Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our Flat

A tour of our new home, flat, apartment, etc.
Since the realty agency did the pics so nice (basically when it was clean) I am putting up their pics. Believe me, it looks nicer this way.

As you walk up our lovely entrance don't forget to turn the lights on and hurry up before they switch off. No worries, we are the first door on the right. The whole light situation is super annoying if you are chasing a cat up the stairs and right when you are about to grab him the lights turn off and he makes it up another flight of stairs until you are both on the 5th floor. I'm just saying IF that was to happen to you......

Our living room, with combined dining room and kitchen. The couch is a little small. It kinda seems like 2 adults trying to fit on a hobbit (or Dee Dee and Franz's) couch. Nice pull-out sofa bed to those who come visit (don't forget the contact solution).

The other half of the living room showing the dining area and kitchen. The bathroom isn't shown, but it's standard size (not Chicago standard, but normal). It only has a shower, but it did come with a towel warmer on the wall and a tile warmer too. I hope this is not hinting towards winter weather, please no.....

A close-up of the kitchen. Got me one of them fancy ceramic top stoves! I have been testing out the burners to see if I can toast bread on them. Things appear to get really hot here really fast, so stove top toasting is still in an experimental phase.

One half of the bedroom with the window facing the street. The other half just has the bed and armoire. So there you have it, the tour of our apartment without our stuff in it. It look super nice before we unloaded all our junk!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Houskové Knedlíky - Czech bread dumplings

I attempted this weekend to bake. Now, while I love to cook new dishes, I do not like to bake. Mainly, cause I am pretty terrible at it. So I have tried to stay away from it, I mean it's usually stuff that's not good for you anyways. But, Romana and Daša swore to me that Czech dumplings would be easy. So armed with a family recipe with no exact measurements (oh great) from Romana I tried to make them at home. Here are some pics to illustrate my surprisingly successful attempt - who would have thought?

The initial product, so far so good....
Now just have to boil them and hope they get nice and fluffy.

Now, the real Czech secret: How do you cut these babies so that you don't deflate? Why, with thread! Now, since I did not have thread I used dental floss instead. Ahh, now that PhD in Engineering is really paying off!

Voila! Beef with sauce served with dumplings. Just one problem, the beef was a terrible cut and I might need to learn how to make better sauce (bought a box of it). Oh well, the dumplings turned out good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prague Sightseeing

Brian and I finally remembered to bring our camera when we went out.
We went to the Old Town area and looked around on Sunday and
got some nice pictures right at dusk. Below is the Rudolfinum, a
Neo-Renaissance building built in the late 1800's where the Czech
Philharmonic Orchestra is located and hosts many concerts and an art gallery.

Here is a close up of one of the sculptures on the side of the building.

I also caught saw a hot air balloon and thought it looked nice against the sky.

Here is a distant shot of Prague castle. You can't really see the birds in the
picture, but I thought it looked like the opening shot of Frankenstein or Dracula.

I thought this was a funny sign outside of a pub. Nothing is quite as persuasive as a picture of a guy drinking a beer with a big beer belly and big shoes!

This is a TV tower near our flat called Prague Tower in the Žižkov area.
It is the highest tower in Prague and has an observation deck and restaurant.

Can you see those things on the circular posts?
Here, let me zoom in for you:

Yes, those are babies crawling around on the posts. Very interesting art
for a TV tower, they are called “Babies” by the artist David Černý.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The end of the week

Today was our first day of Czech lessons. I guess they want to try the total immersion way of teaching - only speaking Czech. A lot of us were lost most of the time. So I had to come back and ask my co-workers exactly what she was talking about. Seems like the class will have a very steep learning curve.

Brian and I went to the other cafeteria on campus today for lunch. We realized we should really learn some Czech words for food. We thought we got rice and beef in gravy. Ah, how about boiled liver in gravy instead - gross. Earlier this week I was able to get a whole trout with butter and potatoes in the cafeteria. It is a typical Czech meal and it was really good for cafeteria food and being fish. I am trying to eat more fish, because SUPPOSEDLY it's healthier than other meats. Personally, from a researchers' point of view, could the National Cattlemen's Beef Association for consumers, fund research to prove this wrong? Please?

