Tuesday, June 1, 2010

home and bored with no more nightlife

Helllooooo faithful readers! After various complaints from my dear father (hey dad!!!!!!!!!!!) I've decided to surprise you all (Megan included) with a post-Prague entry on the last few weeks that were never reported on, as well as an epilogue on our new (and way less cool) American lifestyles.

Gran Canaria was a place filled with thugs, burglars, sun, and the beach. Somehow, the last 2 things on that list overshadowed the first two--a feat only accomplished by college students on spring break after a cold Prague winter. The nightlife consisted of a drag queen carnival, which, believe it or not, we did not know was occurring until we arrived and saw all of the costumes. There was a huge party at the town center that included a "Man Band" (not a boy band) singing spanish songs in matching outfits. Not quite up to 50 cent standards, but a quality concert nonetheless.

So after our trip to London, Prague was graced with the presence of both the Huntleys AND the Friedmans! The Friedmans got stuck in Prague for 3 extra days because of that volcano that decided to randomly erupt. Nothing related to nightlife, but my parents were upset that the blog lacked any mention of their appearance. The Huntleys also brought me a new computer (shoutout to the Canary thieves/ police station!!!) We had a fun time with both families (including much needed and appreciated nice meals) and said goodbye to them right before our trip to italia.

And then it was on to our 6 day vacation in the wonderful country of pasta and gelato....ITALY. A volcano was not going to stop us and we arrived in Florence after only a slight bump in our flight plan. MEGAN TURNED 21 AT MIDNIGHT!!!!! WOOHOO!! For her birthday we went to a family style restaurant where they fed us a meal meant for 20 linebackers and had the whole restaurant sing happy birthday to her. As seen below, it took alot of strength to tackle the "small sampling" of the meats they gave us after prosciutto, 3 kinds of soup and 4 kinds of pasta...

Needless to say, going out for Megan's birthday was a tough task after the meal of a lifetime. We could barely stand in the bar and so we called it a night, vowing to re-celebrate in Rome. Our priorities in Italy were made pretty clear after that night...

On to Rome we went, where we celebrated Emily's birthday!! We went out and met some very nice Italians who taught us songs titled "Isabella" in honor of our dear friend Izzy. When asked if she spoke Italian, Megan responded, "YES!! GELATO! TORTELLINI! SPAGHETTI!" (Again, our priorities in Italy were clear). The next night we went to a karaoke bar with our friend Julia, where we wowed the crowd with our passionate rendition of "Man in the Mirror." Overall, Italy was filled with exactly what we wanted: pasta, pizza, gelato, and occasional nights out.

We went on to Amsterdam, where our nightlife expeditions were limited. We were there for Queens Day, which included jam packed streets everywhere you turned and lots of techno concerts.

And at last, to our dismay, it was time for our last few nights in Prague. Our last weekend consisted of an Electronic Beats Festival and our last hurrah at Karlovy (The biggest club in central Europe!!!!!!!!!!!!) The ever popular Lauren Mlynski FINALLY made it to Prague after being previously deterred by that darn volcano. Once again, the Electronic Beats had nothing on 50, but it was a great time with all of our friends. Karlovy was as epic as could be expected, and we soaked in all 5 floors for the last time as we ran back and forth between the "90s floor" and the "ghetto floor," my two passions. It seemed fitting that our last night in the dear Czech Republic would take place at Radost. As we made a large exodus-esque walk to the nearby beloved club/heavenly brunch venue, we soaked in the finally sort-of warm Prague night, and prepared for our last stand. I'd say we left an impact, considering part of the stage collapsed under some nyu students....

Although most of our friends headed home to JFK the next morning, Megan and I made a pit stop in Paris to visit Izzy. Our nightlife consisted of....NOTHING. And it was glorious. We saw some sights, ate some baguettes, had some picnics, drank some wine, had delicious meals, and watched some movies. A relaxing end to an exhausting semester. Megan and I arrived in JFK at 10pm New York time, sad and excited at the same time.

Nightlife since then has been....well....nothing. The jetlag has finally worn off, and I can resume my regular sleeping patterns of waking up at 1pm instead of 7am.

