Friday, August 29, 2008

The Dancing Building




Just another one of those things you'll come across wandering around town. We were making our way from The Globe - a nice little English language bookstore and cafe over to the shopping mall at one of the metros, Novy Smichov at Andel, where they have a few movie theaters, bowling alley, and tons of storefronts - and that's what shops are here, they're what we would think of as just the front of a store - maybe 20 feet wide and if you're lucky 10 feet deep - for a lot of them think, like, Sunglasses Hut in the mall - and that would be a good size for a clothing store in the malls here. The dressing rooms at Macys are bigger than whole stores here. That's not all fair - some of the larger chaings have much larger stores, although nowhere near the size of what where' used to - the largest I've come across so far would be the size of the purse and watch section in the downtown Macys.

Anyway - these pics are of the Dancing Building, or Fred and Ginger - something like that. Yes - it's supposed to look like that - it's super cool in person!!

The end of the line...

She's rather quiet here - it' not understatement, she was fed up, tired, hungry, batting the wind, and we were stuck in who knows where, waiting for a bus that just wasn't coming, and possibly miles away from our house... We had no idea. Listen hard. And it's my very first experiment with the iMovie feature - so apologies as well.

video

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh, you're the American... the only American...

I was meeting with the Finance Department at my school today, seated facing away from the door and the larger room, and looking at a wall and the woman helping me.

A man walked in to the room who obviously worked there - they referred to him as Tony. I'd had some dealings with a man named Tony so turned around and quickly glanced over my shoulder to see who he was. Then I turned back to the matter at hand, trying not to listen in on the group conversation.

He said something and I started to turn again - when I heard "Hey, I recognize you - you're the American student. The only American... how's that make ya feel?" It was said in a very warm and friendly tone but it totally caught me off guard.

I was seated with a bag on my lap, in a chair that covered my clothes and body, I'd had face time of less than 5 seconds, and I had not spoken a word - how in the world did this guy know I was American from the back of my head???

I was seriously stumped.

It really took me a while before I realized he was my advisor and he recognized me from the photo I had to submit when I sent in my application. It really took me a long time before I got there, though, and my confusion probably came through, making me look like a rather slow and bumbling idiot.

He's nice and rather cool - I met up with him later as he had some questions for me - and now he wants me to check out another class and switch me from a BA program to a Masters degree... I have no problem with that. Less time, more interesting and in depth courses and a fancier piece of paper in the end.

I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I'm the American, the sole American, in the school.

School and Coral's dyslexic tutor

We start school on Monday. Coral and I both. I’m a bit nervous, and I’m sure she is too. For me – well, I have European History Political Thought, and Czech – except for the Czech course it’s all in English. Coral will have a ton of classes, and except for her English course it’s all in Czech. I’m trying to get her lined up with a tutor, and so far it looks as though I may be able to trade English tutoring for Czech, but the strongest offer I have is some guy who isn’t sure how great he’d be cause he’s dyslexic and confuses his ‘s’ and ‘z’ – he told me so. There was another pair that he mixes up also, but I can’t remember what they were – it was something odd, I remember that, not the normal US twisty letter pair, but something that didn’t seem to make sense to me. I think – and help me out here if you think I’m off base– but I think that he’d be ok as a tutor if we’re not working on spelling but on speaking and verb declensions.

I found out what the other odd pair was - I and Y - those just don't seem like pairs to switch around... 'j' and 'y' seem more similar to me. Thoughts???

Workin Woman

Jobs – yep, I need one and think I may have two – and since there’ll be two they’ll both be very part time and so I’ll need them both! One may be at my school helping in the library/computer lab area. The other will be working at a small English/French pre-school – ages 3-6 or so, 2 days a week. I should be meeting with both people this week.

BLECH!! BUGS!!!

We keep getting bitten by bugs – lots of little bugs seem to be invading our house while we sleep – and they like the taste of California flesh.

