Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Catching Up

Dear faithful readers,

I am sorry for the long gap between entries. Know that I still love you all. With that being said, I am back.

When I last left you I was preparing for the arrival of parents. My week with my parents was amazing and it flew by.

After my parents left Prague, I departed for Paris to visit Lisa.

This past weekend I went to Krakow.

Tomorrow is my birthday.

Until next time


What is that you say? You want the details? Fine.

I will start with my parents journey to Prague. My parents (and only readers of this here blog) arrived on Thursday April first. We hoped in a cab and went over to their hotel in Namesti Republiky. I knew their journey was off to a great start when I had to give our cab driver directions to the hotel… a truly scary notion considering their hotel was in the heart of the city. My folks unpacked and we grabbed some dinner. As my parents evening was winding down, I prepared to go back to my dorm and rest up for the long week ahead of me. That was until I received three different phone calls urging me to join my friends at Radost. After putting up a fight for 5 minutes, I gave in and thus kicked off my week of zero sleep. After a long night of dancing and fun at Radost I went to sleep, only to wake up at 9 to spend the day with my parents. I spent Friday showing my parents around Prague. Friday night my parents took a few of my friends to Jama and we had an awesome dinner. Friday night my parents declined my invitation to join my friends and I at Lucerna for 80’s music night. Their loss. Saturday we spent more time exploring Prague and seeing the sights. After an early dinner, I ditched (sorry) my parents and went on a pub crawl with some of Kacy’s friends who were visiting from all over Europe. Sunday morning I put on my tour guide hat and escorted my parents around Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter. Sunday evening we say Don Giovanni in the marionette ( I spelled marionette correctly on my first try!) theater. Monday morning I met my parents bright and early at the main train station in Prague. Our plan was to spend the day in the western bohemian city of Plzen. Plzen is home of the Pilsner Urquell brewery, the most famous brewery in the Czech Republic. Going to visit the brewery was a sort of pilgrimage I felt I needed to make during my time in the Czech Republic. Anyway, we went on the brewery tour and learned all about beer, and got to try the freshest Pilsner there is, and yes it was delicious. After our lovely tour we went to Na Spilce, a famous Czech restaurant located within the gates of the famous brewery. While waiting for our food a rowdier group of Sparta Praha soccer fans entered the establishment. Known for their mild manners and kindness, I wasn’t to worried about their presence. Within a few minutes of being the establishment, a few bad apples starting brawling. No I never would have imagined a group of soccer fans, in a brewery could get rowdy, but what do I know. Well, as the fighting broke up my parents and I decided it would probably be a good idea to exit the establishment. That was probably a good idea. As we exited at least 200 riot police began to storm Na Splice. These guys were in full riot gear, complete with batons, tear gas, and barking dogs. After that we wandered around Plzen and ventured back to Prague. Monday evening Sara, Celia, Jenny, Walt, Becca and myself went to dinner with my parents. We went to the circle restaurant which I just found was called Kultak. Tuesday I had a midterm and a fieldtrip so I was unable to see my parents. Wednesday was my parents last night in Prague. On the recommendation of my Jewish History professor, we went to a delicious restaurant in the Imperial. After dinner I said my goodbyes to my parents and just like that our week together was over.


Friday morning 3:30 a.m. my alarms sounds. I had fallen asleep a mere 3 hours earlier, yet I was now awake. How could this be? Well, in order to go to Paris for a reasonable price, Becca, Sloyer and I decided to take a 6 am flight. Whoop. By 4 am our Taxi was at our dorm ready to take us to the airport. The most amazing thing happened, Becca was on time that morning. This is because I told her to be downstairs at 3:50. Sorry Becca. Our cab ride was semi frightful. At one point in the ride I looked at the speedometer which read 140 kph or 87 miles per hour. Now it is important to note that from my dorm to the airport there are zero highways. Meaning that we were driving at a speed of 87 miles per hour on normal streets. But we alas we arrived safely at the airport and checked in for our flight. We flew a discount airline called Wizz Air, and the seating is a mad dash to the plane. We arrived at the airport in Paris, however it was not the main airport Charles De Gaul. The airport we flew into was called Beauvais and it was about an hour and a half outside of Paris. So after the long bus ride, a ride on which I had the worst seat on the bus, dead center in the back row, we arrived at the bus station and thanks to the wonderful direction I had gotten from Lisa we made it to the area where our hotel was. After looking for about 30 minutes we found the luxurious Paris Bruxelles Hotel. Lisa came over to the hotel and took us around the Jewish area of Paris, and I finally got to eat my eagerly awaited falafel, which exceeded expectations. We then spent the day touring the city and we had a delicious dinner at some restaurant (great detail… I know). After dinner we were exhausted so we headed back to the hotel, and hopped into our beds. The beds were a testament to my exhaustion, because they were pretty crappy, and didn’t have real pillows.

