Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'm home and I hope that this time finds you well and close to your loved ones so that you start the new year with a smile on your face.
This year has been very full of events, ups and downs but mainly ups I must say. This reminds me of a time line of events I had to make for a school once. If I put my year on a graph, it started ok, then took a plunge to the low and then went up again, continued very well, had a low low and then a high high and so now I'm still on the wave and hope it will continue like this.
Santa granted me my wishes by giving me a lot of love this year. May Santa grant you your wishes as well and give you power to get over the lows and enjoy the highs.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Christmas shopping is exhausting, I think while opening the door to the flat, and I still haven't bought half of the presents I want to make this year. I go in, preparing for a, hopefully quiet evening in front of a movie. What will we have for supper?
As I walk towards the kitchen I notice it: it's quiet and dark, too quite and too dark. I prepare to say something when I see his face in the pale light of the lamp; sitting on the couch, holding something in his hand. He's just looking at me but with a grin on his face that at first I don't understand. Is he mad at me for ringing so loudly? Does he want to take me to the bedroom? Is he sick? I'm lost between being pissed, hopeful or worried.
"Pick it up!" he says. At first I don't understand the words but as I look down and as my eyes focus in the dim light I understand what I have to do. I throw away my bag and I pick up the gun. Damn it's not armed, I think as I try to shoot at him. By the time I arm and point, a rubber bullet flies by me, "Ha, you missed" and I head for cover shooting my only bullet on the pipe, only to miss him by far.
I reach the hiding place behind the sliding door : too late, I'm hit in the chest. I arm my gun with his bullet and dash through the doors in a desperate attempt to get at him before he arms his gun. Head shot! That was a lucky shot as my next rounds fly into the bedroom and living room but he manages to score points almost all the time.
The living room furniture makes for good cover between two shots, too bad I'm such a poor shooter and my bullets fly by while his almost never miss.
"Wait! I have to reload, I have no more bullets"
"Well that's because you can't shoot" and a bullet gets stuck in my wool jumper.
Time out while we search for the bullets all over the place. I prepare my ambush carefully: I have him where I want: on the other side of the bed, looking for lost ammo. I manage to fire twice before he launches his attack and comes running over the bed, shooting me in the arm.
I grab his arm and turn him towards me with a kiss "Great Christmas gift, sweetheart"
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Fine weather we're having in the Czech Republic these days. I remember that last year in November I went on a road trip that basically changed the course of my life. I visited for the first time the Czech Republic, Vienna and Slovakia and then got back to tiny Cluny, in France, without knowing that one year from then I would be living in one of these countries. And the weather was not as good, if you're wondering. In fact it was shitty, raining all the time we were in Vienna and then we did Bratislava-by-rain-in-2-hours.
But today is a wonderful day for this time of the year. And I'm at my desk, having profound thoughts. I'll give you guys an update on my life because it's been a while since I wrote here.
Rewind to the last days of September '09. Awful days were those, as I had to take a life changing decision that would effect not only my life. I'll spare you the details but after those awful days I went back home for a couple of weeks and then to Clun's to see my friends and make the expose that earned me a Master's degree.
Fast forward to the last (sunny)days of November. I'm leaving in Plzen and have started a new job. As you guessed it, that is what my decision was all about: moving or not, changing my job or not. It wasn't always easy and I think I made it harder than it should have been.
I will again spare you the details, the pros and cons, what was hanging in the balance, my suppositions, my predictions and so on. What is important is that I made the step and here I am. And I'm not getting bored, that's for sure. :-)
I like this place, driving to work, the scenery is like in this picture. I cannot stop to take photos on the highway so there you have one from Flickr. It really is this pretty. And I feel like in the photo :-)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
She has another picture on her blog (Si da, Sinziana, acela este un glasvant, intre bucatarie si locul de luat masa si living, iar usa din dreapta mea da spre dormitor :P )
Thursday, November 12, 2009
And I am a modern girl, even if I've kind of settled down: I'm going to work by car, stoping for some shopping on the way home, chatting with my girls about shoes and dresses, kicking ass at work and so on.
Don't worry, I'm still a wanderer. Last weekend we went to Romania and then to Bratislava on the way back (and beat the curse on this ocassion because we had a great weekend). The weekend before that we were in France. I am alive and well, my fans, only tired and so don't expect many pics from my own collection, ok? Ok.
