For better or worse I am back in France now. Vacation already seems like it was a month ago, and I'm thinking more and more about the next one! It's only six weeks away....
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to post, because while I was at McDonald's using the wifi earlier today my computer was being temperamental and didn't want to work for me, so now I'm back at the lycée using the computers in the teacher's lounge. I'll post pictures when I can get wireless again (probably next week, sigh).
That's one thing that is a pain about living in the lycée. The professor's corridor doesn't have phone lines (actually I think only the administrative rooms do here) so it's not even possible to get wireless. I'm lucky that I can use the computers in the professor's loungeand that the room is open until 10:30 PM but still, I would love to have wireless to be able to keep in closer touch with everyone back home on Skype or AIM, and of course just for the convenience and being able to use my own computer. That being said, the rent is unbeatable, €70 per month, which enables all of my travel adventures. And the manager at McDonald's is dreamy, which I guess makes him McDreamy? :)
So I started vacation with about three days in Prague. I arrived late in the afternoon on Friday and was met at the airport by my friend from college, Joanna, who I literally hadn't seen for two years. She is now in her second year teaching English there so she was a great tour guide. The important part of this leg of the trip was seeing Joanna, not so much being touristy, but she did show me all the important sites in Prague. I liked Prague as a city. The historical center was a mix of very cute, Eastern European style buildings with very very old curches and gates and bridges and the castle was pretty neat too. You can't go in the castle, just the cathedral and a basilica, but the complex itself was nice and the cathedral was orgeous. It's on top of a hill so you get an amazing view of the entire city. I even had the privelege of seeing their president while I was there! He lives there and his car drove in while we were entering. He was wearing a pink shirt, quite stylish! I also sampled some local cuisine, this fried cheese thing that I think is called smadjeny? Cheese and fried, can't beat that. Restaurants in Prague (and maybe all over the Czech Republic, I don't know) still list how much the food weighs in grams because under communism that's how your food stamps worked.
It seemed like Joanna was constantly telling me that such and such a thing was a certain way because of communism, and it was really interesting to see the impact that it had made on the country. We visited the Museum of Communism, which was really really interesting. I really hate communism but I'm also fascinated by what happened/happens under it. They had a great film there with authentic footage from what happened all under the communist regime, leaders, protests, etc. It focused more on the protests. Joanna also took me to see a sculpture in a park called The Disappearing Man (pictures of which will definitely be posted). It's a series of sculptures of a man, the first one is complete and then gradually there is less and less of actual human form in each sculpture. It symbolizes how communism destroyed the individual and persons. Very moving. One thing I didn't like about Prague is that outside of the center it wasn't as nice, very communist looking (duuuh) and there was tons of grafitti everywhere. Not the artistic kind, the "Joe was here" kind. Everything there was under construction it seemed, because under communism things really fell into disrepair and they are just now starting to repair them. It will probably be really interesting to go back in a few years and see what they've done with the place! So I liked my time in Prague and it was wonderful to see Joanna face to face again, see her life there and meet her friends. Sure, you can stay in touch with emails and phone calls but that face time is still really important.
Still to come: Italy and Greece!