VEGETARIANS IN A CITADEL // Prague, Czech Republic

The weather seems to have blessed us yet again, and I am trying to soak up as much of it as I can. Apparently the sunny days are numbered before my first experience of a true European winter sets in!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYesterday I met up with a few friends to set out to VegeFest, some vegetarian festival we had found a flyer for. My friend from Melbourne is a vegan, and I do love vegetarian food, so we thought we would check it out. The festival was set in the old citadel of Vyšehrad, so it was also an opportunity to check out a new area of the city!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt took a little bit of wandering aimlessly and asking locals for directions, but we eventually found our way. There wasn’t much happening at the festival other than chilled out music and delicious food, but it was nice to just laze around on the grass chatting and eating.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfterwards, we ventured around the rest of the citadel.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYes, another graveyard! This one was the complete opposite of the dark, gloomy one I saw the other day. It was open and sunny, filled with flowers and sightseers.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe amount of effort that must have gone into constructing some of these is amazing.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESUpon reaching the side of the citadel we were treated to breath taking views of the city. I know I have already taken a ridiculous amount of similar photos, but it always takes my breath away. Plus, it is a different angle of the city!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt is sunny again today, so I am excited to finally head outside! I have been stuck in front of my computer all morning trying to organise my classes for university. So fingers crossed that all works out!

– Reanna.

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WINE, GHOSTS & BOHEMIAN PARADISE // Prague & Český ráj, Czech Republic

I had anticipated doing a separate post for Friday and Saturday, but Saturday ended up being such a long, loooonnnng day, that the Friday post never came into fruition. So warning in advance, long post ahead!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn Friday I headed out to a traditional Czech lunch hosted by the international club. Well, if by “hosted” you mean “we will lead you to a restaurant and get you seated then dump you”. I bumped into a friend and ended up sitting on a table with him and a group of lovely Germans. There are a lot of Germans here, which is surprising considering how close it is – I would think they would chose somewhere further away for their study abroad!

I had Moravian roast pork, with spinach and potato dumplings. And, of course, a beer.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfterwards, my friend and I met up with our Czech buddy (that’s how we met!) who took us to “Vinobrani”, which is a celebration of the new wine “burčak”. It is a young wine, so is quite sweet. There was a bit of music and some market stalls set up, but unfortunately it began to rain, so after trying some wine we headed into the church looming over the square to have a look around.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe rain eventually stopped enough for us to head out to a second hand shop (my friend and I both needed jackets of some description for the oncoming cold weather!). Our buddy pointed out there was a famous cemetery across the road, so we went to have a look.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt was probably the most spectacular cemetery I have ever seen. My buddy said it has been used in films, and I can see why. It is basically your stereotypical gloomy cemetery.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe wandered around for awhile, and I had an interesting time listening to the conversation between my buddy and our friend. My buddy is still trying to learn English (she can speak it, but not very well) and our friend (born in England, but moved to Germany when he was twelve) studies Czech at university, so I gleamed a few tips from them.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn Saturday morning I was up bright and early to head out on a hiking trip organised by the international club. I was really looking forward to it, but boy was I in for a long day.

I was lucky enough to meet another Australian girl from my dorm on the tram, so we hung out for the day (she is from Queensland). But as soon as we arrived at the train station and discovered about 100 other people were coming on the hike, the day pretty much slid into the mottling first gear it would idle along in for the rest of the day. After waiting for an hour, we were eventually ushered onto a train, which took two hours to reach our destination. We hadn’t been informed where we were going, when we were getting off, or what we were doing (I only found out about the meeting time and place via email the night before) so I was already getting frustrated.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESUpon arrival there was still a clear lack of direction, and I almost died when our apparent leader pulled out a map and uncertainly began to lead the way.

