Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prague, A Wonderful Winter City

Over Christmas Break, I took a jaunt over to Prague with friends Yvonne, Rachel and Gisselle. These girls had never been to Prague before, and as traveling from Vienna to Prague is the equivalent of traveling from St. Paul to Madison, I joined the fun! Here we are at the top of Wenceslas Square showing our enthusiasm for this beautiful city, which was covered in snow during our visit.
The Jewish Quarter was a sight I've not seen on previous visits to Prague and one which I particularly enjoyed. Above is the Old Jewish cemetary. The gravestones are very close together and sit at crooked angles becuase (as our guidebook informed us) there are perhaps 100,000 bodies buried on top of one another in this relatively small space. It is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish graveyard. Below is a Jewish synagogue, now a part of the Jewish Museum.
This castle-like building is a church located on the edge of the Old Town Square. It's gothic towers were brilliantly lit up in the night sky. We tried to go inside, but just missed closing time by 15 minutes. Nearby is Prague's famous astronomical clock.
As stunning as the sights and history of Prague are, the highlight of this trip was being with good friends. I really liked seeing the city again, as if for the first time, through the eyes of Yvonne, Rachel and Gisselle. And evening meals together at Czech restaurants, mixed with good conversation and lots of laughs...this was a relaxing and refreshing vacation.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Taco Night!

One of the highlights of Christmas Break has been having a few guests over to my apartment. This is the family of a former student of mine. Miss Montoya and I made tacos for dinner and we enjoyed a lively evening together. We all played UNO after dinner and then enjoyed some Sara Lee cheesecake, purchased at the U.N. commissary. What a treat!

Schonbrunn Christmas Market

On Boxing Day, my friend Sara, her cousin Brian, and I went to the Christmas market at Schonbrunn Palace. This was the last day that this Christmas market was open. I especially enjoyed visiting this market because I didn't get to see many Christmas markets this year due to a long-lasting virus I caught. The booths were lit up and shopkeepers cheerfully worked to sell the last of their wares before closing up for the season.

After browsing the market, we walked through the palace gardens and hiked up the hill to the Gloriette. The dark figures in the front are Sara and me. The Gloriette is beautiful when it's lit up at night! We got there just as the sun was going down over the city.