I can remember when Christina was little and she’d get bitten by something and it would really bother her – and I remember hearing that she’d a have a reaction because she wasn’t acclimated to the whatever it was – or something like that. Anyway, it’s got me wondering if we’re just covered in big red welts because we’re not used to the bug bites or their venom or whatever – and that the people who’ve lived here forever might be getting bitten too but their bodies are just used to it and they don’t register it the way we are…. Cause trust me, I’d notice if everyone else had the huge deforming marks Coral and I are sharing at the moment.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The cemetery by our house

I took a quick walk through the cemetery the other day - it was a weekend. The images you see of older people in old movies where they're in the cemetery scrubbing and talking and cleaning and caring for the family plot - well they're based in reality. They are family plots going back generations and there were much older people there with buckets of water scrubbing down the marble, tending to the flowers, and sitting and talking.

It was beautiful and sad.

What really got me, that I noticed after my first look around - was how many people buried there died during the 40's - WWII era. Almost every single headstone had at least one family member who died prematurely during the war. I'll repeat that - almost every single grave had at least one person who died during the war.

That was a different bit of history for me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Things that are not making their way here

It turns out the shipping expenses are astronomical - and that when you use the postal system here and are sending boxes that everything is delivered to the central post office and not your home. It is ridiculous to try to lug big boxes back and forth on the metro, the bus, and then uphill, so our stuff is not on it's merry way.

Which means that the movies and books we have are just about all that we have for entertainment - I mean besides the great city itself, but you can't go sightseeing all the time, and it gets cold and windy and rainy and dark out at night. SO - here's where you can come in... If you happen to one my super savvy techie friends and have a dvd burner maybe you could make a copy of your favorite movie or something and send it along our way... and that way we'll have mail (which we haven't received even an advertisement yet!!! NO JUNK MAIL - can you imagine???) but we'll also have something special just from you that you love and cherish and we can share in. Seriously.

And thanks.

Persiana Jones

So we were at the mall the other day picking up sheets and pillows and household items to replace the stuff that's not headed our direction, and afterwards we stopped for hot dogs (they're about a buck each and really good, more sausages than hot dogs).

A guy walked past me wearing a t-shirt with a familiar image - Harrison Ford in his fully Indy regalia... but the heading on the shirt was ALL WRONG!! It took me a while before it made sense. You figure it out..

Persiana Jones

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scholastic Journeys

We took the bus, the metro, and another bus to Coral’s school today. And then we had to walk quite a way, under a freeway even, to get to the building – which was locked up. That’s ok, we were on an exploratory journey only. It probably took about an hour.

It was quite confusing – apparently there were 3 exits from the metro leading to 3 different bus/tram stations – and we picked the wrong one – the furthest one from where we needed to be in fact. And then there was one bus line that wasn’t functioning as they’re doing road construction. It all worked out.

I have to say, even though the district is desirable and super cool – and nice mix of really old building and contemporary happenings, it feels like a modern city – the building itself and the surrounding buildings are again what appear to be nice within the context of the surroundings but if you picked up the neighborhood and placed it in SF I’d have been hestitant walking around like we were today, wandering through a rather isolated graffiti ridden neighborhood. If you placed it in SF and I couldn’t communicate and didn’t know where it was I wanted to be – there’d be no way I’d have made the trek with Coral. If I needed to be there I’d have hired a cab to take me and show me the way – if I didn’t have my own car (which I don’t here).

However, here it doesn’t feel like that at all. There are lots of beautiful gardens and fountains and a bustling environment surrounding it – and it’s right off the freeway, which is the first freeway I’ve seen, other than the one from the airport.

Tomorrow we’re going to try a shorter version. Hopefully it’s substantially shorter. If not then I’m going to start looking for a closer more convenient school.

Humidity

So for the first few days here it was cool and crisp – Coral has been reluctant to leave the house without a sweatshirt. Yesterday she had her first experience with humidity. Unfortunately that meant I had to deal with it too – and it was the one day I chose to wear layers… layers that couldn’t be removed. I don’t know how people here stay looking so cool and fresh – that is what distinguishes the tourists – they’re sweaty and tired looking.