Saturday we woke up nice and early and again spent the day touring Paris. We went to the Eiffel Tower (where I bought the coolest sunglasses ever), The Toulerise gardens, the Champs Elysse and of course the Longchamp store (kill me). After our long day we went back to Lisa’s to hang out until dinner. Before dinner we went to an awesome underground bar that was definitely playing Hebrew music, so that was cool. We ate dinner at this tiny Italian restaurant and that was really good too. We didn’t finish dinner until about midnight. That really wasn’t an issue, because we had no hotel for the night. You see we had an 8 am flight Sunday morning out of Beauvais. That in itself isn’t too early, but we needed to be at the bus station at 4:45 to take the bus back out to Beauvais. So, we decided we should pull an all nighter. So at around 1:30 Sloyer, Becca and I left Lisa’s apartment and decided to tramp around the mean streets of Paris for a while. We went back to the Champs Elysse and walked around for about 30 minutes, and then took refuge in a semi-shady bar. At 4:15 we hailed a cab and it took us to the bus station. The cab ride was scarier than the one we had taken in Prague. The driver wasn’t a big fan of stopping, so he would just weave in and out of traffic and would just pull uturns instead of waiting for lights. But we made it to the bus and to the airport. By the time we hit Beauvais Sloyer and Becca were pretty zonked, and I was getting my second wind. They did not appreciate my singing of Madonna’s like a prayer (although deep down I know they loved it). We returned to Prague by 10 a.m. and that was Paris.

Coming soon:

Krakow, and my birthday (I have a glow in the dark shirt)!

Also Sara Sloyer took the liberty of writing a birthday blog entry. So read it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fear Not

My blog will return by the end of business today!

I am currently working on a loooooooong entry to catch you up on all of my happenings. Hold tight and get excited.

In the meantime stare at this picture of me and the Krakow Subway Dragon.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Things have been pretty quiet in Prague. But I can’t leave my faithful readers blogless for too long. So I have decided to embark on a weeklong series about all things Prague. That is right, 5 entries in 5 days. Topics will be food, drink, nightlife, school, and a collection of random thoughts that are just pooling in my head.

Today’s topic: Food

Anyone who knows me knows that I am one of the pickiest eaters on Earth. I have always been that way, as a youngin I would eat certain chicken nuggets and not others (and only McDonalds nuggets), I used to refuse to eat anything with grill lines, to my absolute fear of any condiments (still a very prevalent issue). Although I am better than I used to be, I am still pretty picky. So when deciding that I will leave America to go live in Europe for four months, the food was an obvious concern. Would I live Czech food? Would I find food that I liked? Would I be forced to live on McDonalds? Well the good news is that I am not living on McDonalds. So, strap on your seat belts and prepare for a cuisine trip through my eyes.

Eating Out: Back home eating out is always fun. I get to hop in the car and drive to my favorite destination. Eating out in Prague is just as fun. I have some favorite restaurants here and I definitely have some favorite dishes. My favorite dish is obviously Chicken in a Jacket which can be found in the restaurant in my dorm. A quick refresher, Chicken in a Jacket is two breasts of chicken coated in whole cornflakes and fried to perfection. It is so good and even though I always say that I am going to try something new, I have yet to be successful. Another very popular establishment is “The Restaurant in the Circle”. Does this place have a real name? I am sure, but it is down the street from my dorm, and it is in a circle, hence the name. Though pricier than other establishments, this authentic Czech restaurant offers some delicious menu items, including chicken noodle soup. Another very popular cuisine offered in the Czech Republic is Italian food, mainly pizza. There are literally Pizza and Italian restaurants everywhere in the city. The pizza here is consistently good and I have yet to be let down. I have ventured to one Mexican restaurant and will just have to wait until I get home for the good stuff. I also have not had red meat since I landed in London back in January.

