Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Live Here.

And it's absolute as beautiful as it looks in this video.

FYI: I'm not leaving Prague any time soon after all. So now is the time for you to think up some excuse to come see me. You have until August or September. 

— J

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Day 2011

After another month of blog silence (because I'm lazy and really no other reason) and now it's time for Thanksgiving. 

Turkey all prepped and ready to get in the oven.
Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite celebration of the year. It even beats my birthday. Thanksgiving is celebrated with the four Fs: Family, Friends, Food, Football. I mean really, what else do you need in life.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back From the Dead

... or something like that.

It's been more than a month since my last blog post and my best friend's mom had to message me on Facebook to make sure that I'm still alive. 

Indeed I am. Honestly, I haven't been feeling particularly inspired to write. The thing about living abroad is that at some point, you're just living somewhere. Eventually, wherever is exotic and cool for your friends and family just becomes the place to do your everyday, routine junk. 

I'll be damned if I let Prague become just another place I've lived. 

Luckily, Autumn is here and although it's a season in which nature is slowly moving into short-term death, aka Winter, (only to be reborn again in the Spring), it's one of my favorite seasons. It is also responsible for renewing that "Holy crap I live here" feeling. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Na zdraví!

I was so proud of myself earlier this year because I managed to avoid getting sick all winter. I always get sick and I got sick all the time in Taiwan. I was especially proud because it was my first time living somewhere that actually has a real winter and so I was sure I was going to end up with some death illness.

Looks like the death illness decided to wait until Autumn to show up. 

I've had the sniffles for a couple of weeks now since the weather has gone from hot to chilly to warm to cold. Continual changes in weather always land me with a bit of a cold, but usually no big deal. I'm an American so I generally choose to ignore it and keep going to work.

Then I got exposed to little kid germs via my roommate and all of her co-workers who work with children as well as another friend of mine who was out of work for a week. 

All bets were off after that. There was no avoiding the clammy grip of this one.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life is Like a Rollercoaster

All summer, and especially this last month, has been an absolute carnival ride. 

Everything has been happening so quickly that I haven't really had time to soak it all in. There was my visit from Ricky. Then traveling with my sister which included whirlwind tours of Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest

Then there was another quick weekend 'on the cottage' (as the Czechs like to say) with some friends and a raging good time for Prague's first Pride weekend

Next thing I knew, August was nearly over, my class schedule was changing weekly as my students were taking last minute holidays, I got a new roommate and it was bloody hot outside so we had a water fight. What else do you do when it's more than 30°C?

The anniversary of my first landing in Prague came and went and one of the members of my little, close-knit group of friends went back home to California

Now all of a sudden it's officially Autumn again (seriously my new favorite season). It's nearly October and my new regular class schedule is starting to settle in. Boy, is it going to be a busy one. I'm looking at three early mornings each week and lots of late evenings.

It'll be worth it in the end.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Most Depressing Post to Date

Today is a bit depressing and the dreary weather is absolutely matching it. I guess it's all been building up to this, but sometimes the expat life can be especially sad.

Saying Goodbye
Last night we went to dinner for the last time with Lauren. 
 I met Lauren one year ago - tomorrow. She was the first girl I met in Prague. We were the only two people in our TEFL course with any prior teaching experience. We were fast friends. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Water Fight 2011!

Remember a couple of year ago when we had a big water gun fight in the park in Taiwan?

No? Read here to catch up.

So I decided that we could have an equally awesome time doing something similar here in Prague. And I was right.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I think of Prague as a very progressive and tolerant city so I was surprised when I found out that this year's Pride festival was the first one in the capital.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pride: Have you been living under a rock?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Under Consideration

I love Prague. I really really do. But my bank account does not love Prague.

Really, what's not to love?
I'm currently considering moving to the UAE (either Dubai or Abu Dhabi) in January. I would make significantly more than I do now (or ever have actually) for about the same amount of work. I'd still be teaching. I'd still be teaching adults.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lazy Summer

Things have been awfully slow around here. For those of you who know me well, you know that when I don't have pressing concerns, I get unmotivated in basically all areas of my life. 

I've been working somewhere between 8 and 15 (if I'm lucky) hours per week. That and with at least one of my friends on holiday each week (if not more) and all our schedules being different, it's difficult to get folks together.  With hardly any reason to get out of bed and with my job feeling more like a quick errand to run only a few days per week, I've been spending a lot of time doing a whole lot of nothing.

Stupid, I know. 