And so, as I sit in Scarsdale, with no possibility of goulash in sight, I say goodbye to you dear followers. It's been real, and I'm happy that I can still say that 50 cent was the best night I've ever had.

(and for the last time....Hey Mom and Dad!!!!!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Already April!?!

A whole month without blogging...
I feel like I have literally travelled the world over these past 3 months, even though I'm not even close. I have been running around weekend to weekend with my friends having the best experiences I could ever ask for, yet I am exhausted and getting excited to be in a real bed at home with nothing to do but eat well and relax.

Canary Islands (March 17-27) was absolutely amazing. We ran into some burglary issues as I mentioned in the last post that really put a damper on the trip...but other than that, it was 10 days in the sun which was needed after a cold, cold Prague winter. We stayed on the island of Gran Canaria and had a great time every day eating fresh oranges and relaxing on the beach.

This picture was taken when a lot of Colgate people came for our last weekend there

Our dinner in Gran Canaria at one of the best tapas restaurants we could find

A picture of the shore as we were leaving

Prague and Plzen
We had a few days in Prague before we were off to our next trip to London, and our friend Nick from Colgate came to visit us. We spent the day in Old Town Square when all of the Easter markets were up, and also visited the Pilsner Urquell Brewery about an hour away in Plzen, CZ.
I'm really glad that we got to visit this other Czech town, and now we've been to three: Cesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora, and Plzen.

Old Town Square more crowded than ever

Amy and I eating chicken sandwiches on top of a stand overlooking the square. The food was so good at the Easter markets!

Nick and I in the Pilsner Brewery

Amy and I in the factory

Our trip to London was a little bit delayed...After our trip to Plzen, Amy and I missed our flight to London because we were stuck in Easter traffic. It was pretty inconvenient, but we managed to get there a day later. We were in London from April 1-April 3, and it was beautiful there. We stayed with our Colgate friends and saw all of the sights. I tried to get to see the Dirty Dancing musical that just opened there, but couldn't find time to do it unfortunately.

Big Ben!
Izzy, Amy, Megan, Katie in front of Millennium Bridge

Katie's dad was nice enough to take us out to tea at the Connaught Hotel where they were staying...so fancy and so much fun! Best smoked salmon sandwiches I've ever had...

Amy, Sam and I at our friends' favorite bar, The Old Crown
Amy, Katie and I
Amy, Izzy and I on top of one of the lions in Trafalgar Square...it was so hard to get up! Random British people had to hoist us up, but in the end it made for some great pictures

I made everyone take this picture against their will, but it needed to happen

Italy for my 21st birthday! As if we hadn't done enough traveling...we decided to brave the Iceland volcano and make it to Italy for 6 days. We were so nervous about our flights to Bologna and then back from Rome, and we had a right to be. Our flight to Bologna ended up being cancelled. Fortunately, they re-routed us to Rome and we just took a train straight to Florence.
We were in Florence from April 20-22, Cinque Terre on April 22, and then Rome from the 22-26. It was by far one of my favorite trips all semester.
My 21st birthday was on April 21st (Golden Birthday!) and was celebrated well in Florence. We took a train to Florence from the Rome airport on the 20th, and even the train itself was beautiful (see picture below).

Once we got into Florence, we tried to explore all of the sights in the one full day that we were there (my birthday). I wanted to make it the "perfect" day, so I woke up early and went with one of my friends who is studying there for a 6 mile run all around the city. She took me up to this Piazza on top of the hill that overlooks the river and the whole city. It was one of the most beautiful runs I have ever been on. After that, I had pizza for breakfast, then visited the Duomo, Uffizi, and the Academia to see The David. Everything was so amazing and beautiful, and it was such a great day. We also had gelato every chance we got...it was so amazing I couldn't turn it down.
The Duomo

Izzy, Stefano and I. We met Stefano at the leather market in Florence and he sold Amy a beautiful leather coat. We hung out with him for a while in the market, he was such a nice guy (and loved taking pictures).

Cafe Megara in Florence!

