Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I spent Saturday walking around the Bratislava Zoo. The zoo is rather pathetic. The animals aren't cared for very well. The cages are small and uninteresting. I felt bad for the monkeys, my favorite animals to watch, because they had few fun things to play with. They could run up a little branch and back down and then go into their little man-made cave, but that was it. I suppose I enjoy monkeys and apes so much because they remind me of me. One of the monkeys was even eating the kind of green apples that I like to eat. Cool monkeys.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was watching a little kid poop in a portable potty trainer in the middle of a crowd. We were watching some people dance a Folk dance and in the middle of the crowd, these parents pull out a plastic bag and a little toilet seat. I couldn't believe it. In the middle of a hundred people. Who does that? The parents could have easily taken their kid off the path a little for the kid to do his business. It is a regular thing here to see a kid peeing on a tree next to the sidewalk. Absolutely crazy.
That's all for now.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Leaving the castle, we walked across Charles Bridge, a pedestrian only bridge that has a few dozen statues along the side of it. The bridge would be a nice place to hang out except there are scores of street vendors and hundreds of people walking across it or just sitting on the statues.
Hungry from a long morning full of many long walks uphills, we found a Czech restaurant where my parents experienced Svickova, a popular Czech meal that consists of bread dumplings and roast beef. The bread dumplings are absolutely glorious. They are usually about palm-sized and usually made from potatoes.
After lunch, we went to the old Jewish part of the town. We bought tickets to six sites, including five synagogues and a cemetery. The synagogues featured history lessons on Judaism in Prague and Jewish traditions. The cemetery, not bigger than a football field, is said to held hundreds of thousands of corpses. Most notable of all is Rabbi Low whom is said to have created a golum that nearly terrorized Prague.
The next site we saw was the Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Hall. Everyone about has a heart attack whenever they see the Astronomical Clock. At every hour, a statue of a skelton rings a bell and then statues of the twelve disciples rotate through two small doors that open. I'll admit that it's pretty neat, but neat is as far as I would go. People act like they can finally die after seeing the little statues do their thing.
The last site we saw was the giant metronome. Across one of the bridges and above a hill stands a giant metronome. I wish I would have counted the tempo of it. What is most interesting about the metronome is that a statue of Stalin used to stand where the metronome now stands. The statue of Stalin was quite symbolic: Stalin was always watching you.
Speaking of the time under communism, some of my students taught me the phrase "čest prace" (pronounced: Chest Prats-eh), which means something like "Honor or glory to work." Apparently instead of saying, "Dobry Den" (good day) to people on the streets, people were supposed to say "čest prace." I then wondered how many people said this phrase the day after the Velvet Revolution.
Anyway, Saturday morning, we went to the Prague airport where my parents left. I stayed in Prague for most of the day, traveling to Terezin, a small town outside of Prague where Czech Jews were taken during World War II.
Stay tuned for the Metro Mess! Besides the Metro Mess, the trip was absolutely fantastic. Great sites, great times.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Their hotel sits upon a hill above the city. We had to hurry to make it for the 6 p.m. check-in time. Tired from hardly sleeping, my parents could hardly walk up the hill while I lugged their suitcases, one in each hand, having to slow down to wait for them.
That evening, there was a chili cook off, which our stomachs benefited from. The next morning we walked around the Old Town and had lunch with one of my friends at Verne's, one of my favorite restaurants. Fortunately, my dad shared my sentiments about chicken pancakes - they are probably the best plate in the city.
After lunch, the three of us took a bus to the Devin castle. Devin is a town about 30 kilometers outside Bratislava. One of my first Sundays was spent exploring the Devin castle and the area. The castle mesmerized my parents. My mom kept asking, "Where is the moat? I thought castles had moats." I asked where she got that idea from. I believe her response was Cinderella, or some other old film with a castle with a moat.