Sunday, August 29, 2010

American Meal

So I am going to be cooking an "American" meal for my colleagues/friends from school soon. I have been thinking over and over about what to make for them. First of all, I don't cook. I don't know how to cook, and whenever I do, it doesn't seem to turn out right. Second, what would you consider an "American" meal. We have so many meals we eat in American that I really can't narrow it down to one specific meal. Of course pizza is stereotypical American but they have it here and it came from Italy. Then burgers and french fries but I don't think I can actually buy hamburger buns here....finally, with the help of my American friends here for the weekend, we came up with the perfect meal...SOFT TACOS!!! They have Chinese Restaurants here like we have Mexican Restaurants at my home so I have decided to prepare soft tacos. I know Mexican food isn't "American" but it is what I eat in there you have it.

So the first task was to see if we could gather the indregients...soft shell tortillas, taco seasoning, baked beans, etc. Off to the local grocery store we went and we found ALL that we needed (with the exception of baked beans... no where to be found). We found fajita seasoning which would work just fine and since there is no ground beef anywhere (just pork) we decided on chicken.

Calan, Brock, and I did a practice dinner and had so much fun preparing the food. I had almost cut the tip of my finger off on Friday while cutting bread so I was not allowed to do any chopping. I did the stirring or cleaning up while Brock and Calan prepared a fabulous meal. We had fun taking pictures of our steps along the way because I want to use the pictures for my powerpoint presentation about how it looks to prepare an "American" meal.

After dinner, we had vanilla and chocolate ice cream and ended the night with a DVD....can't be anymore "American" than that. I am now sooooo excited to prepare the meal for my Czech friends and colleagues and give them a taste from home.

What would you consider your favorite "American" meal? I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fulbright Reunion

Calan and Brock came to visit me in Tabor on Friday August 27. It was so wonderful to have someone that speaks fluent English here. I picked up Calan at the train station at 2 and we walked around town and we did a little shopping. Brock arrived around 6 and we got him settled and headed to the town square for some dinner. We decided to go to the new Indian restaraunt and had the best dinner. I am NOT an Indian food fan but they have a "light" curry with chicken and it is amazing.

We toured around town and it was fun playing tour guide to my town when I actually know where things are. I am very proud of Tabor and love showing it off. We ended the night with dessert and a glass of wine at a cafe in the town square.

On Saturday we got up around 8 and headed to the bus station for a trip/adventure to Pisek. It was an hour bus ride from Tabor and recommended by Katerina to go explore. It was very cheap to go by bus and we were looking forward to any adventure the three of us could tackle.

We arrived in Pisek around 11 and weaved our way to the main square. Unfortunately it started POURING down rain on us and we couldn't fully appreciate the beauty around us and we were huddled under our individual umbrellas. Needless to say, we were soaked and found a restaraunt for lunch. We found our way to the "downstairs" of the restaraunt and ordered lunch. Of course our server didn't speak English so we muddled our way through the Czech language to order. I played it safe with pasta and meet sauce and Calan and Brock each ordered a pizza. I sat between the two of them at the bar and let me tell you...when their pizza arrived, the smell of bree cheese completely overwhelmed me and I thought I was going to be sick. They enjoyed their pizzas and I was happy with my pasta so all was good.

After lunch we ventured back upstairs to the rain and walked along the river. The bridge and views of the multi colored buildings was pretty amazing and we had fun playing photographers and exploring.

We took the 2:40 train back to Tabor and during
our hour wait at the bus station we practiced our Czech in the pouring down rain. It was quite
commical to visualize us sitting in the pouring rain, freezing our butts would think it would be miserable but it wasn't...we were all together and we love the time we get to spend
together. It is nice speaking English fast and having people to share those memories with.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coffee, Coffee, and more Coffee

In the center of the town square there are MANY restaraunts and coffee places. It is definitely a cultural experience to meet for coffee or a drink. Almost every place has an outdoor patio type place for sitting and conversing. People will spend hours visiting and catching up with friends.

Depending on what you order, everything is pretty cheap. Most common is the "Presso" or for us Americans, the espresso. It will cost you around $1.50. Then for us snobby coffee drinkers who are use to a Starbucks on every corner, you can oder the "Latte". It comes in a tall glass and is very frothy at the top. It will cost you around $2.50 for the extra taste of home.

No matter what time of the day you will see people sitting at the various coffee houses and socializing with their children or friends. My new favorite spot is the Cafe and Gallery MP7. As you can see from the outside, it looks like you are walking into a dark room but in reality you wind yourself through the indoor seating and through the bar (oh yes...most places have a bar as well) and weave through to the back garden area. It is like in the movies when the main character has an "ah ha" moment and the angels sing and the clouds part. I have found my coffee heaven. You walk into a courtyard full of comfortable seating, water fountains, and even a sandbox for the restless children to play in while parents visit. It will be my new place to unwind, write, and reflect. As you can see in the picture to the right there is an undercover small area to sit if it rains and even a hammock for those super lazy days.

