Jun 24, 2009

Prague Castle

The day after the Wenceslas Square tour, we had the amazing opportunity to go to Prague Castle and have a tour of each of the buildings and the grounds.  We got there just in time for the changing of the guard ceremony, where I met this handsome young guard.  I instantly felt a connection, and I'm sure he felt the same :) 

Love Always

Prague Castle is the biggest castle in all of Europe! It is so vast and rich in history, and because it is so old, some of the architecture is romanesque, while other parts are baroque or renesaince (sp?).  We learned about some of the Czech rulers and Marie Antoinette's mother was the queen of Czechoslovakia.  In fact, the only queen to ever rule here.  We got to see coronation rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, heaters, dance halls, dungeons and much much more.  It was absolutely riveting, which is why it is so unfortunate that we couldn't take pictures everywhere.  

Our Tour Guide, Dana

Changing of the guard

Me in front of the Cathedral

Amazingly Intricate stained glass

Me in the Adam and Eve Cathedral

Oldest road in Prague.  The houses along this road are about 10' x 4'! They are crazy small, and most people had 3 or more kids!

Medieval Stretching Rack

The Gorgeous View outside of the Castle

The history here is so fascinating, but it's their recent history that rivets me the most. To think that the people here were living under communist rule a mere 20 years ago is mind boggling.  To walk in the same places that Hitler, Stalin, and many others walked years and years ago stuns me.  I looked out of the exact same window that Hitler looked on the city from during WWII. That weirds me out to the max.

Thats just me in a costume. I go all out.

I know I say this all the time, but I still can't get over how incredibly blessed I am to be here and experience these things.  This is something I will never forget and something I will never regret, and I would recommend it to anyone who craves adventure and culture :)

Sunset from my Balcony

Peace and Love,
Harley Kat

Jun 18, 2009

Wenceslas and the Like

I really need to keep updating this like every day, because otherwise my posts just get way too long and boring! So I apologize to everyone.  Once again, I have been mad busy, so I will try to cram as much as I can in here.

Last week we had a walking tour of Wenceslas Square, which is pretty much the main square in Prague.  This is the place where the people would gather for protests and things like that.  The buildings and the monuments here have yet to bore me, because the architecture here is so historical and diverse.  Anyway, we started at the top of the square near the Muzeum building, where we learned about the Prague Spring of 1968 when Prague was invaded by Russians, and the Velvet Revolution during which communism was peacefully overthrown.  It was an amazing experience and it just made me realize how little our country has been through in comparison.

Muzeum and the Wenceslas Monument

Memorial to 2 students who burned themselves in protest of the Russian Occupation. Crazy stuff.

The guy who did this is the same one who did the babies on the tower.  I've concluded he's basically the king of random.
Yummiest Garlic Soup I have ever had.

Later, the group decided to go on an exploring adventure to the other side of town.  We walked for-e-ver, got plenty lost, and ran into several dead ends.  We would get to the bridge we needed to cross, and it was closed, we would climb down a steep deadly hill, and there was a 12 foot drop at the end. It was great fun.  By the time we got to the monument, everyone was exhausted and cranky and hungry, so only 4 people made the final hike to the top of the hill.  The rest of us, however, went to this cool military museum for free! It was really interesting because they had all these documents signed by Hitler, Stalin, Moussolini (sp?), and more.  

Small Jewish Cemetery along the way

Cool Graffiti

Military Museum

Dirt road we got lost on, Czech Flag in the background

I know I am awful at updating this instantly! I need to be on it, because it just becomes more of a hassle the longer I wait! I appreciate the love and support and prayers from everyone! I love you all and there is more to come!

Peace and Love,
Harley Kat

Jun 14, 2009


Usually when my life is crazy busy, it's in a bad way, and some aspect of my life is falling by the wayside. But here my life is hectic, and I love it! I love going to bed at 4 in the morning, and waking up at 7:30 because it means I am living life! This city is alive 24/7, and I don't want to miss a moment of it. (Mom, don't worry, I am still doing my HW).

So I left off with the Lennon Wall, I believe, which brings me to the following Sunday (last week, YIKES!).  So when I was planning my trip over here, I was looking into the local ward and where they met and all of that, and I was doing all of this assuming I was going to be the only LDS student on the trip.  Well! It just so happens that there is an RM in our group and he went to church with me! I was so relieved, because it meant I wasn't going to be the only one not drinking, haha.  Not to mention the fact that I was worried nobody was going to speak English. Well we figured out which Metro we needed to take and where the building was and we booked it to get there on time, and when we got to the final station, we saw a group of missionaries and pretty much followed them to the building.  