Early the next morning (April 22), we travelled on to Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. We arrived in Cinque Terre at 9:30 am and hiked through the 5 towns along the coast. This is a very popular thing for people traveling through to do, so everything was clearly marked. We left our suitcases locked in the train station and began our hike from Riomaggiore through Monterosso.
It was so beautiful. We hiked along the coast for 7 hours, but made sure to stop for plenty of pesto pasta and gelato to replenish.
One of the many beautiful trails

The coast

One of the villages we hiked through
The group: myself, Emily, Amy, Izzy, and Schuyler

After a surprisingly exhausting day, we were on to Rome. We took an 8 pm train that got into Rome at midnight and went straight to bed. We were all exhausted (and sweaty) sleeping on the train. Rome was my favorite city that I have been to throughout these past 3 months. It was cultural, beautiful, fun, and just amazing. It was basically raining pasta, gelato, and salami, and there was nothing more I could have asked for. The first few days were rainy but it didn't stop us from running around and seeing everything we could squeeze in. We had all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, which was plenty of time...although I wish we could have stayed longer.

A butcher cutting the biggest piece of salami I've ever seen

The Pope and I in Vatican City

Learning things on my audio guide at the Colosseum

The Colosseum...amazing

Throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain! (Izzy, Emily, Amy and I)

The Spanish Steps

A secret and illegal picture taken in the Sistine Chapel

Long lines to get into St. Peter's

Izzy and I crossing into a new country...Vatican City

I'm even more exhausted after writing this post than I am from traveling. There is simply too much to say.

More to come, we have Amsterdam and Paris left, then New York! I cannot wait to see everyone and show more pictures and tell more stories!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where to Even Begin?

So much has happened in the past few weeks...I don't know where to start.
Here's the most recent:
1. We spent 10 days in the Canary Islands.
2. We went to Plzen, CZ this afternoon and saw the Pilsner Urquell Brewery.
3. We just missed our flight to London.

I'll start with 1.

Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain:
With a group of 25 NYU kids who are studying in Prague, as well as our friend Izzy who is studying in Paris, we decided to take a long 10-day spring break trip to the Canary Islands. We wanted sun and warmth outside of Central Europe, and a nice relaxing vacation with no hectic-will-I-catch-my-plane-?!?!-travels.
Again...doing things the economical way, we took an 8 hour overnight bus to Hahn, Germany which was less than enjoyable, then another 2 hour bus to Frankfurt, a 5-hour layover, then a 4-hour plane to Gran Canaria. The travels were worth the warmth in the end. We stayed at Staycanaria Europa, a hostel that cost $10 a night for each person, had a pool, was close to a Subway (for lunch everyday), and was 5 minutes away from the beach.
It sounds perfect...right? Not so much. It started out great: tanning, beers on the beach, fun ocean water, until one night our guy friends got beat up very badly by 3 Spanish men. The boys did nothing wrong and then men sought them out late at night when they were relaxing on the boardwalk. The boys are fine (thank goodness), but it was definitely a scary part to our trip. We worked through it, until Amy, Izzy and my hostel room was broken into (we think it was the hostel owners). They stole my watch, blackberry, 60 euros, and Amy's laptop. We were very, very upset and nervous. We fought with the hostel managers who had "no idea" what we were talking about and claimed that they didn't "even have a key." Strange that the owner to the hostel wouldn't have a spare key...
Fast-forward to the Gran Canaria police station. Amy, Izzy, and myself sitting with an only spanish-speaking police officer, and the owner of the hostel. The owner said he wanted to "help" us and come with us...we think he had other motives.
We got a very "legitimate" Spanish police report in which they spelled Amy's name "Emy Friedman" and her hometown Scarsdale, Scartsdale. We don't think that police report will help too much.
Anyways, we fought with the owners and felt very upset, but there was only so much we could do. We will not be visiting the Canary Islands again, and will tear down their establishment by poorly rating them on Hostelworld.com.