Katerina told me about this place and that it was her favorite and now I can see why. Although I believe that Starbucks would make a million dollars here with the amount of coffee these people drink, you can not beat the relaxting atmosphere this place brings. Coffee here in the Czech republic is more than order coffee, drink it on the go and quickly. It is about soaking in life and your surroundings.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hluboka Castle

There are just sooooo many beautiful castles in Prague. For me, it is like living in a fairy tale, but I am sure it must get old for the locals. I asked my friend Romana and she said that she enjoys going to the castles and loves the history part of it which I enjoy very much as well. We just don't have the history like these castles do in the States.

On Friday, Petra, my mom and I rode the bus to Eva and Lubos' house (Michal's parents). We had a WONDERFUL meal: meat/noodle soup, then dumplings, smoked meat, salad, and potato pancakes, and then ice cream and coffee. FYI...Starbucks would make a killing here for the amount of coffee the Czech people is coffee for everything!!!

Then we all drove to Hluboka Castle. Some would refer it to the Cinderella type castle. It is absolutely breath taking. It is so romantic and majestic. We saw 4 different wedding parties there during the day when we were walking around taking pictures etc. If I had a lot of money (and a guy of course) that would be the place I would want to get married.

Cesky Krumlov

Thanks to Katerina and her family, Romana and her husband took my mom and I to Cesky Krumlov for the day and to the theater at night. We had a WONDEFUL time exploring the town and climbing to the top of the Castle Tower. I cannot even express the amazing 360 degree view you get from up there. After exploring and some minor shopping, Romana and her husband took us out to dinner. We ate so much that I think it should be common practice for a nap after eating...but to the castle for MacBeth.
We had the most unique special experience watching MacBeth from the outdoor revolving theater. The audience sits in the seats (top picture) and the seats rotate around to view the different scenes. It was a visual treat. MacBeth was in Czech soo I didn't understand anything said but just rotating and seeing the outdoor theater was a once in a lifetime experience.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prague mom and I have safely arrived in the Czech Republic. We landed in Prague on Thursday, although it was still Wednesday to us. The plane ride was unexpectantly easy but long. Our driver that picked us up from the hotel forgot to take driving lessons as he seemed to own the road on the way to the hotel. We made it in one piece and checked into Hotel Anna. It is in a beautiful part of Prague...just outside the main tourist area so we are not overwhelmed with people.
Starting day one, we have set out on foot exploring this historic setting. Of course day one, everything looked beyond understanding and no one spoke English. Day two, we both started feeling more comfortable and my basic (and I mean BASIC) understanding of the Czech language has come out to be of some service. The food is AMAZING and very cheap. The beer is spectacular, as expected.
Prague is definitely a city of busy people, going their own way, and trying to get there in a hurry. Not many people speak English until you get to the tourist area of Wenselas Square where there are so many people from all over the world, that broken English seems to be the preferred language.
We got lost on our way back to the hotel and spent most of our time trying to get out of the underground metro system...let me just say THANK GOD for pictures. We couldn't speak the language but pictures seem to be universal. We found our way out and back to our hotel.
I am so appreciative of this experience that I am definitely not going to focus on any negatives but I do have to comment that it was a little weird to see dogs (and we saw MULTIPLE dogs) just peeing on a building or literally pooping on the street corner while their owner stood there, watched, and then walked the dog away without cleaning up the mess. You have to watch where you are walking on the city streets cause you just might step in doggy do do.
Ending on a positve...we have made a new friend in Milano, the owner of the bar/restaraunt next door to our hotel. He has adopted us and made us feel very welcome in his establishment and if you are ever in Prague you have to go to his establishment, U Strecu, and he just might bring out his Gibson guitar and gather the folks into a round of singing and good times.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Czech Group-Washington DC

August 2, 2010 all Fulbright Participants (60 US teachers and 60 international teachers) met for the first time in Washington DC. We were in meetings everyday and had a chance to get to know each other on a social level before we all embarked on our individual adventures. It was amazing to realize how similar education really is all over the world. We all do similar activities but just may call them different names.
Everyone was sooooo nice and amazing and I left the week in DC with MANY new friends and contacts all over the world. I made many life long friends that I am excited to meet up with in the future. Of course the Czech group was the BEST group. All 6 of us (Calan, Brock, Emily-USA and Katerina, Sona, and Jari-Czech) just got along so wonderfully and really hit it off. It was meant to be and all 6 of us definitely built a lifelong friendship!!!
I excited to leave tomorrow, August 11, 2010 to begin my official Czech adventure. I have had a SUPERB 5 days showing Katerina and her amazing family around Lake Stevens and helping them settle in. So many of my friends, colleagues, and family came out to meet her and her family and I know they will take good care of her. I look forward to hearing from everyone on how Katerina has settled right in!!!
Well...the next time I update the blog I will be an official Czech citizen (well...unofficially) but least living in my new home (for a year)....TILL THEN