Friday, October 23, 2009
So I've been busy with my new flat and my new job, but I promise to be back and tell you all about it. And about the 3 restaurants in Arad and about my pretty shoes. And my pretty car. (The boy is still the same, didn't change him, he's also pretty)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
She glanced back. Yes, he was there, still smiling, a tall, brown haired man, wearing sunglasses in this weather. She could see his green turtle neck from under his beige Mac. The dog looked wet and a bit sad, maybe he wanted home already. She felt her own dog jerking the leash to turn around. The guy's dog must be male.
How bizarre, she thought, there, on the bank of the Seine, under the pouring rain, these two strangers decided to walk their dogs. There was no one else around, no passerbys. Was he following her? She knew she'd seen him somewhere else but where? Maybe in the park,but now she really saw him : tall, taller thant her but just the perfect size. Where did that thought come from? He was quite good looking, square chin, brown hair, but she chouldn't see his eyes.
He was comming towards her, she could hear his footspteps on the wet pavement. And there was no one else under the rain. She was intrigued. Strangely enough it didn't even cross her mind to be afraid, she was actually fascinated by this guy and his dog.
The man's smile didn't falter as she half turned towards him. She started walking towards him then. He stopped. He was now looking at her with his brown, soft eyes, still that smile on his lips as if he knew her. She wanted to ask "Where? Who? Why?" but she found herself smiling as well.
She was now looking straight at him. She did know him, she'd known him for a while now. He also lived on the Rive Gauche, perhaps somewhere on the other side of the square from where her flat was(why it was called a square when it was round, she didn't know).
She'd seen him in the street, probably going to work, always fashionable, sometimes in a hurry. She knew he was French, but she never knew his name. How many times did they cross eachother in bakeries and tailor shops? How many times did they walk the dogs in the same park, sat on the same bench, at different hours, different days. How many times did they almost meet?
"On se connait?"
*Samaritaine is the name of a famous Parisian Department store, bigger than La Fayette and Le Printemps, it was the place for fashionable and expensive shopping before it was closed for "rebuilding" in 2005. Actually it was a move to restructure the personnel and transform it into office and apartment building so this fashionistas' paradise never reopened. These pictures were in the window of the shop in summer of 2006.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Beer comes in all shapes, sizes and colors in the Czech Republic, but especially it comes in big pint glasses, it's "velké pivo", large beer. If you're not a real man but a winny, you'll have to specifically ask for "malé pivo", a small beer, else you'll get the pint which is a norm here. But be careful, with a half measure in front of you, people will give you strange looks. Czech girls will for sure feel less attracted.
Czechs are some of the biggest producers and consumers of beer in the world, and they have some of the cheapest and best beers available. (Around 1.17 euros for a pint)So you don't even have to ask "kolik to stojí" how much does it cost, but you should rather say "Jedno pivo, prosím" A beer please.
Czechs have a really strong bar culture, as demonstrated by the local heroe, the good soldier Švejk. They enjoy going out with friends in hospoda, bar/restaurants where they food is designed to match the favorite drink, beer. They even have wedding parties in bars. The food is for another story, just keep in mind this when going to a restaurant here: gulaš. Ok, you'll say this is Hungarian, maybe. Some Czechs will agree with you, but the truth remains, this is what will usually accompany a beer here. (And don't tell Czechs about it not being their invention, please, the local variant is a bit different from the rest and they might not take well to such news).
Everyone drinks beer. Pretty, delicate girls and chubby, beer-bellied guys, they all have a pint in front at all times while chatting away with friends. And when they finish it, the waiter will hurry up to bring a fresh one. They way to serve the beer may also seem peculiar to us, Romanians at least: a big collar of foam is a must in every glass. Beer has been an important part of Czech economical and social life, since the 12th century, when the first towns obtained a license to brew. Wars have been fought over it and any Czech you meet will be quick to tell you how much they love their drink and how lager beer is derived from Pilsner beer, a standard based on Czech hop and Czech brewing methods.
Fact: The Czech Republic has the largest beer consumption per capita. For a country with a population of 10 million, that's not peanuts. The most famous beers are of course Pilsner and Budvar, well Budweiser for you yanks (Everyone say: "Co se děje?", What's up?) But there are other very good ones. Basically every important town in Bohemia and some Moravian ones, have a beer of their own: Staropramen and Braník in Prague, Krušovice in Rakovník, Velké Popovický, East of Prague, Starobrno, from Brno.