2. We went to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery today in Plzen, CZ.
It took us 2 hours to get there on bus and the tour was 90 minutes, but it was really cool to see where this beer is made. Pilsner is the main beer that we drink here in Prague, it's served everywhere, from newspaper stands to the nicest restaurants. The Brewery was very big and was built in 1842. So exciting and interesting.

3. We missed our flight to London...oops. We bought another ticket for tomorrow.

Amy wants to blog more later.

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

my boyfriend 50

aaaaand Amy here, in case you couldn't tell by the title of this entry. Our nightlife has been rather crazy lately, but I will do my best to give all of you fans out there the play by play of our recent weeks.

Two weekends ago we had our friends from Barcelona pay us a visit in Prague. Wow! Our first visitors!! (I'll leave the day time activities to Megan). On Friday night we took our friends to one of our favorite spots called Lucerna. Megan loves it because you can dance on the big stage and wave your hands over the crowd as they wave back at you. She feels famous. And we did exactly that with our friends. Our large crew tore up the stage and turned Lucerna into a Colgate frat party. It felt like home. Saturday night we hit up U Sudu (the birthplace of our friend Marge). Keeping with the theme of animals in that place, as well as Megan's most recent entry about the Czech dogs, it was so appropriate that the bartender seemed to have brought his rather large dog to work with him that night. We tried to ask him questions such as the name of his dog, but it soon became apparent that the only English he spoke was the name of the drink you wanted. As usual, the dog just sat at his owner's feet and didn't even acknowledge the crowds of people near him. (Shoutout to my crazy pup Lucy, who I always think of when I see the docile dogs of Prague.) The weekend with our Barcelona friends was filled with fun and was a great success. We will see them again for a weekend in the Canary Islands, where I'm sure there will be plenty of nightlife escapades to blog about.

Now, the real inspiration for this entry was our night this past Friday. Way back in January, almost upon our arrival in this fine country, we found out that none other than 50 CENT was going to be performing in Prague on March 5. We immediately "had to" buy tickets, and have been counting down the days ever since (at least I have). Shoutout to Mom and Dad--I'd like to inform you that this is one of the things I have spent my summer paycheck on. A flight to Amsterdam is another example.

Anyway, the night of Friday March 5 had finally arrived. Megan had flown home to NY for a prestigious interview with Bank of America (which she GOT since she is an economic genius), and rushed back here just in time for the concert. PHEW!!!!! We paid a mere $60 to be in the front standing section, just feet away from 50. I was able to make my way to the front row. THE FRONT ROW. My dream was (is) to be pulled up on stage with him. I put my arms out to him and screamed I LOVE YOU while Megan chanted "GET AMY FRIEDMAN UP ON STAGE." I know he heard us. Instead, 50 chose these 2 "ghetto" czech boys who were standing next to me. They couldn't have been older than 12. The also spoke no English. But they jammed hard with 50 on stage, so shoutout to them. I'm still disappointed that 50 did not feel my dire need to be up on stage with him, but it was still a superb, superb experience and night.

This is not from the concert we were at. Schuyler has all of that footage. I got it off the 50 cent tour website. Deep down I know he's pointing that microphone at me and telling me to come up on stage with him.

After the concert, we were feelin crazy and since we had ANOTHER visitor, we obviouslyyyy had to take him to Lucerna to experience the stage dancing. He (and obviously Megan) loved it. Saturday night we ventured to the 5 story club. We discovered a bottom level that plays the best music. The DJ appropriately played tons of 50 cent as well as a 30 minute mix of Michael Jackson's greatest hits, so I was all around ecstatic.

This weekend is a big one. We have truckloads of Colgate peeps rolling in. AND it is the dear Ms. Lovejoy's 21st birthday celebration. It is sure to be a grand fiesta that will go down in the books (or in this blog).

Also shoutout to the raccoon that is supposedly sitting in my garage at home. He makes it into the nightlife edition since he is nocturnal.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Catching Up

I'm trying to think of things that I have not told you about here in Prague. Amy and I are getting very used to the city: its metro system, language (actually, not at all...), and cultural norms.

We have come to realize that J-Walking is in fact illegal, and you will get dirty looks from the Czechs when you do it.

