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Prague Half Marathon

11 Apr

downing some energy jelly beans before the race

Takeaways from my first European half marathon:

1. The course was awesome, very nice sights and totally flat.

2. A flat course is really enjoyable when you trained on a lot of hills.

3. A flat course would have been that much more enjoyable had any of my runs been more than 9 miles.

4. This race definitely had a “European smell.” Never smelt so much B.O. during a race, not pleasant.

5. Only in Czech Republic would you train in freezing (and on a few rare days sub-freezing) temperatures only to have sunny 70-degree weather on race day. It was nice to get some sun, but I was dying of thirst before the third and final water station and when I got there they had run out of water…

6. And only in Czech Republic would they serve tea at the water station (in addition to water and sports drink, thankfully there was still sports drink at the third water stop so I didn’t have to drink tea).

7. Apparently I should walk around in the streets of Prague sweaty and in workout clothes more often. I got hit on in the street after the race more than I’ve ever gotten hit on in street clothes. Granted they were all creepy dudes (one of which greeted me with “Ahoj, baby” –which is pronounced “ahoy” and means “hey” in Czech…) gross…

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Where the Czech Have I Been?

19 Dec

Apologies that the blog hasn’t been updated in a while. I just posted about Berlin, which was a draft that had been saved since the beginning of December.

The lack of posts in the last few weeks has been a combination of things: being without my computer for 5 days while our IT guy configured it for the printer, trouble uploading pictures to WordPress, and, most excitingly, me actually starting to have more of a social life in KV!

Right now I’m stuck in Prague for an extra night because of flight cancellations so I hope to use this downtime to get some more blogs up. If my flights go as planned tomorrow I’ll be home in VA tomorrow afternoon. And with a wifi connection at the parents’ house I hope to get caught up on the blog over winter break. Until then, Vesele Vanoce! (Czech for “Merry Christmas!”)

Three Years and Counting…

20 Nov

Ally and me - Prague 2010

Two weeks ago (the first weekend of November) my cousin Alyson was in Prague for work. She and her husband Alex live in Zurich, Switzerland. (I did visit them in Zurich on my very last weekend of living in Spain last year but never blogged about it – oops!)

I went into Prague Saturday afternoon to meet up with them and hang out for the weekend. It turned out that Ally had to work all day Saturday so Alex and I explored a little on our own in the rainy weather. For dinner we had delicious sushi, which I hadn’t eaten since the summer in the US.

On Sunday we had all day to hang out in Prague, but unfortunately it was another rainy and gross day. We started the day off with a delicious breakfast from a cafe called “Bake Shop.” Full disclosure: we ended up going there three times between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. It was close to our hotel and the hot chocolate and lattes were just so big and tasty, it seemed silly to not go there. We walked around the city center for a bit and went into a lot of shops to get out of the rain.

During our visit we realized that this was the third year in a row that we had spent the first weekend of November together. This might seem inconsequential until you factor in that Ally and Alex lived in Germany from September 2008 until March 2010, and now live in Zurich. And I was in Spain last year. So it’s not like we were just a few hours away on interstate 95 like used to be the case.

Ally and me - Athens 2008, in front of the parliament building

Two years ago I went to Europe to visit Ally and Alex in their new digs in Germany and to travel around Europe a little bit. We actually met up briefly in London first because they were visiting Amy, Ally’s friend from childhood, and I was meeting up with my roommates Ryan and Matt who were traveling in Europe at the same time as me. Then we spent the first weekend of November together in Athens, Greece because Ally had a conference for work (the same conference that brought her to Prague this year).

Then last year our parents all traveled to Europe together to tour around Germany, France, and Switzerland. We spent one weekend together in France where Alex’s family has a house. Then for the first weekend in November I met them all in Lake Como, Italy. We had a really nice time in Bellagio, a small town on the lake.

Ally and me - Lake Como 2009

That brings us up to this year in Prague, which I already detailed for you above. I feel really lucky to have my cousin and friend so close while we’re both living abroad.  It’s great to see her (and Alex!) on a regular basis, and they are always so sweet and let me crash in their hotel rooms 🙂 Ally told me that next year the work conference will be in Lisbon so we’ll have to see if we can make it four in a row…

A Proper Trip to Prague

18 Oct

I had been in the Czech Republic for almost a month without seeing Prague, even though I’m living only a 2-hour bus ride away. I had flown into Prague airport, but then went directly to my boss’ house, and then at the end of my first week of classes I went to the city for a one-day training course. But I spent the day in our Wattsenglish headquarters and didn’t see much of the city other than the bus station and the street where the office is. I didn’t see the castle or the Charles Bridge so I still didn’t know what people were talking about when they said how pretty Prague is. Literally every person that I’ve talked to who has been to Prague has said that they loved it. But I still hadn’t seen why…

Finally last week I had the opportunity to go to Prague and actually see it. And now I understand.

One of the other teachers, Jackie, who I went with to Cesky Kromlov two weeks earlier, had a birthday in early October so we went to Prague to celebrate. It ended up being four of us: me, my roommate Jessica, Jackie, and another teacher from Canada, Lisa.

We got in early Saturday and met up at the clock tower (Jackie and Lisa live in towns on the other side of Prague from KV). After we found the hostel (and experienced none of the problems we had at the hostel we’d booked in Cesky Krumlov, thankfully) we left for a nice afternoon of walking around and enjoying the sunny weather.

We decided to walk up this hill on the opposite side of the river from the city center. There is a funicular (little tram thingy) that goes up the hill, which we were thinking about taking, but the line was incredibly long so we opted for some free exercise.

Along the way we saw the Prague Hunger Wall and wandered into a small, secret garden that reminded me of something from Alice in Wonderland. That image was only reinforced by some people who were smoking pot under the branches of a willow tree.

The hike was really enjoyable, we had some nice views of the city and the castle. From there we wandered back down into town and got some lunch. At that point we had noticed quite a few guys walking around wearing kilts. It was too many for it to be just a coincidence, and then I remembered that Brett, my Scottish contact, had told me a few weeks earlier that Scotland was going to be playing CR in soccer soon. Lucky us, we were in Prague on that weekend.

After lunch we walked across the Charles Bridge and into the Old Town. Our plan had been to get a pint of beer then head back to the hostel and eat some snacks and drink some wine before going out on the town.

That plan went to hell about 5 minutes after we walked into The Dubliner, an Irish pub in the center of Old Town. The place was packed with Scottish guys, many in kilts. We were maybe the second group of females in the entire place so it was no challenge to attract attention from drunk men in skirts. Needless to say, we had more than one pint at The Dubliner and never made it back to the hostel to regroup before going out on the town. We hopped around to a few different bars, making new Scottish friends at every turn, and eventually closed out the night with some cheeseburgers and french fries from a stand in Wenceslas Square.

Sunday morning was a bit rough, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been more grateful for American chains that have migrated abroad. No, not Starbucks or McDonald’s. But TGI Fridays. Yes, there is a TGI Fridays in Prague. Two, actually. I thought it was funny when I saw it on Saturday, but when the girls suggested going there for breakfast/lunch on Sunday morning I was 110% for it.

Jessica and I took the bus home in the afternoon and then, pathetically, actually this is almost too pathetic to write … we stopped at the McDonald’s next to our flat. So not only did I eat greasy TGI Fridays in the morning, I capped the day off with some McNuggets and a hot fudge sundae. This was entirely reminiscent of that day last year in Huelva when Alicia and I went to Burger King in our sweatpants. You can take the girl out of America…