When we got inside, I was handed a translator (which noticeably relaxed me), and then we went to sit down in the Chapel, and it was packed.  Sardined wall to wall, and smiling the whole time.  So Stetson (the RM) and I had to sit separate from each other for the first few mins, but he couldn't stay away from me (Mostly because I had the only translator for the two of us, but that's just a minor detail).  I had completely forgotten that it was Fast Sunday (I blame the Jet Lag), so I got even more excited for the meeting! There were about 4 new members confirmed that day, and I have never felt the spirit so strongly.  The testimonies (though partially lost in translation) were completely heart felt and there were literally tears in my eyes through half of them.  Afterwards, I had such a strong feeling that I should serve a mission.  I've felt it before, but it's just been something that I say in theory.  This feeling was different, like I needed to do it.  I know that beggars can't be choosers, but wouldn't it be RAD if I got called to Prague? Haha, a girl can dream.  Honestly, I would be happy anywhere.  On our way out we snagged a couple BOMs in Czech, which is, so far, my favorite souvenir, and I was thinking I should just devote a whole weekend to "pulling a Groberg" and learning Czech, haha.

Sister Ricks

So that was a nice, spiritual morning, which led to a freaking painful afternoon because the shoes I was wearing were not authorized for extended use, so hello blisters up the wazoo! That night we went to this 5 story club by the Charles Bridge and it was lame at first because nobody was there, but a couple hours later, the club was hoppin', and we were at the epicenter.  Afterwards, the Metro was closed so we had to catch a tram home and we totally got lost. Lost in Prague at 3 in the morning! What fun! 

Some of the crew on the Dance Floor

I signed one of the walls

Prague at 3 am 
Waiting for the Tram in the Cold

Anyways, sorry this is so rushed! I will have more soon, I promise!

Peace and Love,
Harley Kat

Jun 9, 2009

Intro to Life in Prague

These first days have been an absolute whirlwind. This is literally the first time since I arrived that I have spent more than an hour in my dorm (during the day, at least), and I am trying to rest up so I can do more insanely fun things for the rest of the week.  I have to say that I absolutely adore this city.  I don't think I ever want to leave! Every little thing I see makes me fall more and more in love; the food is fantastic, the transportation system is top-notch, the people are generally nice, and the architecture is to DIE FOR. I haven't been anywhere else in Europe yet, but I'm starting to think that nothing will even compare to Prague.  They say you never forget your first love, and I am falling head over heels.

Prague Castle, some of Charles Bridge, and something that says Tacet

Saturday was the first day, and the majority of it was spent trying to get our metro passes.  This was only supposed to take 45 mins tops, and it ended up being 2 hours. It was a nightmare, and this is the major reason why:

We needed to get pics for the card, and we had 14 people. Each person's picture taking process took 10 mins. It was absolute frustration nation, but it was worth it in the end, I've noticed most things are over here.

Of course, I was the second to the last to get my pictures, and as soon as they printed, I went over to the booth to get my card printed, and the person right before me got the last one. They ran out right before me. Naturally this would happen to me of all people! I had even let some people go before me!! I learned my lesson about being nice, and it didn't even take a one-armed man.  So I had to go to another station, which added 30 mins onto my waiting time.  Once it was all figured out, we met the others for lunch, then headed towards the Charles Bridge.

Construction on the Charles Bridge began in 1357, and it wasn't finished until the beginning of the 15th century.  This thing has withheld against tons of floods over the years compared to the others on the river, and most people attribute that to they egg yolks they used to make the mortar. Weird.  There are also about 30 statues of different martyred saints along the entire bridge on both sides, and each one is unique and has a really cool story behind it.  I'm planning on going back on a sunny day to get better pictures, because of the ones I took, I only really like a few. 

One of the Towers of the Charles Bridge

Myself before crossing the bridge

When we got to the other side, we took a little trip to this really cool alleyway that has a wall that is covered in graffiti.  It's called Lennon wall and it is filled with Beatles lyrics, peace signs, paintings of John Lennon himself, and lots of other random things. It was really cool, and for those of you who know me, you know that is right up my alley.  I took so many pictures there that it got to the point of ridiculous, so here are a few of my favs:

Dark Wall

Oh, I will. I'll start by imagining I live here

The Legend Himself

This one pretty much expresses how I feel about the city. 

This isn't the only place in the city with graffiti, in fact it is everywhere.  I asked someone if it was illegal, or if there were any consequences for doing it, and she said that it is absolutely not illegal, and everyone encourages it.  This is because only 20 years ago, these people were under communist rule and were completely repressed.  Now they have freedom to wear what they want, write what they want, say what they want, and this is their way of trying on their newfound freedom of expression. It's really cool when you think about it that way, as opposed to thinking about it as just being ghetto and trashy.

Well, it took me about 2 days to finally finish this post, but I did it.. and I am leaving it with a big TO BE CONTINUED... because there is even more from this one day that I haven't gotten to.. not to mention the days since. 

