Check out was fairly nice and quick. We didn't have too much difficulty at the airport, although security scrutinized my bags while they wre under the x-ray. Then we just had a couple of hours to wait before we could board our flight. - I almost forgot that we got to ride a double-decker bus to the airport. - Boarding for the flight opened late, but we all got on fairly easily. Most of the students fell asleep right away, but I only took a short nap before breakfast was served.
London was enough like the States to not really believe I was anywhere but home. Flying over Prague, I knew I was going somewhere completely different. How can you think you're still back home when every roof is either terra cotta or beautifully aged copper, or when there is a beautiful series of bridges across the same river (the Vltava)? Of course, it really hit that I was in a different country when we got off the plane and all the signs were in a different language.
After getting through customs, I was able to see where to go fairly easily because I could see all the people I'd met in London. Either way, I had this older guy with longish hair and big glasses ask me, "AIFS?" I didn't understand what he'd said until he repeated himself, and he led me to the rest of the group. We waited a minute for our bus to arrive, then on the bus they (Barbora, Zdenek, Jana, and Jana) told us everything we needed to know, giving us maps of the city and passes for the public transportation. We were dropped off at the dorms and were given time to unpack and unwind before going on a bus tour of the city.
The dorms presented the first round of culture shock. The beds are low to the ground, consisting of a pillow and a duvet. There is very little walking space between the beds, let alone in the "kitchen." The kitchene has a sink, a couple very cramped cabinets, a mini-fridge, and two hot plates. We were under the impression that there would be things for our kitchen, like plates, cutlery, maybe a pan or two. We found a total of ... three glasses. We were all supposed to be supplied with two towels each, apparently for use after a shower. These towels are roughly the size of a dish towel.
We unpacked, then headed downstairs to meet again for our tour. On our flight into Prague the pilot had warned us of the possibility of showers that evening. The rain started not long after we began our tour. As we were driven around hte city, "Z" (Zdenek) gave us a narrative about where we were and what the history was. We tried to pay attention, but between the change in time zones, the flying and accompanying early morning, the rain, and the sound of Z's voice, most of us fell asleep on the bus. After a while we all had to wake up, as we had arrived at our dinner location.
Dinner was at a brewery near the dorm. We all had to climb out of the bus and walk down the alley in the rain, but it was worth it. The food was set up buffet-like, and I ahve to admit that 1) I'd been wanting kolace, and 2) I probably had more kolace than I needed.
We walked back to the dorm, thankful that the rain had stopped. Alicia wanted to see the football (soccer) quarter-finals game, so we walked the streets looking for a bar with a TV. We ended up back at he monastary/brewery, but in a different part. Why? They had a sign that read "live music." We had fun trying to translate the menu before we realized that it was written in both English and Czech. A couple girls ordered beers, one ordered a glass of sherry (we were out supporting her, because one of her suitcases had been lost), a couple ordered "palacinka praha" - pancake with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup - and I found out that Europe doesn't let you order a glass of water to be sociable but avoid paying. Water in a restaurant comes in an extra-fancy glass bottle. The music at the brewery was great. Some of it was traditional, some was older, and at 11:00 pm the band played "Auld Lang Syne" to close up. Our waiter was capable of communicating in English, but he dealt with us amicably while we tried to order in Czech. As we left, we vowed that we had to come back to the brewery again.
A view from a street near the dorm
The front of the dorm, through the trees in the park just across the street
Me and my extra special fancy water that I had to pay for!
A glowy, pretty, blurry picture of the city at night