NA SHLEDANOU PRAHA // Prague, Czech Republic

My time in Prague has come to an end! I am writing this from the airport lounge as I wait to board my flight to Paris (not looking forward to navigating that massive city at night with all my luggage!). It still feels surreal that I have packed up my life again and left my little Prague room for the last time. But this is it! The final count down.

I had a wonderful last full day in Prague yesterday. I sat my final exam, submitted my last essay, and grabbed lunch with a couple of friends. As luck would have it the weather was perfect, so we got into tourist mode and went for an explore.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Charles Bridge was amazingly quiet considering the weather, so we took advantage of this and stopped to take a few snaps along the water.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_8434

It still feels crazy that I won’t be seeing this place anymore! I have become so accustomed to it, but having such wonderful weather truly made me appreciate the beauty of it all one last time.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We bypassed the John Lennon wall, as one of my friends hadn’t seen it before! There were a few artists at work, as well as a group of tourists hopelessly spray painting flags.

IMG_8477

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Across the road from the wall we spotted the French Embassy, and a memorial for the victims of Charlie Hedbo. It was quite moving to see, and we added some pens to the hundreds placed there.

IMG_8463  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My friends hadn’t seen the giant babies of David Černy, so we strolled along Kampa Island to pay them a visit as well.

IMG_8485

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Random yellow penguins?SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

10906288_10206660222770615_4768684621893507568_n

That night I met up with a few friends for a final beer or two. I feel so honoured to have met so many interesting, diverse people on my experience here in Prague.

I am keeping it short and sweet in the way of words today as I am awfully tired, and have a lot to think about! Plane anxiety is also starting to kick in a bit too.

Next stop, Paris!

– Reanna

PS: Thanks Hamza  and Bianca for some of these happy snaps!

Advertisements

KDE DOMOV MŮJ? // Prague, Czech Republic

My days left in Prague are dwindling away quickly, I almost can’t believe it whenever I tell people I am leaving next Wednesday. It all seems so soon! I will be honest though, I am excited. I cannot wait to embark on my last leg of travel, and then finally head back to Melbourne to jump back into life full swing. The plane trip home, however, is nothing to be excited about. 20+ hours of fly time, anyone?

I have resumed my status of being a shut in over the past few days, as I attempt to finish of essays and study for an exam, as well as rest up to battle a cold I seem to have picked up off Chris. I definitely do not want to be sick traveling! This afternoon I was craving some time out of my house (that wasn’t a trip to the shops), so I decided to check out the National Monument.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I have no idea how I missed this thing. It looks to me like one of the greater attractions of Prague, but I have never heard of anyone going there! Located on Žižkov Hill, the monument is filled with information about the history if the Czech Republic in the 20th century. It kind of stands as a monument to both World Wars, as well as the communist era, as the construction of the building coincided with the Nazi invasion, changing its initial function.

The above statue if of Jan Žižka (yes, the hill is named after him!), who from what I can tell was some one-eyed bad-ass who lead a battle against a Roman emperor on this very hill.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The above is a grave of an unknown soldier from the First World War (or perhaps the Second, I cannot quite remember!). Below is a pole filled with dirt or sand from every combat the Czech army has been involved it.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

As part of the admission to the monument (only 80 CZK for students, i.e. $4 AUD), one can climb up to the roof for some spectacular views over Prague. I had realised the weather wasn’t too great as soon as I left my house, but I was totally unprepared for the gale force gusts that felt like they were going to send me over the edge. I managed about two minutes up on the roof, desperately trying to hold my camera still enough to take a photo.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I am always surprised by the amount of greenery (well, parks that are usually green in summer!) in Prague. There seems to be a rolling hill popping out of blocks of apartments in every direction.