There are so many types of beers here that you can't get tired of them, nor can you try them all out in a year, even if you drink a different brand every day. This is an urban legend but it's true that the diversity of beers here is quite impressive, 470 brands (says so here). From the very light colored, or golden "Světly" to "Černé", the very dark one, you have all the rainbow of beers. One interesting fact is that every bar, restaurant, and so on is specialized in one or two brands of beer only.
Bar etiquette is simple here. Beer. And food. And a good chat. Mix and repeat. They are proud of their beer. Other types of beer, like Belgian Krieks, or mixes such as the Monaco are not well looked upon, so don't try that if you want to be respectful and not cause a stir. For one of the most atheistic countries of Europe, the Czech Republic's religion is the Beer, with the god of beer being Gambrinus (the name of another famous Pilsner brew).
These gates are famous: the gates of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, the original source of the golden beer, in Plzen. Countless of trucks of beer have passed these gates since the late XIXth century when the brewer started exporting to France, Germany, Austria and even as far away as the United States. It is said that after the Prohibition, Pilsner sent many barrels of beer over the Ocean, as a gift.
My personal favorite is of course the dark beer, with a taste of burnt sugar, best served cold with some honey coated ribs and garlic bread, another local specialty.
Before I go, just remember that the best way to drink a beer is to follow it with another, with friends : Jedno Pivo, Dvě Piva, Pět Piv (One beer, Two beers, Five beers). And when you've finished your glass, just ask for a refill: Ještě jednou, prosím.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
This morning, I had a revelation. As I walked out of my front door, my little heel got caught in a hole in the garden pavement. And then it hit me: This country is not made for walking with heel shoes. Don't get me wrong, I don't have 12 cm stilettos, just small, kitten heel pumps. I'm going to work by bike, remember, I'm not going to be extravagant, but a little bit of fashion never hurt anyone, right?
I got my foot out of the hole and walked on; pass the gate, into the gravel road, up the hill to where my bike is parked. I scraped my heel and almost broke my legs. Really, is living in the country side compatible with having heels?
Last week I went to Prague. I rushed from home to catch my bus in my very comfy grey boots from pimkie. The same gravel road, the same hill with boulders, scraped heels once more. And once in Prague, I managed to walk on the cobbled roads without a problem, until, very late at night when we were wandering around Kampa at 2 o'clock, and then it was too much, my boyfriend almost had to carry me to the car (mind you, I don't think he would have minded).
This city is not made for walking with high heels. And now it's the whole country. My heels are scraped, bruised, a real disaster. I hope to have a car this fall so I won't be walking or riding my bike to work and so shoes shouldn't be a problem. Ok, I'm cheating here, but the best way to work a pair of shoes is to get your feet out of a car in a very Hollywood style. So a preview of my wish list (OMG, I don't believe I'm putting up pictures of shoes here).
You see, for me buying a shoe is not just about the shoe itself, it's about the image I want it to give me, this boots, and the way the girl is dressed match my style, and for sure I see myself having a romantic, candlelight dinner by a fireplace.
And to go to work, I think these would be perfect with my office pants, a real corporate gal, 9 to 5, here I come.
No, no flats on my wish list, I am decreeing, flats are boring. I'll probably get a pair for when my feet hurt from the heels, but I will not let the pavement tell me what to wear. I don't care about all the setbacks; I will make it, God damn it. My shoes for this fall will be low, I will wear boots, I'll still wear my converses, but by all that is good and true in this world, I will wear heels, you cannot stop me.
At least he’s not meat on the road.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I’m outraged, plans were made, very nice people were waiting for us, and beer was in the fridge. And SkyEurope cancelled all that. If you didn’t already know, they filled for, what in the States would be Chapter 11 and promised no flights would be affected. Well every flight we’ve had with them has been delayed and this is too much. At least if they had the decency not to sell tickets for the last month so people would not get scammed into buying them and then get their plans turned upside-down.
Here’s what they say on the website :
Those of you who have purchased flights with a credit card, please turn to your credit card issuing bank to seek refunds for unused portions of SkyEurope's flights.
If you are already at the destination or have rented a car through SkyEurope's business partner, you may stay at the hotel and use the vehicle during the period originally agreed. You must, however, order a return flight from some other airline at your own expense.
I am completely appalled. Everyone should be informed about this, not to get to the airport for nothing. And if you're wondering what the relation to Bratislava is...well it's the curse again, remember, SkyEurope is/was partly Slovak owned, q.e.d.