I won’t bore you with the details of the gruelling frustration that scarred the entire trip. The national park we were at, Český ráj (AKA Bohemian Paradise), was absolutely beautiful, but i feel I could have enjoyed the trip so much more if there hadn’t been so many people (who all walked incredibly slow), actual leaders who knew what they were doing, and a bit more information given (the leaders never spoke to us as a whole about where we were going, as they didn’t know where they were going).

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA group of 8 of us eventually took the lead (because the leaders never lead, despite that being what leaders do) and followed the track to a castle we were meant to visit. We were there for a good hour, in which time we sat and had a rest, looked around the castle, and waited some more, before the rest of the group eventually showed up.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThere was some random event going on at the castle, so there were some birds hanging around.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOnce the group arrived, we eventually hunted down the clueless leader and informed him that unless everyone picked up the pace there was no way we were going to make the five kilometres to the train station (we had a train at 6:40 allegedly). Something must have finally clicked, as he mustered up everyone after ten minutes and sent us marching.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHowever, the fun still didn’t stop, as upon finally reaching the town, it was revealed they didn’t know where the train station was. Cue half an hour of 100 people following some Czech girl as she asked locals for directions. Three wrong turns and back tracks later, we finally arrived at the station. At 6:30. For a two hour train ride. And there was no food shops open. I conceded defeat and was almost ready t die of starvation by the time I got off the train in Prague at 9pm.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo while the place we went to was beautiful, I am really, really disappointed with how the day was run, and frustrated that I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I could have due to the constant annoyance. It is safe to say I am never going on a trip run by the group again.

End rant.

Here’s hoping I have a better day today!

– Reanna

“PEACE IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WISH FOR, IT’S SOMETHING YOU MAKE…” // Prague, Czech Republic

I am counting down the days until I finally start university. This has been such a long, long break (I think I finished exams in June/July?) filled with a lot of changes, and I am beginning to crave that bit of certainty and routine university brings. Well, that is when I finally know what subjects I am doing.
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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYesterday was relatively unproductive and chilled out. Well, probably not “unproductive” in the true sense of the word, but more unproductive in that I did nothing much of interest. I was in the city in the afternoon so I decided to take a bit of time to wander across Charles Bridge and find a new part of the city.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt seems that every city has a bridge that is a take off of the love lock bridge in Paris.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTUREScIn my wanderings I found the John Lennon wall. Lennon was an icon of sorts among the youth of the time, and after his death many people took to covering this wall with graffiti calling out against the communist regime of the time. It has been repainted several times, but now it has been left as a reminder for peace.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPeople can still leave messages today, though I am not sure how sturdy sticky notes are.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI then wandered over to the Vojan Gardens. Considering their proximity to the bustle of Charles Bridge, the gardens were wonderfully quiet. There was even a few resident peacocks, but they ran away as soon as I pulled out my camera.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI am feeling a bit more at peace with my dorm now. I have been trying to find a place to move out to with some other girls, but it is almost proving to be more hassle than it is worth. I still have my room to myself, though if I end up getting a room mate I will move out without question. But for now, I have enough room with the place to myself, and a guy I met in the dorm directed me to a bathroom down the other end of the corridor that boasts cubicles in the showers. Revolutionary. However, we will see how I go.

– Reanna.

“PRAY WE DON’T CATCH YOU AT ANOTHER MUSEUM” // Prague, Czech Republic

I feel like my attempts at photography are slowly declining, yet I am doing exactly what I have been doing all trip! Maybe I should consider investigating the other settings on my camera!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYesterday morning saw me embark on (hopefully) the final step of what I have now deemed the “Visa Saga”. For any of you who have had to bear witness to my tears and complaint about this long and complicated process, you’ll know what I mean. My final step was to send my passport back to Australia. I was too nervous to trust Fedex to find me at my dorm, so instead I spent ages on public transport to find their office in a far out suburb. You could tell people don’t normally walk there, as I had to walk in the mud on the side of a road through an industrial estate. Nevertheless, the deed was done. Now to wait for it’s return…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter these exciting events, I met up with a friend in the city and went to check out the Museum of Communism.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe museum was quite small, and was filled with relics and memorabilia from the time of Communism in Prague. It was quite information heavy, but was still interesting.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt also seems they collected every statue head of a Communist leader.