Friday, July 22, 2011


First things first, Budapest (pronounced boo-duh-pesht) is officially my second favorite city in Europe. There's still plenty of room for that to change given that I've only been to seven European countries, but for now, Budapest is in line right behind Prague.

Buda from Pest

It's big, but not that big. (Two cities in one!)

It's walkable.

It's affordable.

There's a healthy drinking culture.

They have amazing food.

They have a millionty spa baths.

I could basically stop right there and be satisfied (with this blog post that is), but I know you would be disappointed so I'll delve further into our 2.5 days in Budapest.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Oh Bratislava, how adorable you are. After traipsing around sprawling Vienna, Bratislava (from here on B'lava) was super easy. I recommend it as a good two-day trip. (Or really two nights/one day).

My sister and I got to B'lava at a decent time in the evening and once we got ourselves oriented we decided to do a bit of wandering, get some food and then call it a night early so that we could have a full day the next day. It would be our only real full day anyway.

It was a good plan anyway because it decided to start raining again not that long after we arrived. Weather did not approve of our taking a vacation.

But I kind of enjoy the night time rainy pictures. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two Days in Vienna

So my sister and I did a whirlwind Eurotrip while she was here and part of that was about two days in Vienna. We arrived in the last evening by train and went straight to hour hotel. That is once we figured out how to get there from the random train station we got dropped off at.

She booked us a swank hotel room.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Visitor

Summer has arrived and it's been all sorts of insanity around here. Despite the fact that I have significantly less classes to teach (and it appears as though that number will continue to dwindle...) it's been busy. 

My friend Ricky came to visit for a week and I was so excited to finally get to play tour guide. 

Ricky is a friend of mine that I've known since my second year of college. That was a long time ago. We haven't seen each other in about two years because after college I decided to move across the globe. He decided to move to Amarillo. So even when I was back State-side, we didn't have the opportunity to hang out. 

Sad. I know.

Day trip: Tábor

While my college friend Ricky was in the country I decided I had to get him outside of Prague even if it was just for a quick day trip. You can't come all the way to Europe and only go to one city. Besides, the Czech Republic has a rich history and it's worth learning about.

I had a million and one options but I decided that we should go to Tábor. Don't ask why. It sounded interesting. I'm sort of a history nerd and I love learning about religion. Tábor is a town overflowing with religious history so it was like a goldmine for me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fail. Blog.

I know I'm a big failure at blogging in all forms. It's been busy around here.

In June I: Explored Prague with a friend. Went to Tabor. Went to a music festival outside of Prague. Went to a friend's village and went to a cute festival celebrating their fire department. Drank two bottles of champagne at a music festival in Prague.

Then so far in July I have: Acted as a tour guide in Prague for my sister. Ate Sacher Torte and Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna. Ate Bryndzové Halušky in Bratislava. Drank wine and ate chicken paprikash in Budapest. 

I promise that I will begin to recount my adventures since the beginning of June for you soon. 

Until then, pictures on Eyes of a Traveling Texan will have to suffice. It has been all updated.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Secrets I Will Tell

I have a secret. It's a big secret. People in America would flip out if this situation were reversed.

Until about 10 a.m. today, I was technically an illegal immigrant.

Let's debrief.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chats With Seester

me:  uhm, the hotel you booked in vienna says COMPLIMENTARY MINI BAR
did i read that right?
 Gwen:  Most do.  :-)
 me:  i thought most places you pay for the stuff in the mini bar
which is why i never touch the stuff
i'm afraid of those prices
and [there's] a freaking crystal chandelier [!]
what up!
i'm so not classy enough for this place
i'm 25 and my friends like to mix boxed wine with coca-cola
 Gwen:  Clarification: most in Vienna offer complimentary mini-bar
 me:  ex.ci.ted.
 Gwen:  Vienna isn't a dive bar.
 me:  neither is prague
just my life 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pražský Hrad

I've been to Prague Castle about a hundred times since I've lived in Prague (Nearly six months! Woot!) because we don't have castles where I'm from and so every time I see it I'm like "EEK!". (Typical American reaction.) But I've never paid the cash to actually go inside stuff. I usually just walk about the general area and marvel at everything. There was the one time I went inside St. Vitus Cathedral, but it's free as long as you stay in the back portion of the church where you have to use your zoom for pictures.

Part of the reason I had been holding out on spending the dough is that I knew eventually I would have visitors and they would want to go. I don't want to pay for this 12 thousand times. It ain't cheap. At least not on my salary.

