This week has been very busy. I said goodbye to one city and hello to another, which I plan on staying in for at least a month with my TEFL classes.
That was the big thing of this week- finding a school. I was in contact with two schools and after visiting them, I decided on one allowing me to move into the flat/apartment on Friday, which was great because I only booked my hostel till then.
Budapest was so much fun. The city is beautiful and I found the people very nice and helpful. There were only a few items left that I wanted to do and I was able to accomplish them with ease such as seeing the Opera house. It was very beautiful and I also paid to see a mini performance at the end. It was one woman who sang two songs, but she was great. They say it is better if you go to an actually performance because then you can see the building and a show, but I didn’t have time.
I also hiked up to the Citadella, an old fort. The view from the top was incredible. It was a bit gray, but one could still see far. I was quite warm when I got to the top and removed my jacket. When I was at the top, I saw others walking around fully dressed. I couldn’t understand how they hiked to the top with a heavy jacket and not be hot. As I made my way around the Citadella, I saw a parking lot full of tour buses and cars. Everyone else drove up.
Though, I was nervous with the metro and still am now in Prague. You have to validate your ticket in these boxes. In Budapest, it’s a punch-hole box while in Prague, it’s a stamp indicating the time you entered as you only get a certain time to ride. Well, in Budapest, I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right with the holes and I was checked twice. No one said anything to me, either because they knew I was a foreigner and was just happy I bought a ticket or I did it right….or both. Some people risk getting checked by riding without a ticket. It was suggested to me one night in Prague and I refused. The fine is significantly higher than walking a few minutes out of the way to buy a ticket.
To finish Budapest, I also saw Aquincum, which are old Roman ruins. It was so cool to walk around. The museum was interesting, but simple. It didn’t have that much information, but a ton of artifacts. If you just want to look at the objects then it would be fine for you. These ruins held public and private baths and one section of the small museum talked about bathing rituals, which was interesting. After, I walked around the ruins. Most places won’t let you touch old things, let alone walk on them/around them. So this was a treat. You literally can stand in the different rooms of the bathhouses or private homes. It was awesome.
I made the trip to Aquincum a bit complicated as it’s not in the city center so you have to take the commuter rail, more or less. There are different zones and Aquincum is still in the city zone meaning I can ride on it with just the metro ticket. I asked a woman on the platform if the validation box was on the train, she said yes, but asked two police officers to make sure. They talked among themselves then asked me where I was going. I told them Aquincum and the end stop of the train. They took that to mean I was going to the end, which I need a different ticket. I went to the ticket counter and asked and she shook her head and told me I was fine.
That evening was my last night in Budapest/Hungary so SJ and I became real tourists by going to a touristy Hungarian restaurant and café for dessert. The restaurant was very nice and the food was delicious. We had galosh, a crepe dish, and a pasta chicken dish to share along with wine from Hungary. The food wasn’t expensive per se, but since it was in the touristy area it was more than a normal restaurant. There were musicians there and they took requests. Some tables asked for certain songs such as Phantom of the Opera or The Beetles. The places was heavily decorated with Hungarian items that hearing these songs in juxtaposition with the decorations were a bit strange. We then walked to this famous popular café.
It was more decorated than the Opera house! We sat down and almost immediately ordered dessert. After almost 30 minutes nothing came. I waved down a waiter,
“I’m just wondering how our desserts were coming along?” He looked at me then ran to the computer and back.
“I’m sorry, but it doesn’t look like you are in our system. What did you order again?” We told him and he rushed to complete it. After five minutes, our delicious desserts were in front of us. He apologized for the mistake and the time and scurried off.
The next morning we got coffee at a nearby café that was quite charming and I headed to the train station for my seven hour ride to Prague. I brought food on the train and made sure my e-reader was charged. A combination of sleeping, eating, reading, and writing brought me to Prague. I hoped on the metro and went to the hostel, Sophie’s Hostel. It is situated right next to tram lines as well as a metro stop. It is also not a far walk from the tourist areas of town.
After checking in, I brought my things to the room and met one of my roommates from Australia, E. E invited me to join the group downstairs when I was ready. It was a huge group of Americans, British, Australians, and South Americans. It was decided to all go out and eat and drink. After going to several pubs, we split into two groups. The pubs were all full or didn’t want to accept a huge group, but one thing about Prague is that everyone makes reservations, which we didn’t have. My group found an Italian restaurant, but one girl and I wanted Czech food so we broke off and went to another pub that was great. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was great. She was a flight attendant from Canada, but lives in Abu Dhabi. T and I had a great conversation about many topics before we found the other group. They were in the party mood and we were tired so we returned to the hostel. Apparently, the other group found a bar that allowed one of us to go behind the bar and serve shots….on the house!
After deciding my school the next day, I walked around Prague. One of my first stops was a Synagogue, which was beautiful. The outside was so elaborate that it doesn’t really fit with the more classical buildings of Prague.