In my life I have also never really had pork. Jewish Alex has never been able to sit down and order a pork chop, bacon, sausage and other pork items. This has never been a problem. While it isn’t a problem in the Czech Republic, it is an obstacle. Pork is by far the most favored and common meat here and can sometimes limit my options when dining out.

Fast Food: Back in College Station, I eat a lot of fast food, way too much fast food. But Freebirds, Wendy’s, Blue Baker, Taco Bell and others cook much faster than I do, and for the most part much better. If you were to walk around Prague, especially in Prague 1 (main area of town) you are bound to see a KFC at almost every turn. Don’t worry there are still plenty of McDonalds to be found as well. So, are these two staples of the American fast food scene the same in Prague? Yes and no. McDonalds is basically the same way it is at home. They have a dollar menu with very similar items, they have Big Macs and even chicken nuggets. In my life I have never had a burger in a fast food restaurant, so I have only had 2 items on the McDonalds menu, nuggets and a chicken sandwich. Both of which were equal to their American counterparts. I have only had McDonalds 3 times since my arrival. KFC is the prevalent fast food chain. Again I have only had twice, but I have observed some considerable difference from KFC back home. Pro- The chicken here is much spicier than home. Con- No potato wedges. Pro- It is dirt cheap. Con- Biscuits, non-existent. Then there is Czech fast food. If you were to take a quick walk around Wenceslas square (one of the main areas in town) you will see 8-10 “fast food” stands. These feature Czech favorites like sausage, sausage, sausage, fried cheese, sausage and hot dogs, all of which are smothered in delicious condiments. Again, not being a pork eater or a condiment man I have some issues at these stands. The fried cheese sandwiches are pretty good, but they don’t compare to their counterparts that you find at sit down restaurants. Of course there are also places like Paneria which is a pastry, coffee, sandwich place that is pretty good and ubiquitous. The most important thing about these fast food places and stands are all open late, later than clubs, which makes them invaluable in the late evening/ early morning.

Cooking: I am no chef. I can boil up a mean pot of pasta, throw anything on a grill, add water to many types of soup mixes, microwave anything, and put together a sandwich. Well in my dorm room I have no microwave, no oven, and no real stove. I have a hot plate. So when it is time to cook my options are very limited. Luckily I love plain chicken, because I often find my self pan frying chicken. I am starting to get a little more creative in my preparations. Of course I also make a lot of pasta. At school I make a turkey sandwich almost everyday. I love the stuff. Here, 90% of deli meats are pork products and the turkey just leaves a lot to be desired. My sandwich consumption is down probably 75-80%. BUT Prague has rekindled my love of peanut butter. There isn’t much I haven’t slathered peanut butter on. Basic staples like crackers, pretzels, chips are all the same. Tonight I am going to attempt to make a chicken-Philly… wish me luck.

Join me tomorrow for my musings on all things drink related.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Severe Lack of Beer


How do I blog about a week where nothing happened? This weeks entry will be nice and short.

Last weekend I did absolutely nothing. I laid in bed coughing my lungs out and sipping on cough syrup. By the time Monday came around I was ecstatic to go to class, because that meant I got to go outside. Monday I left super early for class to grab some lunch and work on a presentation. I went to this small pizza place where the highlight was the entire kettle of tea they gave me. The tea was much better then most of medicine I had been taking. Also being sick made me realize how much I have come to love beer in Prague. Being a responsible individual I didn’t drink with all of the medications I was taking. But I am back and trying to make up for lost time (Hence the name of this entry). After class on Monday Walt and I grabbed some donuts and headed back to the dorm, just as some snowflakes began to trickle in. While sitting at our desk in our room we noticed the sky turn a nasty shade of gray. Next thing we know the winds had picked up, the clouds opened up and there was mini blizzard. I don’t care what any haters say, it was a mini blizzard.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. I was lucky enough to have chicken in a jacket on Tuesday night. That is a dish I will never tire of. I keep telling myself that I am going to try something new at the dorm restaurant but I have been unsuccessful thus far. Wednesday I found a tea room before my afternoon class which was awesome because it was basically a coffee shop that served tea instead of coffee, and since I hate coffee, I was very excited.