We’re changing our plans, of course, we’ll surely have a great time, and trying to get our money back, but still it’s sucks big time.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The epicenter of this Phenomenon seems to be the city of Bratislava, on the Danube River, most famously known as the capital of Slovakia. Its proximity to Vienna gave it the nicknames Little Big city or Twin City. So far it is believed that the influence of the curse spreads as far as Vienna, thus inflicting its influence on a radius of 1hour's drive from the epicenter.
The curse manifests itself on travelers to Bratislava. No direct occurrences on locals have been noted so far, although there is a supposed influence. To this day, all locals questioned about the city have expressed a negative opinion about living there. However, no proof has been brought as to definitely link this to the Curse. The locals are very helpful and nice.
More precisely, the curse acts on travelers, attracting them to the city, causing them misery, trying to make them turn on each other (so far it hasn’t worked). The curse induces a state of frustration and fatigue by making the travelers lose their way around town, making them turn around many times to search for an address, etc, leading to a terrible time for the unwary traveler.
Despite help from the natives, travelers often loose their way and have trouble finding their friend’s flat. The curse sometimes attracts unknowing travelers to the labyrinth of the panelaks, the old communist apartment building complexes, making them turn in circle for hours.
Other manifestations are related to the city’s transport system, outgoing and ingoing trains and buses are affected, as well as tramways and buses inside the city (there is no metro, or none has been spotted by our researchers, despite their best efforts). Thus, trains and buses are often late. Should the train or bus be on time, Murphy’s Law is applied once more and the traveler will, most certainly either: be late himself or he will be mislead (the curse acting again) and will try to embark on the wrong train or bus.
Zone of influence
So far, the curse seems to be stronger in the area that spreads from the main railway station to the main bus station. Looking at a map, one will see that these are in opposite parts of town, meaning that the curse cover the whole of Bratislava.
Some accounts state that a focal point is this communist fresco in the departure hall of the railway station.
Examples and occurrences
The first time a strange event was spotted by our researchers (without it being called a Curse), was in November 2008, when, during a road trip in the area, two of our fellow scientists, I.D and V.A, passed through Bratislava on the way to Zvolen. While trying to find the bus station, the two saw almost all that was to see of the town, under steady rain. The pair got on the last bus, taking the last seats, and thinking nothing more about it. Two days later, while going from Zvolen to Brno, the two ha to change trains in Bratislava, at around 22.00. Because of misleading information, the two board a train to Minsk, only to realize this a few minutes before departure. Thankfully for them, they managed to break free of the curse and arrive at their destination.
One of the most famous occurrences happened in June 2009 when our leading researchers, I.D and Jiminy Cricket, a.k.a. A.R decided to take a trip to Bratislava, to visit some friends. They became aware of the Curse by mere accident, as the plan they had was simply to take one of the buses or trains from Prague to Bratislava and have a weekend with friends. The Curse started to act before they even left Prague, as I.D was stuck at work, making them loose all connections and forcing her already tired and preoccupied with work, boyfriend to come pick her up.
After a long trip, under the rain, the pair arrived late at night in Bratislava and tried, against all hope to find their friend’s flat. By the time they are rescued by the friend’s girlfriend, the couple had already been in the Panelak for an hour, searching for the street name on the buildings. During the whole weekend, they were too tired and some friends were too sick to go out and have fun.
When they decided to leave Bratislava, on Sunday, the Curse decided they had to stay and they found the car locked by the police for wrong parking. One hour later, after paying the fine an releasing the car, they finally leave, only to arrive to late for the last bus to I.D.’s home. Deciding to go to A.R’s house, the two loose one more hour in a traffic jam, thus ending a weekend haunted by the Curse.
Finally, the last event related to the Curse happed in August 2009, when the same couple was returning from a long weekend in Romania, via Vienna. The effects of the Curse on transportation were very obvious, as the two had a one hour delay coming from Bucharest and so missed the bus to Prague.
The Curse was now obvious, as they were forced to board a bus to Bratislava, from where there are more connections to Prague.
Once trapped by the Curse and brought to Bratislava, they had to face the city transport system in order to get to the railway station and lost precious time because of it. Murphy’s Law came into effect once more, and the worst happed: the train had a one hour delay. Once in Prague, the Curse seemed to follow them once more, as I.D. missed her connection and was forced to wait for hours for the next one.
