Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday

I keep thinking that we should be over jet lag by now, but we are not. Almost every time I sit down for longer than ten minutes, I start falling asleep. Unless it's 2:00 am. At that time, I can't sleep. I'm sure we'll get over it soon enough, and I'm sorry to everyone at church today for all of the nodding off I was doing. I will now try to write an entire blog post without falling asleep.

Yesterday our landlord Michal and his family took us to Petřín Hill, where we rode a funicular to the top (apparently, that's a cable car where two tram cars counterbalance each other) and then climbed 299 steps to reach the top of the Petřín Lookout Tower, a (significantly) smaller version of the Eiffel Tower. That's a lot of steps, y'all! As Michal said, "It's very nice sport" to climb them. The view from the top is amazing -- 360 degrees of Prague. (See Phin's post and Seth's post for pictures. I kind of rushed them to finish writing, so there are a few typos. I'll make them fix them later.) I'm not a fan of heights, but I liked that on the way up and down, you're in the open air and have clear views of everything, though obstructed by the criss-crossing structure of the tower. At the top, everything's enclosed in glass (or maybe plexiglass), so it's not quite as cool. (Literally, too. It's pretty cold here! I think it feels about as cold as Teton Valley, even though it was probably about 30 degrees, several degrees warmer than our Southeast Idaho home on any normal winter day.)

After coming down from the tower, we walked down the hill to Malá Strana, passing the German and US Embassies. (If you're interested, read a very interesting story about the German Embassy before the end of the Iron Curtain.) Everything in Malá Strana is old, from the 1600s or so. Looks like somewhere I'd like to go again. (Actually, I'd say that about everywhere we've been so far.)

This morning, we went to church in the Prague Branch. Everyone was delightful. There are lots of Americans and a missionary couple from Australia, so we spoke a lot of English. Many of the Czech members of the branch also speak excellent English (as do our landlord and his wife). This means that our transition to Prague has been pretty easy, but it also means learning Czech could be more difficult. I think the lessened stress might be worth it, as long as Jon doesn't get too stressed out about not learning Czech fast enough, thus negating the relief of stress. (I'm kidding, Jon! Sort of.) I hope that we'll be able to be helpful in the branch, but it's very large and seems to run well, so we'll see. Mira was relieved to find that most of Primary is conducted in both English and Czech (they separate the classes and then come together for Czech singing time at the end). And there's another little American girl her age. Seth immediately found a friend, too, a 9-year-old American boy.

I should mention that both Seth and Mira are making friends with our landlord's children, a 9-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. They can't really talk to each other much, but they manage to play anyway, and I'm happy about that.

This afternoon, Michal and his son took us to Vyšehrad, the oldest part of Prague. And for this, I have pictures!

First, Mira looking pleasant on the tram. (She is pleasant about half the time while we are out and about. It may be the same at home. So she is pleasant about half the time and really whiny and trying the other half of the time. This is what she said at the top of the Petřín tower: "This is so boring!")

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And here are Zed and Phin on the tram. Zed's a little cranky because he's tired and has shin splints. (He perked up later. Also, he never reads my blog, so I think I'll salt it with little comments about him.)

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A big gate in the wall around Vyšehrad. The wall was built in the 1600s.

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The Rotunda of St. Martin, the oldest building in Prague (according to Wikipedia), built in the 11th century. That's a thousand years ago!

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And, finally, Mira in front of one of the doors to the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. All of that colorful stuff is a mosaic, I think.

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I don't know why I don't have a good picture of the church. We went in, but we adults didn't want to pay to look around, so we stayed near the entrance and let the kids go all the way in (they were free). Apparently there's an impressive pipe organ in there. I do have big plans to seek out organ concerts at as many churches as possible while we're here, but I'm waiting until I can stay awake while sitting down.

We also walked through the cemetery, where lots of famous Czechs are buried, including the composers Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana. (I'm listening to Smetana's most famous symphony "Má Vlast" ("My Country") on YouTube right now!) Below are my two favorite statues from the cemetery.

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The photos do not do them justice.

A couple of views as we walked down from Vyšehrad:

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On both of these walks with Michal and his family, the kids have started to get tired and cranky, thinking that they have to walk back the way we came. This is common in our family, since we frequently go hiking and nobody knows where or for how long we are going. Sometimes Jon knows, but often, he's in front, leading us all, and he doesn't know how far we're going, either, or what our destination is or if we even have a destination. But these walks in Prague are different, because wherever we end up, we just take the tram, bus or metro (or some combination thereof) and go home a different way. It's a pleasant surprise for the kids, I think. And Michal is an excellent tour guide! I don't get to hear all of what he's telling us, because I'm often with Mira, bringing up the rear, but he's very knowledgeable about the city and tells us lots of interesting things. Like I said earlier, his English is excellent, and when we occasionally don't understand each other right away, we can switch to German and things clear up immediately. (He speaks many more languages, too. Maybe someday we can be multilingual like that!) He helps us with Czech, too.

Finally, here's a picture of the bottom of one of the glasses in our apartment: "Made in USSR." Pretty cool!

From Europe 2013

2 comments:

  1. Wow! I love this. You are pretty lucky. What a cool landlord you have. You are getting more that you expected, having a personal tour guide. :) Has Jon been going on these outings with you are has he gotten busy with work right away? I'll email you soon. Been busy and sort of sick too. :(
    Love the blogs.

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  2. Yes, Jon is coming with us on our excursions. (I guess I should have more people pictures?) He's taking vacation time this week (although some of it might be turning into sick days), so we could do some site-seeing. And yes! Our landlord is amazing! We like him and his family. Mira even went down to their apartment the other day to play with their daughter for a little while. I hope they teach each other some Czech and English!

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