After successfully avoiding falling to my death on the rooftop, I came back down to look at the exhibitions. Most of them are permanent, but there was a small, temporary exhibition about music and politics. It was truly fascinating, reading about how the two can be interwoven, or against each other. There were even numerous headphones as you worked your way through to allow you to listen to various Czech pieces of music. I found the prominence of music during the Communist regime to be of particular interest. It is crazy to think of living in a society where one could be arrested and interrogated for belonging to a punk rock band.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I really had no idea what to expect from the National Monument, and happily wandered along following signs. I was taken through the above room, which was ornately decorated with mosaic depictions of soldiers. A stair case lead down to the basement, to a part of the museum I had not expected.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Called the Basement of Gottwald, the subterranean area featured small snippets of information about the horrors experienced in the communist era. I received a bit of fright when I was walking down a narrow, dark corridor and found these four guns trained at me through holes in the wall. Statistics about the amount of Czechs arrested, killed, exported and sent to work camps were dotted on the walls and floor. Needless to say, the exhibition certainly set a grim scene.

At the end of the corridors there was an eerie room, slightly reminiscent of Frankenstein’s lab. This room was once used by scientists to maintain the decaying body of former Czech president – and Communist leader – Klement Gottwald. His body was on display during the day for visitors to the memorial. Apparently Lenin did a similar thing back in Russia. Thankfully, he is no longer there.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe remainder of the museum documented the struggles of the Czech Republic during the 2oth century. I really wish I had come to the Monument earlier, as it would have been fascinating to know more about the country which I have been living in! Nevertheless, I know now.

The title of this post – kde domov můj (pronounce gde domov mooy) – is the name of the Czech’s national anthem: ‘Where is my home?’. After learning about the tumultuous history of this nation, I certainly have a greater appreciation about why such a song represents this country.

– Reanna.

THE YEAR THAT WAS // Prague, Czech Republic

Warning: philosophical musings about my life ahead.

I know we are now a week into the new year, but as I mentioned the other day I felt like this past year deserved a bit more reflection than some fuzzy photos of fireworks and a few tired words thrown together. I have also thrown in a few photos from the start of the year in Melbourne for good measure! I think it is safe to say I am feeling a bit nostalgic.IMG_2532

IMG_2751

I don’t want to spend too long mulling over all my feelings about the year 2014, but I would have to say that it has probably been one of the greatest years of my short life to date. Sure, it has had its share of ups and downs, but it has been a year of so many experiences I could have only imagine, a year of growth, and a year that has seen the development of a better outlook on the future for me. The start of the year was hard at times, due to the long hot summer and lack of fulfillment over the long university break. But once the semester started up, everything fell into place. Chris and I had such an amazing time celebrating our 21st birthdays with family, friends, and each other. First semester was crazily busy, but Chris and I both thrived under the conditions. We both studied hard, worked and saved a lot of money, and participated in numerous volunteering roles. Exchange also became a definite reality as we were accepted into our respective institutions and bought flights. We also began to really find our feet in Melbourne, as we discovered the joys of riding our bikes everywhere, spontaneous date nights, Lentil as Anything (far to frequently most likely) and breakfast out on Centrelink day.IMG_3115

I also began to feel more certain about what I want to do once I finish my Bachelor of Arts. I finish at the end of this year, and that is coming around far too quickly! My initial idea of pursuing law fell on the back burner, but I have become enthused about the idea of completing a year of honours in either Psychology or Criminology, and applying to do a PHD in an area that combines the two. I would also love to incorporate my new found passion for women’s rights into my research. Following such a path would see me work in either a research institution or continue onto academia at university. It is so empowering to actually have a more solid idea about what I want to do!

Everything moved along very quickly at the end of the semester, as we packed up our life in Melbourne and shifted everything back to our hometown and hung out with our families in the month before we left for exchange. You know the rest of the story from there. Exchange isn’t over yet (you can expect another some more philosophical dribble once it is!), but the whole experience of being in Europe has certainly sparked a feeling of wanderlust in both myself and Chris. Travel is definitely something we see becoming a more prominent part of our future. Who knows, maybe we will even return to Europe to work (or study, because lets be honest I will probably be at university forever!).IMG_3273

I am so excited for this coming month, as I pack up my life here in Prague and spend my remaining two weeks in Europe traveling with Chris, and finally return back to Australia. We have been on the hunt for apartments back in Melbourne, and it is all far too exciting! I am not really one for new years resolutions, but I do have some ideas about what I want to achieve this year and I am so excited for all that is to come!

