Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hiking Petřín

This is kind of old news, but last Friday we hiked this beautiful hill in Prague called Petřín. It overlooks the entire city and is a lovely hike. There's a tram that goes up to the top but we're not wusses. Here is the photographic evidence:

My great roommate and I stopped for Chlebíčky (roughly pronounced Hlep-itch-key) to fuel up on the way to the base of the hill. Chleb is the Czech word for bread and the íčky part is the diminutive. These things are basically just open faced sandwiches but the Czechs are very proud of them. This one has goat cheese, some grapes, a piece of tomato, and a tiny little slice of brie on it. Most of them are meaty. 

This statue is at the base of the hill. It's called the "disappearing man" statue. The statue is meant to symbolize the fate of the people living in Czech Republic during communism.

The view of Prague from about half way up the hill. 

The pear orchards on the hill. 

The restaurant near the top of the hill... the waiters must have quads of steel.

The view from the almost top...

From the viewpoint at the tippy top. 

Bernadette and I struggling not to push each other off the hill. Just kidding, we get along great. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Last week, on maybe our third day in Prague, a bunch of us went out to a restaurant in City Center called "Lokal" to try some Czech Cuisine. One of our RAs (a Czech) chose the restaurant and took us there. Luckily, the restaurant provided copies of the menu in English, other wise we would have basically just had to point randomly at the menu and been surprised (risky for vegetarians). Czech cuisine features heavily big pieces of meat with heavy gravy and potatoes. They have some vegetarian entrees, but since there were so few, another vegetarian friend and I decided to order a bunch of small things and split them between the two of us. Our Czech RA thought this was extremely strange. We got fried cheese, bread dumplings, cucumber salad, and mashed potatoes. The fried cheese (Smazeny sry) is basically just a thick patty of Edam cheese breaded and deep fried. The fried cheese arrived completely alone on a plate with a container of tartar sauce on the side. Fried cheese sounds like it might be awesome in the kind of horrible way that, say, spaghetti carbonara or everything Paula Deen has ever made is awesome, but in fact it was just below wellington boots on the rubbery scale and about as ooey gooey melty as human hair. The bread dumplings were basically like a log of stuffing that had been sliced up, minus all the good things about stuffing (i.e. the flavor part). The cucumber salad was in essence shaved cucumber floating in a bowl of vinegar, so you can probably guess how I felt about that. The mashed potatoes were the star of the meal. They were just normal mashed potatoes. Another strange thing revolving around this meal was the fact that one of my friends ordered fried cheese with cabbage, and our Czech RA seemed personally and mortally offended by this. She said that this combination was equally disgusting to eating, say, ice cream and anchovies. She suggested that mashed potatoes would be a more appropriate companion to fried cheese, but since we're talking abotu what's appropriate to put with fried cheese and what isn't, I have to point out that tartar sauce wouldn't have been my first choice sauce. So yeah, I wouldn't go rushing out for more Czech food any time soon. 

Luckily the majority of meals that I've eaten here have been cooked by me in my (super dope) kitchen, so there have been very few unpleasant surprises. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my local super market sells dried melon, which is by far my favorite dried fruit but which I've only ever been able to find at Wilson's in Lexington. A couple strange things about a Czech supermarket:

-You have to weigh and price your own produce, they don't have scales/produce pricing at the checkout. The checkout people are usually pretty annoyed if you forget to do this, which is understandable because it makes you seem to them like you've never interacted with the modern world before.
-You can't just assume that milk is going to be fresh like you can in the United States. There are at least three different types of milk as far as I can tell, and at least two of them you would be very upset to have in your cereal. One is fresh milk, which usually tastes normal. Then there's a type of milk that is "long lasting" that you can keep in your house for about a month, but it's not going to be good tasting for any of that time. The other kind I'm not entirely clear on, but it's either just straight up sour milk or milk that has some kind of probiotic/sour treatment that makes it somehow better for you or easier to digest. Given that it tastes horrible but is kind of bad for you and sounds really official and science-y, I'm actually surprised this hasn't caught on in New York City. But I'll be sticking to fresh milk. Sidenote: the soy milk here is universally icky.

No offense, Prague, and thanks for having gelato stands on every corner.

If you'd like to recreate the poorly reviewed array of Czech cuisine described in this post, follow the links below (this one's for you, Mom and Dad.)

For Knedliky (Bread Dumplings):

For Smazeny Syr (Fried Cheese):
**I don't know how you're going to find Edam cheese, because I'd never heard of it or seen it before coming to Prague. For an easier to find and probably yummier version of this dish, just use Gouda. If you'd like the full experience, serve with tartar sauce.

For Mashed Potatoes:
You probably know how to do this already.

For Cucumber Salad:
Just don't make this, and make some yummy salad instead. This dish is neither palatable nor particularly Czech as far as I can tell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hollah, šovice

Yesterday I arrived in Prague at around 10:15 in the am, which my East Coast/USA brain interpreted as 4:15 in the am. For those of you who are just clocking in, I'm in Prague at one of NYU's many global campuses continuing my studies in music education. My flight out of JFK had about fifteen other NYU students on it, one of whom I was sitting next to on the plane (completely but not at all unpleasantly by accident). We were met at the airport and taken back to our (extremely dope) apartment building, which is called Osadni (creatively named after the street it's located on). Osadni is located in Praha (Praha=Prague in Czech) 7, an area called Holešovice (as far as I can tell this is pronounced something like "whole-a-sho-veet-suh"). My roommate, Bernadette, and I live on the top floor of our building, the fourth floor, although it's actually the fifth floor because in Prague as well as in many other places in Europe the ground floor and the first floor are not created equal. The top/fourth/fifth floor is the one with the (extremely dope) tv lounge, conference/communal living room, balcony, laundry facilities, and practice rooms...and our apartment. Bernadette and I share our kitchen and bathroom with four other girls who live on this floor, but otherwise we're the only ones. Today was our first day of orientation, which mainly consisted of learning about safety and cultural differences in Prague. On a side note, I'm happy to find out that most things are extremely cheap here in Prague. My first shopping trip to stock my kitchen cost me 736 czech crowns, which is equivalent to just over thirty five dollars. Today I bought two small loaves of bread for the equivalent of thirty cents each. Last night the enormous Pilsner Urquells that Bernadette and I got cost 36 czech crowns each, or just shy of two US dollars. In most cases, beer is literally cheaper than water. A much smaller sized brew would have cost probably seven US dollars in any New York City bar. Please enjoy the pictures I've posted below of my experience so far and continue to follow my blog for random tidbits about my travels.  

The top left picture here is of the old town square as we can see it from our NYU classroom building. The top right picture is of the NYU main building, male namesti, which is where you can send me mail if you so desire (not to my building). The bottom left picture is a picture of another one of NYU's buildings, from inside the building although this one looks out on the courtyard. The bottom right picture is of that same building's exterior. This building literally used to be a palace. 

 The left picture is of the "New Town Center," which by new they just mean it's only about six hundred years old. The rightmost picture is of my bedroom. The slanty windows are extremely awesome but can also let in rain in some cases (like last night).

The top two pictures are of my previously mentioned extremely dope kitchen. The botton two pictures are more from Bernadette's and my bedroom. You'll notice in the left picture that there is a functional (we hope) loft. 

The left picture is another shot from inside NYU's palace/classroom building's courtyard. The right picture is the ceiling of the room we had our orientation lecture in.