Dogs co-exist with humans. Seriously. They are on the metro, in stores, and walk around the city without leashes. They all have owners, but are more friends to their owners than inferior. The owner will lean down to their dog before they go into a store and say something long in Czech, we speculate they're saying "Okay, I'm going to go buy some shampoo, cereal, and milk. Do you need anything? Wait right here." Because after they ramble in Czech to their dog, it looks at them and patiently sits outside, no leash, no interest in running after pedestrians. It just waits. Then the owner comes out and the dog trots alongside them. It's a very strange world.

Other random tidbits...
Spain has the best chocolate milk I have ever had in my entire life. Shout out to the Mlynskis...they buy me the Stew Leonard's 99% fat free chocolate milk whenever I come over, and while that chocolate milk is very good (miss you Jenn & John!!!!), Spain's Cacaolat trumps it. I had a layover in Madrid last week and drank 3 bottles at the gate, as well as bought out the store's other 10 bottles and brought them back to Prague on the plane. They're glass bottles so it was annoying, but also SO worth it. I now have 3 left in the fridge and am treasuring them.

The chocolate croissants in prague are INCREDIBLE but izzy is claiming paris has better ones. I believe her.

We leave next Wednesday for our 10 day "holiday in the sun" (sup Mary Kate and Ashley) in the Canary Islands. We have an overnight bus from Prague to Frankfurt and then we fly out from Frankfurt to Gran Canaria. The journey will be miserable, but as is any economical journey we've taken here in Europe.

Amy is reading on the history of Hungary for a presentation. It is a big deal that we are doing work tonight...I have an Economics midterm tomorrow. We have begun using Wikipedia instead of legitimate sources. Here in Prague, it is okay to cite Wikipedia. Strange world.

We went to a 50 cent concert last week. Amy wants to tell you more about it in her third nightlife edition.

The metro system is free here. We have subway passes because we're here for so long, but if you're a tourist or anyone that doesn't use the subway a lot, you can literally ride it for free and only sometimes there are men standing there that check your tickets, but if you don't have one you can just run away.

When homeless people beg on the streets, they lay down on their stomachs with their hands out and today there was a man with his hat on the ground in front of his hands begging for money. We tried to ignore him, but he yelled and gestured for us to look at his hat and there was a rat sitting in the hat. We don't know if it was fake or not but we were scared.

I spilled chocolate milk (obviously) all over my camel jacket and I have to find a dry cleaner.

My Travel Writing teacher drinks wine during class. Last week, she went through 3 glasses of white and couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights. Different culture here...

That's all for now. I can't think of any other weird things in Prague off the top of my head. Sorry if this was a weird post, I didn't travel last weekend!!

Paul and Suz, Amy says that she's telling you not to read this post...I hope you don't listen to her!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barcelona and Madrid

I am so excited to write this post! I LOVE Spain. Amy and I flew in on Thursday night through Frankfurt (we've been there SO many times now), and are very familiar with the airport as well as the airport food. I do know German now...I know how to say "danke."

Anyways, we arrived in BarTHelona at around 7 pm and took the Aerobus to Plaza Catalyuna. Barcelona is probably the most beautiful place I've seen since being abroad. I think it also made such a difference that there was absolutely no snow, and it was close to 60 degrees. I was so incredibly excited to be somewhere warmer than Prague and we just really had the best time.

Amy, Kyle, Schuyler, and our friend Izzy from school (HI IZZYYYY!), stayed with other Colgate boys who are studying abroad in Barcelona. By the end of the trip, there were 15 of us sleeping on the floors of their apartment, but it was still so much fun. I did not realize how great it would be to reunite with my friends from Colgate who I have not seen in so long, and I am excited to have visitors here in Prague for the next 3 weeks. On Thursday, we went out for a quick dinner and out that night to a place called Opium. It was a really great night, and Barcelona has a very exciting nightlife.

My friend Johnny and I in front of Plaza Catalyuna

On Friday, we woke up and walked down Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a street with street performers as well as small shops. We loved taking pictures with the performers and looking at the different stands. It was so crowded and the marketplaces were so different (some sold mice). I also forgot how great it was to be in a place where I understood most of the language. I felt so comfortable speaking Spanish, and it was much easier to understand than Czech (most things are easier...).