The Museum also had a side gallery featuring a series of rare images from North Korea. I found this incredibly moving, and somewhat distressing, the be reminded of the atrocities that are still occurring in that country today.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s crazy to think that Communism was still part of society here in Prague only 25 years ago, yet looking at these images makes it seem like such a foreign and archaic idea.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs powerful and awful as propaganda was, it is one of favourite art forms.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Museum had made a collection of propaganda style posters with jokes about the ridiculousness of the Communist regime.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat evening I joined an English speaking Amnesty International group I found out about online. Everyone in the group is lovely, and it sounds like I can help out a bit throughout my semester! Afterwards I met up with a few friends for a drink and a chat.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd on a random note, here is me appreciating my dinner. Considering the lack of resources here in my dorm, I have been making some quite delicious meals (falafel, dumpling soup, curry, etc). I hardly ever see anyone else in the kitchen, and even then all they have been cooking is eggs on toast.

Masterchef life.

– Reanna.

 

A BIT OF EVERYTHING // Prague, Czech Republic

My life has been quite sporadic at the moment, with getting settled in, starting o-week, and socialising (what? I know).SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn Saturday, after a delicious vegetarian lunch with my friend from UniMelb, I met up with a German exchange student who had been in contact with me. It was great to meet up with another exchange student, and we wandered around the Zažít Vinohrady Jinak – Americká ulice (which, according to google translate, is the “Otherwise experience Vinohrady – American Street”). It was a street festival in a neighbourhood of Prague that seemed to have a bit of an American feel to it. Despite to rain, it was bustling with people drinking, eating and listening to music.

 

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn Sunday I met up with my German friend again for lunch, before meeting up with my friend from UniMelb and heading out to the Meet Factory for a flea market. As did most other exchange students it seems – there was a lot of English to be heard when I was walking around! It was a cool venue, that served as a music hall and an at gallery. We may be back to catch a live act one weekend! Later that evening we met up with some other acquaintances of my friends for dinner.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn Monday morning I kept my schedule pretty chilled out, and pulled on the old tourist hat again and wandered the streets of central Prague. There is still so much I am yet to see!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI happened to be walking past the Astronomical Clock minutes before it was due to go off, so I thought I would join the throngs to see what all the fuss was about. Understatement of the century to say the least. Literally nothing happened. Unless you count a few of the figurines turning their heads from side to side as riveting.

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The weather was a bit all over the place, reminding me of old Melbourne. One minute I was wandering in the pouring rain, the next I was pulling off my jumper in the sun!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSome hideous dancing building, which seems odd in contrast to the rest of Prague’s old architecture.

On top of all this, I have also been looking at flats with a couple of other girls. However, we have yet to find anything suitable, or we have been beaten by the hoards of other exchange students on the hunt. Hopefully we find something soon! I am admittedly managing quite well in my dorm, though I certainly don’t want to be here for five months.

O-week also started yesterday, finallllly. I went to a lecture on Czech culture yesterday, which wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped, but it did make me feel better about some quirks of the culture I had come up against (apparently it is totally normally for people in shops to be rude, and for people to glare at you for smiling at them on public transport). Afterwards a few people headed out for a couple of drinks, and I tagged along to have a chat to some other exchange students. It has been fascinating to meet people from so many different cultures!

Today (Tuesday) was my official “registration day”, ie. listen to how I can register for subjects NEXT WEEK, then spend two + hours waiting to get my student card. It was a very long, and very frustrating day to say the least. I am trying to accept that this is just the way things roll in different cultures, but for someone with my need for constant organisation and structure, it is doing my head in!

Let’s hope it gets better later in the week!