Last night was a tremendous wind storm and then a lightning storm – I slept on the futon in front of the picture windows and it was AWESOME!! The whole house lit up over and over. I don’t now if you could see if the video, or if I even pointed it out, but the doors here (except for the tub, bathroom & laundry area) are all made out of glass – a wavy glass so you have some privacy but glass nonetheless – and the lightning truly does light up the entire house.

Keeping in clean...

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the cleaners here – not the street cleaners, but rather those household detergents that you find stashed under the sink or in a cupboard waiting for you to remember to scrub something.

They’re awesome! So potent – or possibly, too potent… I’ve yet to lose any skin but I thought I was going to lose my eyeballs – and that was with as much ventilation as possible. I think I should probably invest in some gloves too, just to ensure I keep all layers of my epidermis intact.

Anyway – I may have used too much but – I wanted to clean our gigantic tub (pics as soon as I can get Coral to get over feeling ridiculous and get in the tub to show you the dimensions) and so I squirted a steady stream of this stuff around the edges – keep in mind I’ve had to scrub this place down due to the nice thick layer of fine dust coating everything (and twice as thick on the floor), handwash* what would have otherwise been a few loads of laundry, and bath in the thing, so the tub needed to be cleaned. So the stuff is some of that cleanser that has two separate compartments that only combine when you’re using it…maybe that should have warned me… however, it didn’t. I took my sponge and after a single gentle pass the area beneath me was sparkling – literally sparkling…and I thought it was a trick of the light so I kept on wiping – not even scrubbing cause it was apparent that wasn’t necessary… Yes, just a quick pass and I had a nice shiny sparkling tub. And burning eyeballs, and a fear that maybe my skin wouldn’t all be there when I was done. It was, and now I have a clean tub.

Just in time for more laundry.

*About that – yeah, the manuals I found English translations for every appliance in the house except the washing machine – which is unfortunately less than obvious. I thought it was straightforward but was wrong so I asked my landlord how to work it and he didn’t know either. He took the manual with him so he could try to find the right website or translate it or something, but I haven’t heard back from him yet, so we’re handwashing for the time being. And they don’t use clothing dryers here so we have to air dry everything – as does everyone else – and let me tell you have HATE air-dried towels and jeans. With a passion. I haven’t figured out which of the many bottles in the local Albert are the fabric softener, but I’m hoping that will help once I get some of that squared away.

I think if someone some laundromats near the city center they’d have waves of grateful western customers begging for some dryer time. Just a thought here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Keeping in Contact

So I don't have a Czech home line, nor an internet connection in the house - we're still visiting the cafe on a daily basis until I can get one set up - but I DID set up both skype and iChat accounts - so hit me up with your addresses!!

Thanks much - or - dekujo mockrat!

Our house



A tour of our house

Monday, August 18, 2008

Smoking EVERYWHERE

Okay, so I've already realized that I;m going to be in much better health here, with my changed lifestyle. I walk everywhere, the food I eat isn't as processed, and I don't eat ANY junk/fast food. Yet, I'm starting to wonder if that's just to balance out with all the cigarette smoke I've been breathing in. I've always hated it when people smoked around me, and this just drives me nuts. There are actually ashtrays at restaraunt tables. Employees, when they aren't taking care of customers, because the restaraunt is empty or they're taking a break, smoke inside, usually by the entrance. There are cigarette butts littered everywhere on the sidewalks, filling up drains in the middle of the road. Even in the historical parts of Prague. It's gross.

Our new bed... and more details on the house

Today our landlord delivered our bed – an Ikea type frame with 2 nightstands that match the rest of the furniture in the house. Pretty standard stuff but with a new aspect all the same.

He had stated he was getting a double bed, but this is a true double. He assembled the frame in the morning and came back later in the afternoon with the mattresses. Yes, mattresses, plural.

Not only are there two mattresses (and no, neither one is a box spring) but one side of the mattress is soft and the other side is hard and there is a head and a foot to the mattress as well, you don’t just willy nilly throw it on the bed and lay down, you really have to be mindful or you might end up sleeping on the hard foot part of the mattress when what your really want is the soft head part under your slumbering head.