A headless man that Izzy is touching

Izzy, Amy and I

Izzy getting "hugged" by a street performer while she was getting her picture taken

Izzy, Amy and I

Schuyler and his girlfriend

Las Ramblas

Izzy and a thirsty, green man

Me with 2 things I cannot get in Prague: good apples and DUNKIN DONUTS COFFEE

Unfortunately, as we were walking down Las Ramblas, Amy got her wallet pickpocketed. It was really unfortunate, but in Madrid we were able to pick her up a new credit card. The interesting part to this story is that when Amy got pickpocketed she was definitely upset, but she got through it and didn't cry or freak out. 5 minutes later, as we were walking through Plaza Catalyuna, about 800 pigeons start circling around us like a cyclone, literally doing laps around the whole Plaza. Amy is SO terrified of pigeons that she immediately starts crying and running away. She was fine when she got pickpocketed...but the birds really got to her (first time I've ever seen Amy cry!).

Plaza Catalyuna

Russell, Izzy, Schuyler and I

Amy pre-attack

Amy post-attack

Later that day, we went to Gaudi's houses:

After we visited the houses, we also saw Segrada Familia. I posted a quote about Segrada Familia below that I found online:

"The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is a work on a grand scale which was begun on 19 March 1882 from a project by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar (1828-1901). At the end of 1883 Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea.

The building is in the centre of Barcelona, and over the years it has become one of the most universal signs of identity of the city and the country. It is visited by millions of people every year and many more study its architectural and religious content.

It has always been an expiatory church, which means that since the outset, 125 years ago now, it has been built from donations. Gaudí himself said: "The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is made by the people and is mirrored in them. It is a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people." The building is still going on and could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century."

Although Segrada Familia is constantly under construction, it was still such an overwhelming and amazing sight to see right when you step out of the subway station. You walk up the subway steps, and there is just this massive masterpiece right in front of you. It looks like it is a big, gothic church that had a bucket of mud thrown over it (...but in the most beautiful way).

Later that night, we went out to a Spanish restaurant and because there were so many of us, the waiter told us that for 10 euros each, he would just bring us tapas until we told him to stop. It was such amazing food, and I have absolutely loved trying different types of foods at these different countries. I cannot believe I was ever a vegetarian, I am eating so much meat here! We went out to different bars and clubs that night, and I truly loved being in Spain. Also, the time is pushed about 4 hours back, so we went out at 2 am and came home at 5 am. I skyped with my parents at 5 am Spain time because it was only 11 pm in Connecticut!

The next day, we woke up at 10 am for our flight to Madrid. For some reason, we thought it was not a problem that our flight was at 10:45 and we were about 40 minutes away from the airport. Needless to say, we missed our flight. We were just so exhausted and had been running around all weekend. It all worked out and we got on a later flight, but we made it to Madrid at 5 pm on Saturday and had to leave at 8 am on Sunday. It was so great to see another city, and I loved Madrid, but it was not the best idea to visit it during this trip. Oh well, we are learning how to travel and do our best.

Finally in Madrid after a long day of traveling

We got to Madrid with no hostel booked and literally roamed the streets on Saturday with our suitcases. We finally found an open hostel and it worked out very well. In Madrid, we saw Plaza Mayor and went out to a Sangria bar that night (best Sangria I've ever had!).

On Sunday, we came back to Prague...exhausted. Amy skyped with her mom when she got home and her mom (hey Suz!!!), said "Honey, it looks like you need a REALLY good night's sleep). So we've been napping...a lot.

Aside from our many trips, Prague is really amazing. I truly love it here and am getting so used to walking down the streets like it is my home. I walk into stores and say, "Dobreden!" and can hold small Czech conversations. I went for a run today and went down a street I had never been on, and I cannot get over that each day I am seeing something new.
Europe is really an amazing place.

All for now, more to come this week! (And Amy is responsible for writing the Barcelona nightlife edition...it's a little much for me).