So I finally got a visitor and he was uber-excited about Prague Castle so we forked out the money to get to go inside and see stuff. I have to say, it was actually worth it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Illusions of Glamour

So people have this idea that I (and those like me) lead a super glamorous life or something. I'm not really sure where they got that idea. (Couldn't be this blog. I mean really...)


Sure, I live in Europe in the center-ish of a major capital city. I go out with my friends all the time. I'm learning (yet) a(nother) foreign language and their are lots of hot European men. But don't get me wrong, this is not a super posh life.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chats With Seester... Continued

Four weeks until my sister gets here. I can't wait!
Gwen: "I'm trying to learn basic Czech phrases!" 
Me: "Yay!"
Gwen: "(hard!)" 
Me: As long as you can say "Dobry den," "Děkuju," "Na Shledanou," and "Jedno pivo prosim," you'll be fine.

Really, what else do you need to know besides, "Hello," "Thank you," "Bye," and "One beer please," when visiting the Czech Republic?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Best Month Ever

Uhm, did anyone else notice that tomorrow is June?

This means that I've been in Prague for five months and holy cow has it been a whirl wind! I know I'll be here (at least) until this time next year and the way things are going that has me believing it might be over before I realize it's even begun.

It's amazing all the things that have happened already, but I feel like there's so much more to see and do!

But at least I'll be seeing a lot of Bohemia this summer. With my friend from college (almost wrote university...) coming in this weekend and my sister coming in July, I'll have plenty of opportunity to see things.

I'm thinking Moravia in the fall/winter. Anybody want to come visit this winter?

However, I will say that thus far, May has clearly been the best month.

We have our standard things to do like the beer garden and the park on Sundays. But we have been doing such a great job at finding new and different things to go do. It's only going to get better too. In the coming month there's the Prague Museum Night (I love museums!) and the United Islands (music) Festival.

Man, I love this place.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The ladies over at Jet Setting Divas pointed blog readers in the direction of this travel profile quiz hosted by American Express' Travel site. 

I love things that try to tell me who I am 'cause they're usually super hi-larious. Though I will say I'm quite pleased with these results. I think they fit me to a T.

Apparently I'm a Gastronaut. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Attention World Sports Fans

I'm sure you all know that I'm a huge (American) football fan. I love it. I mean, I grew up in East Texas after all. 

I started going to high school football games with my friend when we were in middle school. This town was seriously the epitome of Friday Night Lights. Her sister was on the drill team (if you don't know what a drill team is beyond a military context you're in for a world of bewilderment) and her parents went to every single home game - and some road games - and took us with them. 

Then in high school I was required to go to football games as I was in marching band. Keep your band camp jokes to yourself. But even if I weren't required to go, I definitely would have been there every Friday night. 

Going to one of the largest universities in the country with one of the best funded football programs certainly only fueled my obsession further.

I love football, y'all. 

I love this sort of pride.
And it's with that kind of excitement which I observed of Czechs going crazy during the World Hockey Championships recently. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quarter Centenarian

I'm not so great at posting in a timely fashion these days, but we'll just chalk it up to the fact that I'm busy... and that the sun decided to come out and play. I mean, how can you resist its bright and shiny personality. It makes me feel so warm all over. That's what she said.

Anyhow, my birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I made a big deal of it pretty much like I always do. I turned 25 and to me that's got an "I'm a quarter centenarian, bitches!" attitude written all over it. It was a weekend-long celebration of epic proportions.

Actually, scratch that, it was a Friday night celebration of epic proportions followed by two wonderful sunny days and two half-assed nights of celebration. What can I say, I started off at a sprint and it sure as hell caught up with me.

Doesn't matter though, I looked so thin and hot.
I kid... but no really...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Beer Garden Sundays

Pretty much the moment it became "spring" the local beer gardens opened up and I'll be the first to say I was stoked. I managed to go to a beer garden once in the fall just before they closed down for the winter. Now, I'm fully taking advantage while I can.

I hereby declare every Sunday until sometime in October to be Beer Garden Sunday. (Though one shouldn't take this to mean other days are excluded from possible beer garden visits.) The best part is, I'm walking distance from one and it has basically become my second favorite place in Prague.

Who doesn't love sitting in the sun while drinking beer?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dear America: Stop Celebrating

Warning: It is already very evident to me that this will turn into a rant of mostly political and then religion-in-politics nature. These are simply my views as they've occurred to me throughout the day.