– Reanna

 

STARTING ANEW // Prague, Czech Republic

My posting will probably be a bit more sporadic now that I am not running around a new city trying to see as much as I can every day or two. I’m still carrying my camera around me everywhere though, but I have been quite busy the past few days moving into my dorm (though hopefully I will only be here temporarily!), buying necessities, setting up bank accounts, and other less exciting things.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYesterday I finally managed to get in contact with a friend from my university in Melbourne who is also here in on exchange. Turns out she is staying in a dorm a block away from mine, which while not perfect, is significantly better than mine (ie. has cubicles in the showers). We checked out each others dorms then wandered around the neighbourhood. It was refreshing to talk to someone who has English as a first language!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe area that our dorms are located is quite grey and bleak, so we were surprised when we walked 5 minutes down the road and came across a beautiful old church and park! I took these photos pretty quickly, hence the lack of focus in them.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI have a few things in mind to do over the weekend, and then next week it is FINALLY time to go into uni! Even if it is only for orientation week, but I am so excited nonetheless! I am also in the process of trying to hunt down an apartment with another Australian girl, so fingers crossed we get something in the next week and I can move out of this dorm! It hasn’t been too awful yet, but I can imagine that when more people start arriving it might go down hill. Last night I worked out that if the dorm was at capacity, there would be 44 people sharing my kitchen with me. Said kitchen has one sink, one oven, and six hotplates.

Here’s hoping for an apartment!

Hoping all is well back in Australia.

– Reanna

 

JUST YOUR AVERAGE MEDIEVAL TORTURE CHAMBER // Prague, Czech Republic

I am still pinching myself when I wake up every day that this city is now actually my home! Though it is a bit hard to feel at home when I still don’t have a decent place to live!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYesterday I returned to Prague Castle to view the rest of buildings I didn’t see yesterday. Once again the weather was fantastic, resulting in flocks of tourists.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn many of the buildings a permit is required to take photos. I was too lazy/cheap to buy a permit, but was able to grab a few sneaky shots when no staff members were around, such as in the painted room above.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy favourite part of the castle was Golden Lane, which is situated near the castle wall. The lane way consists of a row of rather small houses, which used to house gate keepers and gold smiths, before later being used by various occupants, including artists, a fortune teller, and an eccentric film maker.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe lane also lead up to a tower which housed a fantastic collection of medieval artefacts. There were numerous suits of armour dating from the 1400s, and every conceivable medieval weapon you could imagine.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd, of course, a torture chamber.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe houses themselves have been restyled in the fashion they would have been in when occupied by people of various trades, while others housed little shops selling touristy things. As you can see, there wasn’t a lot of room. You usually had to duck to enter!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe famous author Franz Kakfa lived for a while in house number 22. I haven’t worked out what was so good about him yet, as I read his book “The Trial” and found it less than riveting.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI then headed down to another tower for some more medieval torture. This tower used to house the prison.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYeah, people were put in that cage.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen it was time for churches. This is St George’s Basicalla. I didn’t catch how old it was, but judging by the faded paint in various parts of the building, I’d say it was fairly ancient.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPoor St George’s Basicalla has nothing on the overshadowing St Vitus’ Cathedral. This massive church was by far the centrepiece of the castle. I am glad I waited until later in the day to check it out, as there were lines when I went past at midday!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThese elaborate churches have made me see why religion was such a powerful influence back in older times. The over the top beauty of these places give them a sense of power not to be meddled with.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI should keep a tally of how many photos of church organs I have taken on this trip.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTourist life. I did spend about ten minutes trying to perfect a selfie (it did not work) before giving up, but I later did a photo taking trade with another tourist. Unfortunately for the other guy, his camera was some ridiculously fancy SLR, which I had no idea how to use, so I spend quite a few awkward minutes trying to work out what to do. I think I’ll stick with my little point-and-shoot camera for now!

– Reanna.