Thursday night Sara, Sarah, Jenny, Walt, Kacy, Becca and myself were invited to Celia’s parents rented apartment/hotel for a home cooked dinner. The dinner was great and it was really nice to congregate in a place that wasn’t a bar or a dorm room. There was a couch and everything. So I just want to thank my loyal readers the Foxes for a great evening.

See, nice and short, just as promised.

Until next time


Monday, March 8, 2010


The weather turned from bad to worse today when at about 5:15 today a blizzard began. This isn't Texan overreaction to snow. This is a legitimate blizzard. I will keep you updated as the storm progresses. So Plano and College Station, enjoy your 60 degree weather. I'll just enjoy my 20 degree Prague.

On the bright side, I am bored and this will present me with the opportunity for a live blog.

(Five minutes after the first picture was taken)

Update (5:52 PM) Visibility is at an all time low. My spirits remain high despite the dropping temperatures. For those of you concerned about my supply levels, I will update you now. I have 6 beers, a liter of orange juice, a pack of cookies, a pack of crackers, a jar of peanut butter a box of tea, and one donut.

(Tonight's dinner... who knows?)

Update (6:08 PM) We have been joined by Sara and Sarah... they brought grapes

Update (6:15 PM) The snow has ceased... for now

Update (6:16 PM) Kacy has showed up. She brought one sandwich.

The Grizzly Aftermath

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hockej (not a typo)


Another week has gone by and the spring like weather has disappeared. I woke up this morning and was greeted by a blizzard. Whether or not this current snow storm can actually be classified as a blizzard is debatable, but to this Texan it is definitely a blizzard. My classes are all going wonderfully and I am thoroughly enjoying each and everyone of them. I am currently eating lunch at a restaurant and working on a presentation for this Thursday and I am just watching the snow accumulate on the cars and on the streets.

Wednesday night after class I went with AIFS to a Sparta Praha game. We met at the main building of Charles University and took a tram over to the stadium. Being a huge sports fan I was already excited to be going to a live sporting event, but what made the event more exciting was the fact that former Dallas Star Roman Turek was the goalie for the visiting team. I am no hockey expert, just a casual fan, but I am going to go ahead and say that Roman has seen better days. Turek gave up four goals in a crushing loss. Now I feel I should compare a Czech hockey game to an American one.
1. Ticket Prices, my ticket was one of the worst in the stadium, it wasn’t really that high up, however there was definitely a support column smack in the middle of my section. That being said the seat really wasn’t bad and I didn’t miss anything. Had I needed to buy the ticket it would have cost me a total of $7.50, not bad for “professional hockey”.
2. More important than the ticket prices are the beer prices. Head over to Cowboy’s Stadium, the AAC or the Ballpark and be prepared to spend about $8 on a glass of Miller or Coors. Not in the Czech Republic baby. A beer at the game was actually expensive by Czech standards, it cost right around $2. Now add my two beers with the price of a ticket and I just saw a hockey game with refreshment for more than $11. Not too shabby. Maybe the NHL should take note.
3. The fans were definitely different than the ones at home. Fans here had drums, flags, and other noisemaking devices which they used to their hearts content. The two sections directly behind the goals were reserved for the rowdiest of rowdies, the Czech 12th Man™ if you will. These people stood the whole game and were extremely loud and entertaining.
4. The talent on the ice was not anywhere near that of the NHL. This was one of the sloppier hockey games I have ever seen.
5. The gimmicks: Much to my surprise their were some strange gimmicks. Just like at home their were dancers behind the goal dancing to We Will Rock You and the Final Countdown. There were also scantily glad women in charge of cleaning the ice at stoppages, just like at home. I missed hearing Pantera’s Dallas Star song and the thing I missed the most about hockey games in Dallas was the voice of Stars P.A. man Bill Ollerman.
6. Intermissions: At a Stars game or any other professional sporting event at home, the clock strikes 0:00 and people head to the concourses for refreshment and “relief“. After the first period ended the stadium emptied out, this was much to my chagrin as I needed to use the restroom. So I left my seat wandered over to the bathroom and was shocked when there was no line and it was basically empty. I looked over at the concession stands and there were lines, but by no stretch of the imagination were they ridiculously long. So, where did everybody go? Now my eyes wander over to the smoking area. The smoking area is packed with people grabbing an intermission cigarette. Welcome to Prague.

