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!


John Dark said...

You're cracking me up Whitney. How many times have you traveled, and this is the first time you had baggage troubles? It was bound to happen sometime. At least you were prepared. I am so jealous that you're over there right now. You'll have to be sure to keep us updated not only on humorous situations, but also on the wonderful and strange people you are staying with. I'm sure it's bound to be interesting. I'm glad you're having fun. I'm enjoying the journal. Who knows, I might just grab a plane ticket and come up there and visit!

Anonymous said...

We're glad you finally got there, in spite of the rough trip. Sounds like you need to carry a flashlight with you for the stairs. Also seems you need a sheet. Just be careful in that hot shower, don't know what to tell you for how to do that. We know you will be smart and adapt to everything, as you always do.
Miss you, Granny