After we got the mattresses squared away Coral and I rearranged the furniture in our house – you’ve probably seen a few pics of what was already in our house, and thinking OMG JEN! What are you doing lifting that stuff? Are you trying to hurt yourself before you’ve even started school??

Well, another odd thing here, the pretty hard wood floors are not wood at all. At least, I don’t think they are. I can safely say there’s not way these are hard wood planks that have been placed down and fitted together. Coral and I were planning on where to put things and suddenly she started sliding the bureau across the floor… My first instinct, which I acted upon, was to stop her so we could work together and lift it so as not to scratch up the wood (I could just see the horror in my Father’s eyes) – and then I realized we’re standing on some sort of laminate.

Not linoleum or anything I’m familiar with, it’s not the spongy textured stuff at home, it’s super smooth and has ridges where the “seams” are, and from a distance (standing distance) looks like a real wood floor. So we slid the furniture all around the house and now I’m sitting in my redecorated living room – as redecorated as a room can be when you don’t have anything to decorate with.

Oh yeah – almost forgot – the one other cool thing about the floors here – in both the bathroom and the WC you’ll find heated towel racks – not on the floors, those are electric and on the walls - and marble(ish?) floors connected to a thermostat which controls the hot water that heats the floors so you’ll be in a nice toasty warm room during the winter.

Happy Birthday Joan!

Well, I tried to upload you a video but it wouldn't work.... If I can get up I'll have it here - or a link to it. LOVE YOU!! video

Saturday, August 16, 2008

School Pics in Malostrankse Namesti






A few photos of the buildings at my school... It is on a very small square, so the street widens right at the point where my school is, to more of a rectangular shape. The pic with the guy with the head - that's Beethoven. He lived in the building across the street.

Wet Wet Westerners on the Metro

Prague is very wet. It has rained every day so far. Today is the first day I’ve felt cold – Coral’s been complaining that she’s freezing since we got here. It’s really not that cold. I wore jeans today, for the first time, and if I hadn’t been standing in the rain without an umbrella I would have been fine in something more light weight.

We ventured beyond our neighborhood today. Explored the path from our home in to Lesser Town, Mala Strana. It takes one bus and one metro. It’s the same route I’ll take for school, expect I’ll add one more bus after the metro, which will drop me closer to school and allow me to avoid the tourists crush coming off the Charles Bridge. (We did not take pictures of the Bridge, or anything else other than the area immediately surrounding my school – and a cool statue Coral liked hanging over a restaurant.)

We got off the metro and walked around a short bit, took in some of the beautiful architecture, had a seriously overpriced lunch, and made our way back home. We only lasted a few hours as the rain continued throughout our journey.

It wasn’t too much of a challenge finding out stop and getting our ticket and everything. I was thrown off just a bit as I had a weekday bus schedule and we had to take the weekend bus – different numbers on the weekend line. However we managed.

The way back was slightly more exciting. The tram leaving Malostranksa was pretty crowded and Coral and I ended up in the same car, different ends though. When some of the people cleared we ended up sitting across the aisle from each other – for all of one stop. That’s when an older man got on, approached Coral immediately, and started speaking – I thought he wanted to sit down and was asking her to move a bit as her bag was encroaching on the seat next to her. Instead, he was asking for her ticket.

We got hit by the ticket inspector on our first venture out. And it turns out that our tickets had expired. We were hauled off the metro and he took us to the big poster in the middle of the station to show us in English that our ticket was only good for 75 minutes and that we had used that up – and then to show us the other side of the poster which gave him the authority to fine us on the spot – 700 crowns. (We only had about 280 on us.)

I explained and said I needed to find an ATM. We walked up a few flights of stairs, around a few corners, out on to the street and he could not find an ATM. We just kept following him, waiting for him to tell me to pay up. Instead, when it became clear that neither of us had a clue where to go he just handed me back the expired tickets, told me to get new ones, and let us go.

That was super nice of him – we came across him again when we made our way back down to the metros station. He smiled. It was a little scary, no, that’s too strong, it was a little unsettling, but turned out well and wasn’t a bad experience, much more of a learning one.