Thursday I was beginning to feel ill and didn’t go out that night. I spent all day yesterday trying to recuperate so I could go see my suitemate Ry take part in the Mr. Erasmus competition. (Erasmus is this huge EU exchange program where students from all over Europe can enroll in other universities for a semester). I was very disappointed when the time to go out last night came and I was unable to join the big group heading to Roxy. I was even more disappointed when I found out that Ry had gotten second place. However this story is a good segway into my introduction of THE Ry Yennie and THE John Goepel. John and Ry are best friends from school. They go to Babson University and have a bromance so strong it is scary. They play rugby at Babson and have joined a club here in Prague. They come home from rugby every night sore and banged up but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying Prague. You will often hear Toto’s Africa blaring out of their room. Ry and John love the Czech beers and the Czech women. I would like to say I am honored to call them my roommates and they are often a source of pride for me. Not many people can claim to have the two craziest, yet nicest suitemates in Prague.

(John in the brown and Ry in the white and my boy Benny B trying to be gangsta behind them)

(A close up for those who are hard of sight)

Until next time


Monday, March 1, 2010

Sue Nak Heave Knock. Hod't Vod't?

Dear Reader,

The title of this entry may be semi-confusing to anyone who doesn't know Hungarian. It means "My name is Sue. How do you Do" and apparently the makers of my map of Budapest felt that this Johnny Cash lyric was a useful phrase. I certainly enjoyed using the phrase. The map also had useful phrases like "Please may I fondle your buttocks?" "Yeah, Whateva" and "Some good undertakers". They also listed some very important phone numbers, like the number to McDonnalds head office in Hungary and to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Our journey to Budapest began on Friday at 4:45 am. Being the genius that I am I thought it would be smart to pack the morning of. Despite being in a massive hurry I made it down to the lobby at 5:20 in time to head to the metro station with my group. We boarded the subway and headed to the Florenc bus station. As we neared Florenc Becca declared that she had been pick pocketed. So she made the executive decision that she was going to head back to the dorm and try to asses the situation. Now of course in typical Becca fashion she had not been pick pocketed, she forgot her wallet on her desk. Unfortunately this caused her to miss our bus and the subsequent trip to Budapest. Sigh. At the bus station I stopped to grab some breakfast, an ice cream cone and a bottle of Pepsi. I knew I was going to need the sugar and caffeine to survive the day. It is also worth noting that this bus station had Dr. Pepper, and I think I am going to have to head back and pick some up.

The bus ride to Budapest was uneventful. They showed the departed dubbed in Czech. Had I actually watched I would have definitely learned some colorful new Czech vocabulary. But alas I elected to sleep instead. Sleeping on the bus proved a little more difficult than I had expected it to. Everyone knows the streets of Prague are cobbled, and it felt like the Czech highways were cobbled as well. Our bus made three stops, one in Brno, one in Bratislava, and one in a town called Gyor.

We arrived in Budapest at around 2 and were met by a receiving line of colorful hobos, gypsies, shysters and charlatans. My group ventured over to the bankomat to withdraw some Hungarian Fuentes (really they are called Forints but we liked Fuentes better). Hungarian money comes in some crazy sounding amounts. I promptly withdraw 10,000 Fuentes, or $49. After buying a metro pass we went to the subway line which was a little more down to earth than the Prague metro. We checked into our hostel and went out for a lunch of traditional Hungarian fast food. I ordered what I believed to be turkey and potatoes, but turns out of Turkish meat and potatoes. It was unique to say the least. I ate half of the huge platter but had to throw in the towel. After lunch we went back to the hostel to map out the rest of our day. We ventured over to the yellow line, which is the oldest subway system in Europe and went to an area called Heroes square. Heroes square is a huge square that has statues of Hungarian heroes throughout the ages. Because it was dark and raining at this point by pictures didn’t really come out, so I am using one taken by someone else. After exploring the square we headed to the famous baths of Budapest. At this point I was drenched and tired and in no mood to frolic in the water and then trek home damp, so along with some of my friends I passed on that cultural experience. It is also worth noting that I am a genius and did not reattach my hood to my jacket before leaving for Budapest. So very wet and hungary (get it?) Stef, Chris, Allie, and myself went to meet up with our friend Adrian who was arriving in Budapest later. We went to a corner store and grabbed some snacks and whatnot. We also picked up some Hungarian beers which couldn’t match Czech beer (hey I may be a little biased). We then went to dinner and met up with the rest of the group and went to a bar and called it an early evening.

