The last few days have been… crazy, wonderful, exhilarating and surprisingly empowering. I don’t know how to describe how I feel right now to you, but it’s really amazing. I’ve tapped into a very confident and resourceful part of myself that I didn’t even know existed. I’ll call her World Traveller Holly.
My journey to Prague was very smooth, all things considered. The most harrowing part was undoubtedly the bus ride from Brookfield to O’Hare, which was basically in the middle of a blizzard. The roads were bad in Brookfield and got worse as we went south. The bus was about 45 minutes behind schedule by the time we got to the airport.
The flight to Istanbul was great. Turkish Airlines was actually super nice. Really good food, lots of entertainment options on the touch screen seat backs. We had to wait a while after we boarded while they de-iced the plane and plowed the runways again (they had like 50 snow plows, it was actually really cool to watch), so the flight attendants brought around Turkish Delight and hot towels (which I thought only happened in movies) while we waited to take off. The flight was about 11 hours total, once we got in the air. I didn’t even watch movies; I just popped in my iPod and dozed off and on for most of the flight.
We reached Istanbul just as the sun was setting. I saw all of about 8 minutes of sunlight on January 2nd, which was kind of weird. We landed about 5pm, and thus began the longest layover in the history of all layovers.
Luckily, Istanbul Araturk is a MASSIVE airport, so there was lots to look at. I wasn’t really excited about dragging my heavy backpack, purse, and coat around for 16-hours and unfortunately they didn’t have lockers (I asked), but I found a tiny cart to put my stuff in and that made my time there infinitely more enjoyable. I have zero cell service abroad, so I bought a Wi-Fi card at the airport so I could let my parents know all was well, and spent about an hour doing that. I spent a lot of time wandering over the next several hours. Had a beer at one of the airport bars, wandered, had a latte, wandered some more, and so on. There were so many people there, during the busier times of the day was something akin to trying to walk through the main thoroughfare at Summerfest, only with baggage. Around 3am I found a quiet gate to sit and read at for a while, and then later watch the sun come up.
My next flight left at 8:40am, and I got into Prague about 10:15am. Went through customs, grabbed my luggage (always excited when that works out – I blame England), and found the taxi stand I needed in the arrivals hall. They didn’t speak English, but they had my name on a piece of paper so I pretty much pointed at it and went, “That’s me!” A driver came and took my luggage, and then we went on a slightly terrifying drive through the city. Let’s just say he did NOT brake for pedestrians.
He took me to Hotel Pivovar where a girl named Tanya from my TEFL school was waiting to meet me. My flat was not ready yet, but she gave me some information about class and Prague in general, and then I wandered the area near the hotel for about an hour before going back to find my flat around 1pm. It was about 45-degrees and sunny and gooooorgeous. Oh, and there’s no snow right now. 🙂
My very, very tiny flat is in a building right next to the Hotel, and about 200-feet from the TEFL school. I’m sharing it with a girl named Alexa. We both opted for the slightly cheaper shared-room experience, which means we share a bedroom. We have a tiny bedroom, tiny kitchen, and an actually decent sized bathroom. Go figure. Sadly, she doesn’t seem to be feeling well so has pretty much been sleeping since I met her.
I, on the other hand, was absolutely dying to get out and see the city, so I changed clothes and freshened up a bit, popped in my iPod, and then headed out again. I headed up the street to the metro stop, purchased a 30-day metro pass (which involved a fair amount of gesturing and pointing because the lady in the ticket office appeared to have no idea what I was talking about) and took the metro into the city. I got off at Wenceslas Square, which is sort of the heart of the touristy part of the city, but it’s soooo beautiful.
They still have their Christmas market up, so I grabbed a cup of hot wine and wandered around Wenceslas Square for a while, basking in the sun and my own personal proud-of-selfness. It was wonderful. I wandered for a few more hours until the sun started to set and it started to cool off again.
I got back to the flat and spent some time checking in with the family and debating if I wanted to head out again to find food (I hadn’t eaten since the plane that morning), but exhaustion was finally setting in so I put on PJ’s and passed out shortly after that.
Not too bad considering I was running on about 7 hours of sleep in 48 hours.
This morning I woke up feeling much refreshed and was glad I had gotten properly caught up on sleep. I was once again dying to go out and see the city, so I asked Alexa if she wanted to go check out the Charles Bridge with me, but she still isn’t feeling well.
So off went World Traveller Holly again. I was going to try and find this expat café called Globe that my sister recommended for breakfast, but the metro stop I needed to get off at is closed for construction, and my phone doesn’t work without internet here, so I wasn’t able to get there. (I mapped it when I got back here, so I’ll try again tomorrow or something.) I did make it to Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge. I grabbed a croissant and a latte from a little place along the way – delicious!
I came back about an hour ago – and used the Facebook group the school set up for the people in our TEFL class to see if anyone else had arrived yet and wanted to explore with me, so I’m heading out in an hour to meet one of my classmates.
Whew! This has been a much longer post than I anticipated, but I suppose I had a lot of ground to cover – literally. HA! Bad travel joke. Anyway, I think that’s all I have to say for now. I don’t know how frequently I’ll post in this thing, but I’ll do my best to keep it up to date.
Love from Prague!