Every morning I wake up and turn on my laptop. I check the weather before I get in the shower and then I usually check my e-mail pretty quickly just in case there's anything important I need to take care of quickly.

This morning, I woke up to three e-mails from the Washington Post
"Breaking News: White House says Obama to make late-night statement Sunday on an undisclosed topic"
"Breaking News: Osama bin Laden killed in CIA operation."
"Breaking News: Obama confirms that Osama bin Laden has been killed."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pálení Čarodějnic: Witch Burning Day

I don't know exactly why, but I've pretty much been looking forward to Pálení Čarodějnic since I got to Prague. I have this handy guide book that tells me all the major holidays and festivals in Prague and the nearby areas and the moment I read about a day celebrated with bonfires and beer, I was in without question. 

This lady is going to burn later.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Very Czech Easter in the Mountains

For Easter I was lucky enough to end up with a four-day weekend and an invitation to go with some friends to a cottage in the mountains. 

The cottage in the middle. -photo courtesy of Vlasta
I have to admit a few things here. I was hesitant to go at first. The American professional in me shys away from weekend-long stays with clients. However, I was itching to get out of the city. I just needed a bit of a break from Prague. Besides, I hang out with these guys all the time in Prague, why not outside the city?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It Adds Up

So I recently read A Million Little Pieces and while it may have been a fake memoir, it's a damn good book and it totally gets you thinking.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the book, it's about a man with severe drug and alcohol addictions. His addictions go beyond anything I've ever heard of in real life and make Requiem For a Dream and Trainspotting look like child's play.

You read about his addictions, everything in his life he's managed to completely screw up under the influence of these addictions, etc.

Point: It's a great book and gets you thinking about the fine line between having fun while drinking and alcoholism. I don't care if it's not real, it'll scare the living shit out of you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Austin in the Mail

Austin arrived in the mail today.

That my friends was totally worth the two hours and four queues of Česká pošta bureaucracy as well as the 96kc duty and VAT charges. You'll notice: 
  • a map of Texas (To go on my wall) 
  • Starbucks instant coffee (Just in case) 
  • not one, not two, but three bags of Reese's
  • two jars of Austin Grand-Prize Peach Salsa (Only the best peach salsa on earth and it the jar I brought with me was gone in two weeks...)
  • two bags of black beans (Oh how I've missed thee!)
  • a bag of pinto beans (I hated these when I was a kid. Oh how things have changed.)
  • My favorite Austin skyline Starbucks mug which I forgot to pack and I'm happy to have again. (Zuzka, the horsie mug is all yours now.)
  • a vegetable peeler (because apparently the Czechs don't believe in vegetable peelers that work)
  • J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye
  • Ayn Rand's We The Living
  • Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker (Hooray! Books!
Be jealous.

Oh my goodness. Best. Day. Ever. I <3 my mom and dad

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Old Man and the Infidel

I spend lots of time on public transport. Not as much as some of my English-teacher counterparts but quite a bit. Enough to know which end of the train I should be on to be the first off and up the escalator or where to board the bus so there will definitely be an available seat. 

One of the companies I work at is located in a relatively secure facility up in a neighborhood in Smíchov. I have to take a bus from Anděl. It's honestly not very far, but the bus gets crowded with elderly people and tiny children, people who I basically wouldn't ever have to deal with if it weren't for public transportation. (Also people who get first pick at all the seats so that only a few are left for those of us who are between ages 7 and 65.)

When I get on a bus that is basically empty, I usually try to find a row of seats that's empty so that I don't have to actually sit next to someone and so that I can sit next to the window. I like the seat next to the window for some reason. That's true of buses, cars, planes, trains. Any form of transportation you can think to put me on, I won't freak out am more comfortable if I can be by the window.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Day in Hradčany

Hradčany is the Castle District in Prague and, of course, centers around Prague Castle. It's gorgeous and old and there are a million tourists to elbow your way through if you want to see any of it.

I decided to take a solo day a few weeks ago and went to the Castle by myself to take pictures and have a look around. It was some of the first sun we had seen in awhile and I was determined to spend the time outside whether anyone else was coming with me or not.

For some reason I decided to start at the bottom of the hill.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

So when I'm learning new languages I go through phases of really kicking ass and taking names and then phases of being totally lazy and wishing I could study via osmosis. 

Luckily, learning a foreign language in the country it's spoken in kind of has osmosis-like properties in that you're surrounded by it constantly and sort of pick it up and/or figure it out because you have to.