Last thing: For anyone who comes to visit (hopefully a lot) I would really appreciate if you could bring me some contact solution. Turns out here, it costs roughly....wait for it......$30! I will refrain from writing additional descriptive words on this topic. Oh yeah, and no generic versions of it, only name brand.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Patricia and the dead bolt

Well, let's just say this week is not starting off that well. I managed to stub my toe pretty bad chasing Elliot in the building on Sunday night. Monday the alarm didn't go off, we woke up around 9:30 and then I went to the doctor about my foot once I finally got to work. Universal health care here seems pretty easy. Got an x-ray immediately, no broken toe, and I only had to pay about 2 dollars total.

Ah, but what happened today you ask? I got ready to leave for work and couldn't unlock the door. I made the alarm go off twice and had to just wait for it to quit. Brian had to go to the foreign police early in the morning. He locked the door, including the dead bolt. Finally got a hold of our landlady only to find out if someone locks the dead bolt from the outside you cannot open it from the inside. WHY?????

She came over and unlocked the door for me. Future help - we have a 9 foot ladder in the house to escape out the window in case this happens again. Awesome.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Interesting facts about Prague

What have Brian and I learned so far in Prague?

1. Beer is as cheap if not cheaper than water everywhere. Wine isn't that much more expensive either.
2. You can get beer everywhere, even in the university cafeterias.
3. Personal space doesn't appear to exist on the metra.
4. Brian isn't that tall over here, but I am :)
5. Luckily, American movies are in English at the movie theatre.
6. Hall lights must be manually turned on.
7. Water gets really hot here, very fast.
8. Bed comforters here are for one person only and they aren't long enough.
9. Satellite tv comes with about 100 German channels and 2 English channels: BBC world and CNN Europe. Guess which 2 people don't like to watch news?
10. Hatchback cars are the most common in Prague.
11. Hot sauce and fresh hot peppers are hard to find - not cool!
12. Our washing machine takes about 2 hours to wash clothes, and driers aren't common.
13. Czech's version of Coke is 'Kofola' and tastes strangely reminiscent of Jager.....

Going out to the pub

A group of people from my work invited us out to the pub last Thursday. Our first social outing with other people. I mean Brian and I enjoy each other's company, but it is nice to hang out with other people. The pub was a basic bar, but with 2 big differences. First, the food at pubs is suppose to be really good. Unfortunately, we didn't know this and went to KFC (our mistake) before we got to the pub. So we missed out on some really good food, bummer. Second, they had a dance floor at the pub even with a disco ball and lights. Apparently our group really wanted to dance and especially enjoyed dancing to the Grease soundtrack, YMCA, and other cheesy songs. They finally convinced me to go out on the dance floor for 1 song after I had a fernet (similar to Jager). Of course once I got on the dance floor they started playing Czech music. I already can't dance, it gets even worse when I don't even know the song.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Starting a Blog

Someone suggested that Brian and I (let's be honest, just me) should start a blog since we will be in Prague for the next year, and I have noticed that blogging seems to have taken off. Then I got 2 emails from people who also started one, so here I am joining the masses and trying this out. I have never even kept a journal or diary, my grammar isn't great, and facebook is getting WAY too advanced for me, so this should be interesting. Da'ša (pronounced Dasha) in my lab also started one today. We will try it out together and see if either of us can be interesting enough for people to read about our lives.

We got to Prague on Sept. 20 and let's just say taking 2 cats overseas caught a little unwanted attention. Oliver managed to tear the crap out of his carry on during the whole process while Elliot sat quiet and angry. Luckily you couldn't hear them meowing over the airplane engine and a loud kid in front of us. We made it to Prague and may I just say they have the best customs - none. We had temporary housing at a Pension (similar to a hostel private room) and let's just say we were both eager to find a flat. I think the cat hotel was nicer than our accomodations. We had a tv with 2 channels in Czech, no internet or phone and not near anything. We found a flat last week and moved in on Friday of last week. It is super sweet with tall ceilings like my Dad's house and was completely furnished. It even has heated tiles in the bathroom (which we can't figure out how to work) and a towel warmer. We got satellite tv, but only 2 english channels - CNN Europe and BBC world. Awesome - news, my favorite thing ever. The internet gets hooked up on Sunday - I need to watch my TV shows!!! Missing premier week blows big time. Then we can also sign up for skype and be able to communicate to everyone back home.