All the best for the coming year.

– Reanna.

GOODBYE 2014 // Prague, Czech Republic

I know I have been saying this the entire time I have been over in Europe, but this year has just completely flown by! It has been such a crazy, busy time, but I have had some fantastic experiences and grown so much. I was intending this post to be a bit more philosophical, but I am still recovering from New Years celebrations last night and my brain is a bit all over the place from playing tour guide for friends and family. In a few days!

10881462_988000361233705_594422354_n

10884376_988000441233697_410248354_nWe had a lovely time playing in the snow again in the morning, building a – somewhat dismal – snowman while waiting for the ice skating rink to open. Julian is just the absolute cutest in his snow onesie.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

10884695_987999807900427_531565395_n

The ice skating rink was set up at the base of the TV Tower, and was quite cheap – 130 crowns, about $6.50 AUD – to use, including skate hire. Mum and Morgan stayed on the sidelines and helped walk Julian around the rink, while the rest of us gave it a shot. I am happy to report Chris and I were far more successful then our pathetic attempts in Copenhagen!10884808_987999554567119_1855775363_n

10887752_987999854567089_1600496243_n

10877915_987999397900468_1247373866_n

Julian was as hopeless as one would expect a 3-year0old with blades strapped to his boots to be, but he had a ball nonetheless. 10893577_987999481233793_1968311567_n

10893626_987999754567099_879479116_n

10913071_987999344567140_2075736913_n

We eventually got off after a good hour and grabbed some delicious fresh food for lunch at a nearby farmers market. The remainder of the afternoon was pretty chilled out, as we rested up for the night ahead. Chris, Aidan, Morgan and I cooked pizzas in my room and had a few drinks to start the evening, before grabbing some fireworks from the corner store and climbing up to Vyšehrad.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I had discovered fireworks for sale in my local supermarket a week or so earlier, and after some googling we discovered that yes, it was in fact totally legal. We were a bit premature with our fireworks at 8pm, but it was a bit of fun.

We met up with some of my Prague friends and joined a group of people for some drinks in an apartment with the intention of heading to a nearby park to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately we left it a bit late and instead ended up celebrating on the street with some other random people, who had more fireworks. Actually, it turns out pretty much everyone buys a firecracker of some sorts in Prague, and the night was alive with the sounds of fireworks going off on every street corner. It was such a bizarre experience, and the city was soon covered in a haze of smoke.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe continued on to another party for a couple more hours, before heading home for bed. It was a fun, sporadic night, and it was completely different to the hot summer night normally experienced in Melbourne. I was very grateful to have some of my closest friends and family with me, despite being on the other side of the world.

I hope you all had fun bringing in the New Year!

– Reanna.

(Also thank you Mum for most of the photos in this post!)

MORE SNOW, LEGO & GIANT FACELESS BABIES // Prague, Czech Republic

Life has continued to be busy lately, as Prague is now full of friends and family alike! I still can’t believe that Christmas has come and gone, with New Years now looming on the horizon.