That said, people always ask why my friends and I are even bothering to learn Czech. The Czech Republic is the only country which uses the language and the population is barely pushing 10 million. And people here speak English.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Age is Just a Number

My liver finally managed to organize all the rest of my organs (namely my brain and my stomach) into a full on revolt yesterday. I stayed bedridden after a late night of beer, tequila and (god help me) Slivovice with a few of my students. (Slivovice is the devil in liquid form.)

It was Vlasta and Jan's birthdays this week, 21st and 20th respectively. Sometimes I forget how young they are.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quarterly Update

April has arrived and I'm having a bit of trouble believing I've already been in Prague for three months (this round). It's gone from snowy and freezing to sunny and warm with the occasional spring shower. I'm much happier with the weather now. 

Several of my classes are coming to an end this month (because they're quarterly) and others are finally getting comfortable enough with me to just plain have fun without thinking so much about the English and simply using it. I'm much happier now that I'm getting settled in and figuring out how to teach adults. (Not surprisingly, it's really not that different from teaching children.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

In case you didn't get the memo, it's Spring. Spring signifies endings and beginnings of so many parts of the cycle of our lives. I'd like to share a few that I've noticed thus far.
Ooooh, pretty.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Livin' It Up

It's been insanity around here.

Last week was Spring Break for my post-secondary students, so I didn't have to teach their class all week. On top of that a couple of my other classes took holiday or rescheduled, so I basically had a bit of extra time to myself. This was honestly a good thing. 

It would surprise you how quickly you can burn out doing this job. There's a reason schools have breaks every couple of months and it's not for the students.

Point: I had no classes on Friday, March 18. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chats With Seester

One of my favorite things about having a Blackberry is that I have a gchat 
application on it. This means I can basically text my sister and my best friend 
from home whenever I want.

It totally normalizes my life. That is if you can call this normal:

6:47 PM me: Rain is evil
 seester: Rain makes plants.
 me: Yes
  It also messes up my hair
6:48 PM :(
  And it makes it cold
  :( :(
6:52 PM Miss you!
6:53 PM seester: Hehe... Miss you too!
 me: I'm gonna go eat goulash now
  Because its raining and goulash beats rain
6:54 PM Its like rock paper scissors
  Rain beats hair
  Goulash beats rain
  Hair beats goulash but we'll try to avoid the combination
 seester: Rock paper scissors lizard spock rain goulash? Way complicated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Damn the man! Save the Mekong!

So we're going to take a little step back to SE Asia for a minute so that I can make what I'd like to call a public service announcement. 

The fate of the Mekong River is in jeopardy and it will essentially all be decided by the Joint Committee of the Mekong River Commission on March 24. I want you to help show that there is worldwide opposition to plans to create 11 (more) dams along the river causing sweeping changes which would devastate the lives of millions in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. 

Here's the gist:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Springing Forward

I keep seeing all these reminders on Facebook to "Spring forward."

It's kind of confusing because while daylight savings happens in America this weekend, it doesn't happen until late-March here. 


It'll be strange only being six and eight hours ahead of my parents and my sister respectively. Strange indeed. Although I'm not sure that it'll make much of a difference. I imagine that it will throw things off a bit though. I tend to bump into my sister on the Internet now and then. Hey, maybe I'll bump into Meghan more now.

I think they might have it right here though. We're probably going to get one more spot of cold weather and then it's time for Spring to bring it. I can't wait for 16-hour days, all the sun I can handle and flowers!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunamis Make Me Panic

First of all, I would like to say my heart goes out to those in Japan and with loved ones there. No where in the world was better prepared for a large earthquake and the following tsunami, but there's only so much you can do to get ready for the unpredictable fury that is mother nature.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Drink, Drank, Drunk

I know you kids looked at your calendars today and saw it's the tenth of the month and have since been anxiously awaiting the March edition of the Karaoke Ring of Death.

Well, here you go. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Funny

I was talking to my sister about books earlier. I was gearing up to suggest a novel for her to read but I had to get the conversation there first. It lead to a funny

do you like existentialism?

I like big words, but I sometimes have to look them up to see if I like what they mean. ;-)

well just look at the root word gwenny
it's literature (usually) that deals with the topic of existence
generally questioning it

exist. Yes, I like to exist.

I proceeded to literally fall over cracking up. (Maybe the wine facilitated the level of funny I perceived this to be?) So if you like to exist you should probably read The Stranger by Albert Camus.

Conversations like this make me super excited that she's planning to come to Prague in the summer.