Two before and after pictures of Jiminy Cricket, of JCOBW – Jiminy Cricket Observatory for a Better World(c), waiting for the train in Bratislava. (1) Hopeful that the train will be on time, and (2), after he learns that the train will be delayed, demonstrating the power of the Curse.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The last picture of a door, is my flat. A quaint 30sqm, kitchen corner, shower and toilet, I pay 300 euros a month for it.And of course the ducks, they live in the pond in front of the house and in front of my flat there is another small pond with waterlilies and gold fish. And I just saw a hedgehog. I'll miss this place.
Zelezny Brod has a privileged position close to the Cesky Raj and the Giant's mountains and so it's a stop over for many tourists going to the hiking trails of the mountains. The town is associated with glass making, many business have been developed around town, making glass jewellery and other items. You can visit the factories and expositions related to glass making, plus old timber houses kept the same as they were a few hundred years ago.
On my way over I had a glimpse at the Czech Paradise, high mountains with bizarre rock formations, a bit like these in the picture.
It certainly gave me a reason to go back to the region for a hiking trip. There are lots of things to do around here, rafting, mountain biking, and all winter sports you can imagine. There are several towns in the region offering all these facilities in the renowned Czech hospitability and politeness. :-)
Getting back to my day trip, there were lots of signs pointing you to the sights of the town: the 1900's Town Hall/Teather, the town museum, including an old timber house, the glass school with an exhibit of glass work.
But I didn't find what I was looking for, the picturesque town with lots of streets you can wander on, like I was lead to believe. I did find the Small Place, Mala Namesti, which reminded me of pictures I saw of turn of the Century "mahala" in Bucharest. Different style of course, timber houses (again!) and Empire style houses, a typical church (next to a pub).
I also wanted to see the house they had restorated as it had been a few centuries ago, another timber house with objects related to the day to day lives of the first people to have come here, but no success. There was no electricity in that part of town, so all businesses, including my glass factory and the museums, were closed.
But one thing I have to say: these people knew how to sell themselves. They had signs everywhere (rare around these parts), they pointed to the main attractions, had panels telling you the stories behind these so called attractions.
All you actually had to see were timber house after timber house (the flowers on the windows changed) and old, falling down and badly renovated houses. But they advertised all of these and they were proud of the cultural heritage. All without having a very touristy town, selling crappy souvenirs or advertising beds in guest houses.
Maybe a lesson for our own tourism. Don’t get me wrong, I felt cheated of the 4 euro trip I made (4 euros, 2 way ticket), but I still went there, spent a little more than an hour, and had it not been for the electricity, I would have bought some hand crafted, glass jewellery. Ad I'm going back, maybe not to the same town, but in the same area, for my little hiking trip, whenever I decide to take it.
Friday, August 21, 2009
So hush now and enjoy the last rays of the fading sun. And because you've been good, I'll share with you one of my all time favourites (yeah, I know you didn't expect that):
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
This is the post office. Interesting building and I'm wondering i the people living there work for the post? It was just across the street from the Town Hall, pictured below. There was actually a wedding there an the party followed me around town (I had seen one of the cars in the wedding party, parked right behind my house).
Looking at the signs I found out these people had a castle. Well of course, like the French, they have a castle in every town. So I followed the sigs like brad crumps and saw other pretty things on my way.
Such as this Church. I was wondering if I'll like this style. Before going to Chartres I wasn't found of Gothic, and then all the other Churches and Cathedrals I saw in France, changed my point of view. But I'm having a hard time with Baroque. The inside is pretty, although a bit to elaborated for my taste.
Picture through the links of a fence.
The town seemed nice also, very provincial, but bigger than my Bakov. When I came here, it was suggested I live in Mnichovo Hradiste (of course none of the Czech speakers offered to help me find a place). I prefer Bakov nad Jizerou, at least I'm in the countryside and that's it.
Comming up to the castle on the hill. It had a big garden and a chapel dedicated to St Anne and a lapidarium. I didn't visit the inside of the buildings bcause of lack of time but from the pictures I saw, they were well kept.
I sat on a bench under a tree and eventually fell asleep reading my book. There was a gentle breeze through the leaves and the sounds of the city so far away... I just doazed off. The wedding party followed me, with all the noises; the castle is a favourit for wedding pictures. It has quite a romantic feeling.
Speeking of romantism, this is one of my famous do-it-yourself pictures, in the castle toilet...
Went back to the big square and had a banana milk shake on a terrace, waiting for the bus. The buses work well around here so even a foreigner with very basic Czech, not able to form a bigger phrase, can get around. And the prices are reasonable, so I can take my little weekend trips and take pictures for you guys.