Date: Oct 7
Listening to: Game of Thrones TV show (I need something else on my iPad, because I keep watching this series over and over!)
Okay, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a real post; I’ve bee pretty busy writing sample posts/vlogs so I could apply to blog for the CEA, the company that organized my study abroad. Oh, I’ve also been taking artsy videos and doing actual schoolwork- if you’re interested in consumer behavior at all, “I’m With The Brand” by Rob Walker is a really fascinating read with lots of case studies, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to power through it in two days and write a 15-page report about it. A little more time is needed for digestion.
But anyways, I’m back. This weekend, a group of about 12 CEA kids went out to Kutna Hora, a town that rivaled Prague in the 14th century and was the home of the royal mint because of its silver mines. The main appeals were the silver mine and an ossuary, a church decorated with human bones, but the first thing we saw on arrival was St. Barbara’s Cathedral [1.] It’s been described by one of my facebook friends as “the most beautiful cathedral I’ve never seen.” Having seen a few cathedrals in my day, I thought the gargoyles  were pretty cool, as well as the ceiling  and the altar  but far and away the most beautiful part was the view from outside [5.] The leaves had just started turning and it was gorgeous [6.] The exterior of the cathedral  wasn’t bad either [8.]
The next planned activity was the Silver Museum. We were running a little late, so we had to skip the actual museum and go to the more, well, hands-on section. Let’s just say we were ushered into a room with racks of hard hats  and given protective coats and flashlights  (the guy holding the flashlight and explaining was our guide, who spoke excellent English and had a wonderful sense of humor.) I don’t have a picture of myself all dressed for the mine, but here are some of my friends [11.] We proceeded back into the town and a few blocks on regular streets to the entrance of the mine- “The locals are quite used to seeing people dressed like this, but the tourists might take pictures,” the guide explained.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to take pictures underground, in tunnels that are as low as 4 feet and as narrow as 15 inches in some places (not both at once, they tended to be either tall and narrow or short and wide) you’d know that most pictures turn out like this [12.] Knowing that the pictures wouldn’t turn out great, I also tried to take video, but that didn’t quite work out as planned, either. It ended up being lots of darkness, our flashlights waving around at the walls and each other, and one of our responsible adults from the CEA going “Oh my GOSH I almost broke my NECK!” when she hit her head on the low ceiling. We were all pretty grateful for the hard hats. We also sat in a wider area (wide being a relative term) to learn more about the workings of the mine, and the support beams, etc [13.] The mine was one of the coolest things I’ve done so far, although I could have done without the part where we turned off all the lights but one very dim one, to simulate how little light miners would have had when they were relying on small animal-fat lamps in the 14th century. Oh, and then sometimes the miners would knock over their lamps or a gust of wind would- the guide clicked off his dim light, putting us in complete darkness. He described how they would use a kind of Morse code on the support beams if they needed help, but generally would crawl back to the mine entrance in complete darkness. “Any questions?” I couldn’t resist myself: “Yeah, my question is, can we turn our lights back on now?”
After the mine, we went to an excellent, traditional Czech restaurant, where literally everyone else in the party had chicken and I went for a cauliflower dish. It was pretty great! From there, we headed to the ossuary. Apparently, the story is, they needed to clear out an old cemetery in the 1500s, to make room for something else, and they gave a half-blind monk the job of exhuming and arranging the bones. It’s kind of shocking [14.] After walking around a little bit and seeing the giant chandelier  made of human bones, I thought about the fact that these were the remains of 40,000some human beings, and although the coat of arms  looked pretty cool, it felt kind of disrespectful. I know that when I die, I’d much rather be burned and thrown to the wind or buried in a nice forest somewhere than have my bones be photographed by (according to Wikipedia) 200,000 visitors yearly.
Then we went home and slept! But the weekend’s not over yet, that was just Saturday. Today, I did some cleaning, laundry and homework, and then headed to Burgerfest. That’s right, Burgerfest. I had expected some tents with some burgers, probably a bunch of people drinking beer and maybe a stage for a band, but this is what I saw:  pretty much your basic summer festival, Ferris wheel and other rides, lots of tents with different types of food, and lots of candy! I’m glad the environment exceeded expectations, though, because the burger  didn’t, really… maybe Czechs and Americans just have different expectations for burgers. There was nothing wrong with it, per se, but I’m more interested in burgers for the meat content, and Czech-style burgers have more spices and flavorings, so you can barely taste the meat. That’s not saying I threw it away and went to McDonald’s, but it wasn’t what I think of when I think of gourmet burgers. Oh but there was also this,  a piece of bread pudding with a caramelized marshmallow on top. That was definitely worth the trip out to Prague 6. Also there were 20-foot long stalls full of candy  that my friends and I might have perhaps eaten too much of!
All in all, it was a pretty good weekend! Now, to get back into the swing of school for a little bit, on Wednesday I learn if I’ll be blogging for the CEA, and then in a couple of weeks I go on a huge fall break adventure with my mother!