Sideways Sidewalks

The sidewalks here are a distaster. We walked quite a ways yesterday morning. Far enough to hit first our local Albert, the neighborhood grocery store, and then come upon another Albert. We also came upon 3, maybe 4, pizzerias.

Throughout the entire walk the sidewalks were really torn up – it felt like walking on the side of a very steep hill, they were so slanted at points. Our first day I saw lots of people walking in the street and thought they were crazy – the drivers here are scary!!! It appeared they pedestrians had a suicide wish. Now I get it.

We walked home from coffee last night about 10, in the rain, in the street. It felt safer in to start in the street ( and be able to move out of the way if necessary) than to try to use the sidewalk and risk falling in to the street - which I’ve already done.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First time at the grocery store..Albert in fact.

Okay. Second time at the grocery store today. First time buying anything. We went to Albert, which I consider the Czech equivalent of Albertson's. We were trying to figure out what everything was by the pictures on the labels, though those can be misleading too. Like, we saw butter with sliced ham on the label. We still don't know what that was about. I mean, maybe it was ham, but it had the Czech word for butter on it, and was with all the other things of butter.. Maybe they butter their ham regularly? I don't know. So, when we made our way over to the eggs, we opened the first one, the first thing we noticed was a white feather sticking to one of the eggs. No, not sticking to. Sticking out of. I promise you, no matter how much my mom may deny it, the feather was coming FROM the egg. We didn't buy that one. I wouldn't let us.

Eavesdropping on the tram at Heathrow

Yesterday we had to take a tram across Heathrow (twice). During one of those trips, the one to take us to the correct gate, there were a lot of young-ish British guys just jabbering away. From the tone, ease, and topic of conversation it was apparent they knew each other.

And it was easy to deduce they were not on a business trip, nor headed to a funeral. They were obviously excited and had been looking forward to this trip with the guys. Later on, while on the plane, I noticed they all had matching t-shirts. When getting off the plane I could see the shirts – fashioned after reservoir dogs and a movie billing they were in celelbration of some guy, Panky maybe, and his stag party.

Anyway, back to the tram. There were tons of accents going on, there were more of us in there than rice in a burrito, and every grouping was talking at once. These guys though, they overpowered every one else. And something was bugging me

They sounded like the best friend in Sean of the Dead, Nick something or other….can’t remember it right now. British, yet from the wrong side of town sort of thing. They didn’t look like it at all, but the accent was not at all soothing. And then they started talking about girls – loud. And I was starting to get uncomfortable, hoping that neither Coral or I would be seated next to them (we weren’t seated together for that leg of the flight, but behind each other and finally on a window).

Then I realized I was wrong. Yes, they were talking about girls, and yes the accent was not the upper crust kind of thing, but instead of being rude it was, well....

One guy had been talking about a girl and how she’d become a “mental” and was obsessed, how that’s her life. He was going on and on, about how she was totally engaged with these kids, and her life was so different. How he was grateful he wasn’t driven there and was shocked she went that direction. And then he went on about how she was affecting all these kids and having such a tremendous impact, and what an incredible “mental” she was, and how she just devoted her life to it, and was so loved for it…and on and on with all these complintary attributes of the crazy lady, when it became clear he wasn’t talking about his nutty friend but his good friend, whom he greatly admired, and her chosen path as a mentor.

And yes, Coral was seated next to one of them. But only for a short time, after take off the guy got up and took an empty seat near his friends – they were really up for the party weekend and were all drinking by nine on Thursday morning.

22 Hours of Transit - Santa Rosa to Prague

It was quite exciting – stressful exciting – getting over here.

It started the night before, realizing our luggage wouldn’t fit in the car – not mine or Mom or Dad’s. Fortunately Aunt Margie was able to step in and lend the ‘rents her SUV – which fit us all perfectly.

At the airport Mom helped us get everything to the counter while Dad sat out with the car. The first obstacle came before we even got in line. It was a man with a scale.

