is a tourist trap!" So then he called the group together and said, "Guys, like you've noticed, the food here is a little expensive. That's because this is a tourist trap. Blah blah blah." Good job. That's when I realized he probably didn't know any more than I did in this situation and that I should do my own thing. Sure, he was going to show us the city, but he hasn't been here since 1991. Give me a map, and I'm good to go. I like Jeff and appreciate him helping me with my bag, but I just prefer to do things on my own...but not all on my own--just not with the entire group--so don't worry, grandparents. I'm just an introvert.

I finally got my bag and had to drag it about 15 minutes across town back to the apartment and up to the fifth floor. But I HAD my bag! Lorelei went out and walked around Old Town, crossed the Charles Bridge, then we walked over to the area where our school is to make sure we knew where to go for our orientation at 6 pm. The school is about five minutes from Wenceslas Square, so it's about a twenty minute walk from our apartment. You can take the metro, but you've to to walk about five to seven minutes to the metro stop, so I think I'll just walk it. I've got to get in shape to climb those stairs anyway.

We had an orientation that evening then went to a club that Dr. Masselli had reserved for us to have dinner. When we were finished, Lorelei and I left and went back to OTS to see the astronomical clock do its little routine at 9 pm. The Czech hockey team played Sweden last night so there was a HUGE party in the OTS. They played a concert and the game on these huge screens, and there were about five thousand drunk Czechs there. We watched the clock and then left as soon as possible. It was a good thing, too, because they lost. Then there were five thousand drunk and angry Czechs. We walked through part of the Jewish Quarter to another bridge for a nice view of the river and castle. The nice thing here is that it's pretty light outside until about 9:00 or 9:30. The not so nice thing is that the sun starts coming up at about 3:30 in the morning, and it comes right through our window.

Our apartment is really nice. It's very big and has a TV, DVD player, and stereo. All seven girls are staying in one flat (three doubles and one single). There are some downsides, though. For example, it's on the fourth floor, but since we're in Europe, it's really the fifth floor. Also, the hall lights are on a sensor that doesn't work very well, so the lights will go off and it will be completely dark while you're climbing the stairs, then the sensor doesn't sense you and you've got to feel along the wall on the landing for the switch. There are also these huge metal doors to every apartment, so anytime anyone comes in at night, they clank and bang and wake everyone up. And this is Prague, so people are coming in at all hours of the night. Not me, though, so don't worry, grandparents! Also, you've got to turn the keys about twenty times to unlock the doors. Maybe not quite twenty times, but if feels like it. Also, the bedding is just a duvet, so it's that or nothing, which means it's really hot because I have to have a cover. The last bad thing that I can think of is that the shower will turn scorching hot immediately and then freezing cold immediately. I burned my arm last night as a result, but the icy water was right there to cool it off.

I'm not complaining! It's an experience, and I learned from my time in Grenoble that these are the things on which you look back and laugh...and at least there aren't any bed bugs.

Class starts today. We're in the computer lab at the school right now. These are the oldest computers I think I've ever seen, and the control panel is locked, so, unfortunately, I can't upload my pictures from my digital camera. One of the guys brought a laptop, though, so I'll see if I can borrow it to put my pictures up tonight or tomorrow.

Okay, goodbye until next time!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Strange dreams

I'm at work. I've run out of things to do, the phone won't ring, and I'm waiting for my lunch break, so I'm going to post about something has been puzzling me lately. I don't often remember my dreams, but there are a few recurring dreams that have had me confused for a while. Now they are even more puzzling because, you see, my brother has the very SAME dreams!

Okay, so let me describe these dreams:

1) I'm driving my car, and at the four-way stop that is a couple of blocks away from my house, I try to apply the breaks, but they won't work. Not only that, I'm going pretty fast down a residential street. Luckily, no one else is at the stop so I just speed on through (freaking out, though). There's one more residential intersection coming up, then there's one of the very busy streets. I panic because I don't know what to do, then I usually wake up.

2) I'm usually in my house (well, my old house...which had stairs), and I wake up to go get a drink of water or something. The problem is, I can't really see where I'm going. It feels like I can't open my eyes past about a squint, so I see a lot of black and a lot of blur. No matter what I do, I can't open my eyes. It's terrible, really. Recently, I've started having dreams where I'm elsewhere during the day, and I can't see. I have to shuffle along, feeling my way as I go.

3) I can fly. Sort of. More like I can run in the air. Most of the time, I'm being chased by someone, so I just build up my speed enough that I life up off of the ground. I can get pretty high, two or three stories up in the air. What's strange is that it's not quite flying, and it's not quite running in the air. It's more like one of those Nintendo Super Mario jumps or something where the character jumps across a fiery pit or a pool or piranhas, but it feels like it's in slow motion. When I jump, I can probably stay up in the air for about fifty yards or so...until my legs get tired.

Okay, so those are the three dreams. In the past couple of weeks, they've come up a few times and Bryant and I have discovered that they are common to both of us. Is that weird? Because Bryant and I are nothing alike, really.

What I want to know is, do other siblings have the same dreams? Or has anyone else had these dreams? Are they just common dreams? And if so, what's their meaning? I can see how the malfunctioning breaks could be a common dream among young drivers, but the other two seem a little strange. Help me out because it's driving me crazy!

While we're on the subject of dreams and Bryant, I'll share another dream that I used to have frequently. We are at our cabin in Cloudcroft (we were young...I was like 8 and Bryant was 5), and there is an old lady who lived a little ways down the mountain. Strangely, she looks like the character, Strega Nona, in the book by Tomie DePaola that I used to read where Strega Nona was making spaghetti and she made so much that it filled up her entire house and started to pour out of the windows. Also, strangely, she has a very large cauldron the size of a swimming pool in her cabin. One day I wander down there and befriend the lady. I tell her of my annoying little brother and how I am the only girl, stuck in a cabin and surrounded by boys. She feels sorry for me and tells me that if I bring my brother with me next time, she'll boil him in the cauldron for me; however, she couldn't boil my cousins because I could not give consent on their behalf.

I can't remember if I ever actually reached the point in my dream where I took my brother down there to be boiled. It was a dream that I had at least twice a year for about 5 years, though.