Making my way to the Old Town Square, I waited for the Astronomical clock to chime as it does every hour then went to some food stands for lunch. The clock was a bit underwhelming as crowds gather only to watch a skeleton move its arm, more or less. The food I bought was good, but I couldn’t finish it, it was quite heavy. I made my way back to the hostel and ran into T and E. E was going to do a tour of the castle while T was going to do some exploring by herself. They invited me to join them. I didn’t feel like a tour so I joined T. We walked back to Old Town and saw the Charles’ Bridge, which is quite famous and went to find this beautiful library. We eventually found it, but we had to take a tour. It is connected to an old astronomical tower. The view at the top of the tower was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, we could not take photos of the library, but it was amazing!
After the tour, we got these desserts that are everywhere in Prague. I asked the server what he liked and he said warm apples with ice cream. I ordered it and it was delicious!
That night several of us went to a bar called Illegal Beer and had pork knee. Actually two. We split them among three people. It was too good to not get another. Actually, at this point, vegetables have not really been part of my diet. As I reflect on what I have eaten, I realize it comprises a lot of meat, bread, and beer. The beer here is very cheap! It cheaper than soda.
In a previous post, I met a woman in a bathroom in Budapest who was studying abroad in Prague. This night I was trying to meet up with her. We were messaging back and forth and finally E and I went to a club called Radost. It was pretty empty as it was early for the nightlife. We went to another bar that was closed and E and I returned to the club. There were significantly more people there. The crowd was mainly study abroad Americans and the music was mainly rap. After a time, we went back to the hostel and ended up talking to another friend in the kitchen for a while.
Upon moving into my flat, I met two of my classmates. Seven out of the ten live in the apartment. We have two British and five Americans including myself: G, P, K, H, D, and A. D and A are actually a couple while the rest of us didn’t know each other prior. Friday night, P, K, and I hung out, going to lunch and shopping for dinner. We stayed up several hours talking. D and A tend to keep to themselves in their room with their door shut. G disappeared with his friend. H came the next day and that was a long day. I honestly don’t know how he managed after a long trip!
We walked from our place to the center, which is quite a walk, but we were enjoying each other’s company. If you have followed through the bike trip, you know that I was always in charge of the maps and our two biking companions would ask me what the next day’s ride is. Things haven’t changed and I am in charge of the map and directions getting places. They have since said they have relied on me too much and need to be on their own.
A little about my classmates since I will probably writing about them for a while. G is from England, but has spent time in the States and is more or less our tattoo expert. P is also from England, though she likes to point out that she is from the South and he is from the North. She is quite bubbly and laughs often, which is quite infectious. K is from the States and after having a rough year is looking forward to these adventures. She is always up to do something, which is awesome: “Sounds like the party’s in here!” H is from the States and just finished university like me. In him, I found a running buddy, which helps on cold early morning days. He is the King of jokes that never end. D and A, like I said are a couple, and are from the States. I have not been around them too much like I have said. I have still to meet three more classmates.
We tried meeting up with one, Saturday night. After walking around most of the day, we stopped to get dinner and D and A joined us. I connected to the WIFI in order to communicate with different people such as D and A, then an alumni, and our current classmate, Is. We decided to meet under the astronomical clock at eight. After meeting with G’s friends, H and I waited under the clock for at least ten minutes. We were shouting his name. He told us he was coming with his girlfriend so every man and woman pair we saw we would say his name near them to see if they would react. They didn’t.
We didn’t want to lose the bigger group so we left, feeling a little guilty, but we couldn’t find him. For a few minutes we couldn’t find the bigger group, but right before we took pictures of the castle that H called “Harry Potter’s castle.”
We proceeded to walk around the different light festival exhibitions and got hot wine or mulled wine. It was good. After walking for hours, we finally paused at a bar that served one of the friends’ hometown beer.
The next morning, we all bounced out of bed, ok, it was more like we lethargically, but we managed to get to Café Louvre for brunch. We got there at the right time as a table opened up for us so we didn’t have to wait. The food was delicious and though it was more in the touristy area of town, it wasn’t that expensive. P got so much food, which was hilarious! As the waiter thought she was finished, but she would promptly bring her finger down on another item saying,
H and I got the same breakfast, which included an apple meringue pie. We had a bit of a problem with the bill as we had to split it up amongst us. Coming back to the flat, we got separated yet again. H and I went searching for the other three, but couldn’t find them so we returned. The sun was shining, which was a pleasure. I quickly put on shorts and a t-shirt to go running and enjoyed the neighborhood. H is also a runner so it will be nice to have a running buddy in the future.
In preparing for our first class the next day, we started talking about our interesting facts. H showed us some skills with his thumb and a pen and proceeded to fold his ears inside. G told us he can’t burp. I am still laughing at that night as I am writing this.