Now I bought a luggage scale in order to weight my bags and make sure they were all under the 50 pound limit. And they were just there – barely under limit – and I was satisfied. Then next day I remember to put my luggage locks on. Those have some heft to them. Enough so that when they were weighed at least 2, and maybe 3, bags were over limit. There were 3 of us standing there looking rather guilty, and to Mom he said – next time, just make it at 50 – and let us pass without extra fees. God Bless him – he made it possible to pay my rent this month!


And then…

As you may know (or not), my visa was issue in time for them to paste it in my passport and get it back to me before our departure. Coral’s was not.

At the airport, SFO, the ticket agent did not want to issue our boarding passes as Coral did not have a visa and only had a one way ticket – she needed a visa or a return ticket. Technicaly you are allowed in the country for 90 days without a visa. Technically there shouldn’t have been a problem Fortunately we got to the airport more than 2 hours before our flight because we must have spent an hour taking care of the issue. It was 7:30 and I was on the phone with the Czech Consulate who was telling me to lie

I tried to explain the situation to him and he kept saying – well, just tell her you haven’t decided which countries to visit yet, tell you you just don’t know which one she’ll fly home from, tell her that someone else is making those arrangements, tell her it’s none of her business, tell her to do her job and issue the tickets because letting you in the country is not her problem, tell her we don’t have a problem with no visa and you’ll be fine. While only the first two examples are lies, and the rest are all true, I thought it so funny that he kept telling me to lie just to get us over there cause Immigration could truly care less…. And he was so right!!!!

Flight details

SFO to O’Hare to Heathrow to Prague.


SFO to Chicago, no problem. We found our transfer with ease and waited. And waited and finally boarded a plane that was running late for no apparent reason whatsoever – which I can so in honesty and without facetiousness as the announcing attendant announced it. I started to stress as we only had 2 hours in Heathrow to make our next flight. We ended up leaving relatively soon after our scheduled time and then making up for the delay in the air.

Up until the end it was a rather uneventful flight – decent sort of comfortable seats with individual screens and the airlines version of on-demand entertainment – it was great! Someone, on our side of the plane, in the section behind us had a medical emergency towards the end and there was a call out for doctors or EMTS or nurses which was quickly responded to and things were taken care of.

Getting off the plane was a bit of a process. We ended up rushing through Heathrow trying to find which terminal to go to – there was a total lack of people who might be able to offer direction. Our next leg was on British Airways which uses 2 terminals for European flights, fortunately we picked the right one off the bat because as is we were cutting it close. We knew we had a ways to go and ended up practically running to catch the tram to the right terminal.

We had to go through a pre-security screening and got pulled out of line as we had some water left over from our earlier flights, and they wanted to see your clear baggie of liquids. Got through that and thought we were done until after following rows and rows of queue tape without anyone in them – which was bein guarded by a man who made sure you didn’t just duck under the tape and walk to where the line actually started – we hit the real security. Coral’s bag triggered something – presumably by the empty water bottle. It was pulled out and put in line and eventually searched by hand. The poor guy had to take out, open, and touch everything with his magic wand, then put it all back – and that thing was packed tight!

By the time he had finished our fight was boarding and we didn’t even have our gate number yet. We got directions – Gate 10, downstairs, right there (pointing at the big yellow sign) and made our way down and right past the exchange desk – which I needed as I was unable to exchange funds at SFO as the flight left from domestic not international – and then found we needed to take more elevators, escalators, and another tram to get to the actual gate location.

Our flight was boarding before we got directions so I was a bit stressed as to whether or not we’d make it. We did.

The served us breakfast. Of sorts. They looked like sandwiches, with a choice of bacon, egg, and sausage or soft cheese. Coral and I both took the BES one and she was rather - well she was grossed out. It was an egg salad sandwich with bacon bits and chunks of sausage. She didn’t eat it and I started to stress – what if she doesn’t like the food in Prague either?!?