I have been keeping busy playing tour guide for Mum and the family. It seems I have unfortunately got the kids hooked trdelník, a pastry rolled in sugar and grilled over hot coals.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We stumbled across these giant babies by Czech artist David Černy. We had previously seen them from a distance crawling up the TV Tower, and I didn’t realise how big they were up close! They are meant to mean something about the rebirth of the Czechs after the demise of Communism, and the lack of faces is about their confused identity. I think.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The cold weather has seen as try to find indoor activities to break up our outdoor expeditions. We checked out the Lego Museum, and it was fantastic! I think us big kids enjoyed it even more than the little kids. As well as just having basically every Lego set ever, the Museum also featured original sets and some information about the creation of the company. Plus, everyone loves Lego Star Wars.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The weather had been so cold that puddles (and fountains, such as the one above!) were freezing, so we were expectantly waiting for snow. Our wishes were fulfilled yesterday, when it snowed all morning. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Mum and the family missioned over the my side of town and we played in the falling snow at Vyšehrad before bunking into my little room for some homemade soup. It was such a wonderful experience!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The kids were so excited, as were all of us! After lunch we had another small play in the snow and admired some of the city views from Vyšehrad.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

That afternoon my friend, Aidan, arrived into Prague. We kept the afternoon pretty chilled out and caught up on all that had transpired since we had all seen each other back in Melbourne. Today we hiked up Petřin Hill and climbed Prague’s version of the Eiffel Tower. I had never been up and it offered come amazing views of the city.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The sun even came out, so it was hard to take a photo!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The afternoon was spent wandering around the castle and showing Aidan some main sights in the city. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We also dropped by the John Lennon Wall, which I hadn’t seen since it was painted completely white by some guerrilla art gang a month or so ago. The wall is pretty much covered again, but it looks a bit different to before. It is a forever changing work of art anyway.

Hope you all have a fantastic New Year!

– Reanna.

SNOWFALL // Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

Despite our lack of snow on Christmas, we have been keeping optimistic about the prospect of snow here in Praha! The weather forecast had us expectant for some on Friday morning, but unfortunately there was none. I took Chris and my family out to Kutná Hora for the day, and we were treated to a small snowfall! It wasn’t heavy enough to build up substantially on the ground, but it was enough to satisfy our tourist desires.

10402605_983194495047625_915465954511396613_nI was probably the most excited out of all of us. It is such a bizarre experience being in falling snow, and we were even able to see the small intricacies of individual snowflakes! 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Olivia thankfully shared my fanatic excitement, and we ran around in the snow while it lasted. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We are still hoping for some heavier snow in the near future! Considering the temperature is unlikely to get higher than -1 celcius in the next week, my fingers are crossed.

– Reanna.

VESELÉ VÁNOCE! // Prague, Czech Republic

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family. It has been a vastly different experience celebrating it in a foreign – and cold! – country, and without all the family I would usually see. I am very grateful that I was able to spend it with some loved ones, and Chris and I were able to skype family back at home.

On Christmas Eve most Europeans celebrate their Christmas festivities, so much of the city is closed. We were able to go to an exhibition of handmade Bethlehem nativity scenes I had previously seen with my Czech buddy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The scenes were made from all kinds of material, ranging from paper to loom bands, food to mechanical wood work. It was definitely worth looking at!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYes, even gingerbread!

Christmas day was a pretty chilled out affair. Chris and I headed over to my family’s hotel and we basically spent the entire day lounging around, cooking, eating, talking and a few casual strolls around the block. It was really enjoyable!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Breakfast (second breakfast for Chris and I, we were dying of starvation when we woke up!) was pancakes. Yes, Julian got a Spiderman suit for Christmas! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For lunch, Chris and I cooked something Czech themed. While not the traditional Czech spread of friend carp, we had roasted pork (with garlic, lemon, white wine and oregano) and potato salad. It was delicious! Oh, and Czech beer.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For dessert we had a Danish rice pudding, mixed with cream and almonds and served with a raspberry sauce. Traditionally in Denmark a whole almond is placed in the pudding and whoever finds it receives a prize! We ended up putting in multiple whole almonds and gave the kids some prizes.10556221_982355401798201_7630888170489666679_n

Despite the lack of snow – and probably far too much eating – it was such a nice day. Chris and I of course broke out our daggy Christmas cardigans. Much love to everyone celebrating the holidays everywhere!

– Reanna.