Peace and Love,
Harley Kat

Jun 6, 2009

Can Life Get Any Better?

I submit that it Cannot!  First of all, let me just say that this place is undeniably, breathtakingly, stunningly BEAUTIFUL.  How is it possible for such raw awesomeness to even exist? Every corner I turn, I literally gasp. 

That being said, let's go chronologically (because that's what I do), starting with my flight.  There were 4 people on the entire plane that were a part of our excursion (to Prague), and I ended up sitting right next to one of them. He seems like a cool dude, too, so that's a bonus.  There was also another boy from Phoenix on the other side of him, and he was pretty chill as well. It seems the curse of always sitting next to smelly old pervs has been broken! Knock on wood... Anywho, so after an extremely uncomfortable 10 hour flight, we arrived at Heathrow. This airport is intimidating at first, but I had 5 hours to get the hang of it, and it's really just a huge mall that happens to be a take-off/landing place for planes.  I was hoping to finally get to sleep there, but, once again, no such luck. 

Requisite "Plane Above Clouds" Photo

Me attempting to illustrate how cramped I was

The awesome TV that was in my face the entire time.  This little guy is really cool, you can watch new releases, TV shows, listen to music, and there's a map that tells you how far you are in your journey.  It was pretty much the only thing that kept me sane.

This may look like just another city, but this, my friends, is London. 

So 5 hours after landing at Heathrow, we take off to Prague, and on this flight, I sat next to a very grumpy Bulgarian fellow who kept jabbing me with his elbow (which I suspect was on purpose. But why? I am a nice, fun girl. I do not deserve such treatment, especially from a stranger... But I digress), and I managed to get about 10 minutes total of sleep. So that's good, I suppose.  When we landed in Prague, my stomach was all a flutter with excitement because it meant it was finally REAL, and it's weird that it took so long for me to actually get that. The airport in Prague is super, super easy and efficient, which was totally nice.  We got off the plane, waited for our bags, went through customs (2 guards reading a newspaper on stools by the exit), and waited for our ride to the dorms.  Finally, after some minor confusion, the taxi/van driver loaded us into the car, and literally SPED off into the night. Not unlike a mad man. When we started driving, I felt really confused, like something was familiar, and I realized that its because we were driving on the right side of the road and the steering wheel was on the right side, too. Even though we had only rode on the bus in London for like 10 mins, I just got the idea in my head that all of Europe was like that...once again, I digress. One horrible case of whiplash and 30 mins later, we were staring our dorms right in the eye.

Prague Airport

Taxi of Death, Next Stop: Hell.

We got checked in and got our keys and everything, and then we went to our rooms, and mine is on the top floor (of 5, thankfully there is an elevator because even though it doesn't seem like a lot, I walked up today, and immediately regretted it).  My apartment/dorm has UH-MAZE-ING views. We're talking being blinded by beauty at every turn.  My roomie was already here and also asleep, so I had to get ready for bed really quiet like.  Throughout the entire voyage over here, I had been telling myself that I would be able to sleep in a bed once I got there, and I was going to sleep like a boulder.  Yeahhh... psych. I was tossing and turning all night. But I'm sure you wanted to know all about that. 

Really rad church and a tower built by the communists to block the Radio Free Europe signal

Prague Castle in the distance
Close-up of the tower. Those are babies. Here's the story: Everyone in Prague considers this their biggest eyesore, so this artist was commissioned to do "something special" with it. This is what he produced. If you're like me, you are now thinking this "Why babies?" There is no logic, it just looks like ant children are taking over the tower. I also want to point out that my camera was not in B&W mode. It was this overcast all day, and it was refreshing.

Well, thats the introduction to my life in Prague! I'm heading out to do some more fun stuff, and I will post all about that later. 

Peace and Love,
Harley Kat

Jun 4, 2009

All Packed and Ready to Go!

I literally just got finished packing my bag and getting last minute things, but now I am READY! This is my luggage:
I was really really worried that it was too much, but yesterday, my professor called and reminded me that it was a "2 bag limit, each one can weigh up to 54 pounds.  Some other kids on the trip have to pay the fee for going over the limit" WOW... why do you need that much stuff for a month? Maybe they, too, are going traveling afterwards, so I will not pass judgment.  But it did give me great relief, because my one bag weighs about 48-50 pounds depending on which scale I believe (I used two in order to make sure).  I still feel like that's excessive, and I even downsized by like 2 articles of clothing (I know, I sacrifice so much), but it'll be fine. 

Well, I am heading out the door in about 15 minutes to go to the airport, so I won't get to post for a couple days.  Wish me luck, and let's pray that everyone's predictions that I would end up being another victim of the guys in the fictional film "Taken" don't come anywhere close to happening.  

Peace and Love,
Harley Kat