Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Christmas in the Czech Republic

One of my roommate's (or, in European, "flatmate") invited me to spend Christmas with her family in her hometown. They do the main thing, with CARP, on Christmas Eve (what they call "Christmas") with family. So, on the afternoon of the 25th, I hopped on the bus for a quick one-hour journey north toward the German border.

It was such a weird thing. I was on the bus, just looking out the window. I see this wonderful wall with grass on top and it looks like what used to be a moat surrounding the wall. I was wondering to myself what wonderful place this could be....and then I saw the sign...Terezin. And then there were all the tour signs for the Jewish Ghetto, etc. I would like to go back and have a tour, maybe when the weather warms up a little. And when I'm really ready for a good cry!

The name of the town in Czech is Terezin, but like most things in that region there are Czech names and German names for just about everything.
I didn't read all the detailed history, just the beginning and the end...of the 15,000 kids sent there...93 survived. can people do this to one another??

Here are some pictues (not taken by me...just from Google Images):

The city I was headed to was just a little further on, Litoměřice.
A truly beautiful city. I loved it there! December 26th was a beautiful warm (relatively) and sunny day! So we took off on a hike up a hill. The view of the city was incredible. I spent 2 nights with my friend's family. They were so warm and inviting to me. I had such an excellent time. A wonderful first Christmas in the Czech Republic!

Pictures to come soon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Applying for a Long Stay Visa

To apply for a visa to a country, you have to do it at the country's embassy OUTSIDE of the country. So, in order to apply for my long stay visa for Czech Republic I had to go to the Czech Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia. The embassy takes visa applications from the US, and other "friendly" countries without an appointment between the hours of 10 and 11 Monday through Thursday. In order to be there on time, this required getting on the train in Prague at 12:42 A.M. for arrival in Bratislava around 5:30 a.m. The train was going from Berlin to Budapest but I was lucky to find a seat to commence 5 hours of attempting to sleep sitting straight up. Lucky me.

At 5:30 a.m. nothing in the Bratislava train station is open. I just needed to kill some time, have a cup of coffee, etc. Not even the coffee shop was open. And the train station is open air. There are no main doors, it just opens to the street. So, at 5:30 in the morning, when my options for warmth included only coffee and hot chocolate from the vending machine, I found a place to sit on a ledge (there aren't benches there either) and read.

Finally, around 6:30, the coffee shop opened. I sought out some warmth and a freshly made cappuccino.
Disappointment 1: it wasn't any warmer in there
Disappointment 2: the cappuccino tasted like someone made it yesterday it was the WORST cappuccino of my life
Disappointment 3: the first and ONLY cockroach I have seen since I left New York City was slowly meandering it's way up the wall next to the table where I was sipping the worst cappuccino of my life

Around 8 a.m. I left the train station to head into the city to find the embassy. The bus was dirty ... dirtier than any I've been on in Prague or NYC. I found the embassy. A very unassuming building right next to the American Embassy. The American Embassy had a huge fortress covering the street so no cars could go by without checking in. There were metal detectors and guards and just an overall showy appearance. The Czech Embassy had a red door and a doorbell. I rang the doorbell, told them I was there to apply for a visa, and they buzzed me in.

The process went pretty quickly. I was there for about an hour...not sure why...just waiting around. But I was able to get back to the train station to get the 12:30 p.m. train back to Prague! And I was so happy to be home! I picked up Kazimir from the babysitter (ahoj Sarka!) and headed home to sleep.

Except I wasn't able to sleep. My friend Dave came over and then guilted me into going to movie night at Tim's house. So...I had a VERY long day!

Keep your fingers crossed that the embassy will smile on me and grant my long stay visa!!

the other day in the grocery story

So I was in the grocery store the other day humming along to the music. I didn't really realize I was doing it at first because I was paying more attention to my shopping list than to what I was listening to. Until I started singing along....I was singing along to "I touch myself" by the Divinyls. Lyrics and everything...not elevator music...was playing in the grocery store.

Here's the youtube link so you can reminisce about high school with me!

I love Prague!