The Budapest Metro

Heroes Square

Saturday morning came and we all woke up early ready to face the day. We headed over to an indoor market. The bottom floor was mostly butcher shops and produce stands. The second floor had t-shirts, Russian nesting dolls, puppets, flasks, soccer jerseys etc. We had fun wandering through the stands and seeing all of the crazy stuff we could buy. Walt and Cobra (Jake) bought matching Hungarian soccer track jackets. Pretty ridiculous but pretty awesome. I bought a Ferencvaros FC t-shirt that I pretty sure I will never be able to wear again because I think it is going to shrink into oblivion. Bye bye five dollars. After the market we metroed over to the Terror House which is a museum that chronicles the political torture that happened in the building from the early 1930’s until the end of communism. The museum was very sad and very interesting. A unique feature this museum is that it had a hall of perpetrators, which was a picture of most of the torturers that operated at the sight. Many of them were still alive. It was an interesting way to see people held accountable for their actions. After the Terror House we went to lunch and I had a falafel.

Inside the market.

Some of the quality wares available in the market.

Terror House

After lunch Walt, Ian, Cobra, Allie, Chris and I decided to explore the city on foot. We crossed over to the Buda side of the city and climbed the hill to the Buda Castle. The castle was huge and beautiful. The castle area also provided some of the best views of the city and Pest side of the city. After spending two hours or so exploring the Castle area and we ventured down along the side of the Danube and then crossed back over to Pest.

Our boy band album cover.

Parliament building from the Castle.

Checking out the city.

Saturday night we went to some club that was pretty fun. WARNING: If your name is Sharon Horn skip this paragraph! The Budapest metro closes at the convenient hour of 11:30 PM on Saturdays. So at 11 we decide it is time to head out. Walt, Ian, Jake and I no longer had valid metro passes. So we decided to cross a bridge on the Danube and go to the nearest metro station and buy passes and catch a train to our destination. Everything was going to plan until we reached the middle of the bridge and there was a gate down. Discouraged we went to this little tunnel area that took us to an island hoping that we would be able to finish crossing the river. A nice local told us that we would be unable to do. SERIOUSLY MOM DON'T READ THIS! We arrived back at the gate and were faced with two choices, turn back and find another way across the Danube, or go around the gate, which meant scaling the railing of the bridge. We selected option two and for about 3 seconds each of us was over the Danube. Don't worry dear reader, we were never in any real danger, but the story just sounds so cool. Walt, Cobra, Ian and I can say we MacGyvered a bridge in Budapest. I am probably now wanted by Hungarian authorities, but it was totally worth it.

MOM, you may resume reading now!

Sunday morning we woke up and grabbed some lunch. We then packed up our bags and headed to the Dohany Street Synagogue, the largest Synagogue in Europe. The Synagogue is unique for several reasons, one it is huge. Two it is built in a Moorish style, which means it looks mosque like. The inside of the Synagogue shares many features with European churches. Another cool thing is that Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism was born right next door and was an active member of the Shul. After visiting the actual synagogue we went to the Jewish museum which was in the former community center building. The museum was interesting because it talked a lot about Hungarian Jews and the Holocaust. The final section of the Synagogue was a cemetery where many of Budapest’s Jews were placed in mass graves during the Holocaust and finally a memorial garden for Hungary’s Jews and Raul Wallenberg.
Dohany Street Synagogue

Memorial to Hungarian victims of the Holocaust

After the Synagogue we headed to the bus station and back to Prague.

Here are some more pictures from the weekend.

Me, Ian and Walt checking out Budapest

The answer to your question is no... we will never grow up.

Candy Hop

Jumping Picture Fail

My attempt to keep my jeans dry.

Until next time