Arrival time

When we finally arrived in Prague – nearly 20 hours later – I was dreading going through Immigration and Customs – Coral doesn’t have a passport and we have 4 HUGE suitcases. I managed to screw it up on the first attempt. Coral had the heavy carry-on bags, and I had both passports. When I was next we both approached and he sent us both back – I had to approach on my own. So I did. I handed him my passport, he looked at me, he looked at it, he looked at me really hard, looked at it again, scanned it, then flipped a few pages and put a stamp in it. He never even looked at my visa.

When it was Coral’s turn he looked at her, looked at it, scanned it, then flipped a few pages and stamped it.

We completely skipped – what is the nature of your purpose? Are you carrying…?

I was sort of confused and then thought - hey we haven’t yet cleared customs, that was only Immigration - so we proceeded towards baggage claim and Customs.

We had a total or 4 carry-ons and 4 large suitcases. Three of the suitcases were some of the first off the flight. Then we waited. And waited and waited. Finally after the airport had cleared out we had to acknowledge it wasn’t coming. I found the right counter and put in a claim for lost luggage – the had found it already, sitting in London, and were putting it on a flight to arrive at 6:00.

(Meanwhile I know the taxi has been waiting for nearly an hour.)

We gathered our bags – two trolleys worth – and made our way to the exit and customs.

Czech Customs

I wish I’d taken a picture for you. It is a large exit with yellow highlighting and black writing. On the far right side of the wall is a warning that you must declare goods in excess of a certain value. On the far left is the desk where the agents sit. We approached and then stopped as everyone who had been standing about earlier for Customs, while the people from my flight were leaving, had disappeared or were now at the desk. We paused and they pointed around the corner, where I thought we’d have to answer questions or fill out a form or something because we hadn’t even filled out any paperwork or answered a single question yet.

We walked around the corner and thru the doorway, which apparently was the exit.

Not only did they let Coral in the country, they didn’t care or bother to ask us anything at all about our stay, the visas, or our planned departure date.

Future reference


I did manage to get to an exchange office before we hit Immigration. Don’t do it. If you’re planning on visiting check with you bank, with RCU it’s cheaper to just use your ATM or debit card. I needed lots of cash immediately and so that was not an option. I l0st over 1,000 crowns at the airport exchange desks. I knew better but had gotten so frustrated trying to change my money at home I was just going to use the ATMs until I realized I that today I needed more than my daily limit would allow and so took cash. Advance planning!! Banks in SR do not exchange into Czech crowns – you will need to go out of town to do it, or arrange it online and have your funds delivered. Don’t rely on the airport because you will lose. A lot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday night.... 34 hours to go

We have four stuffed suitcases - three of which are in danger of pushing the 50lb limit but I can't check them because I broke my travel scale - the one designed to weight your suitcases....yeah, it sprung apart when I tried to weigh a bag that was over 50 lbs - not the way I thought it would let you know it's too heavy.

I have over 100 pounds (my informed estimate) of clothing in airtight bags, shoes, bedding, etc - waiting to be shipped to me.

And a house to finish cleaning.

Coral wants to read.

I'm tired. I think the traveling portion of this journey will be a break. That's not my usual view when facing layovers and strange airports.

I think you should be able to make a decision, and when it's a major life one you should be able to time travel from the point of decision-making to the instant before implementation. All this waiting and prep work bites. Like mosquitos but worse. And I get bad mosquito bites - swell up like a softball. Yuck.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One Week Left

Yeah, that's all the time we've got left here in the house. Most everything listed on the first post has come true. I may not have read 10 books, but I'm close and there is that whole week left.

We've raided the local library and have 4 unread books sitting on the kitchen table. And bought Breaking Dawn. And my friend gave me a Neil Gaiman book I was looking for - but we're saving the new books for the flight.

Our dog has been re-homed. We're both rather sad.

We're almost done packing - and that's a huge relief!!!

AND tonight is our family going away party - which should be really nice. My sister is visiting right now - she's making tacos for us for dinner before we head over to the grandparents for a few hours of goodbyes. Which is rather funny cause this weekend we'll see them again at their shared birthday party - it had to be rescheduled so now the goodbye party is not our last official family appearance.

Here's our dog in our backyard/temporary construction zone.