Concerts to Castle Adventures

This weekend has been a busy week for me, lots to do but so little time. On Friday I travelled to Prague and stayed overnight so that I could see a concert. The once in a lifetime concert I wanted to see was Van son in Prague, Czech Republic. It was also the official taping for the next DVD. For the first time in 10 weeks I have never seen so many Vietnamese in one place before. It started exactly at 8pm and finished at 1am with no break time, pretty much my money’s worth of entertainment. My favourite singer Cat Tien was there and she was superb as always. I was also able to sneak in an autograph from her. Overall, it was an excellent night for me, live Vietnamese entertainment and accomplishing one of my goals of going to a Van Son taping. It just happens to be in the Czech Republic while I was here.

At 9am the next day, I was all pack and ready to hop on a bus and travel a further 2.5 hours north of the Czech Republic to Hartenberg  in the country side. I just wanted fresh air, to clear my head, away from social drama’s and technology. I’m so glad that I went on this trip, it was the best cultural experience of my life. I caught up with a few friends that was already there, and made a bunch of others.

We stayed in a small room where 14 of us bunched together in our sleeping bag. It was also located near a ruin castle. While there, the small town was celebrating a witch burning tradition where they get dress up in medieval costumes and re-enact how they burn witches back in medieval times. At first, we spent a few hours in the ruin castle in which the festivities were taking place and then hiked over the hill to the next town to burn the witches. Even though it was raining and cold, people were determined to see the burning of the witches. The festivities went on all night.

At night, we tracked back to the other town where the festivities went on all night. People ate, drank and danced throughout the night. We wrote our wishes on paper lanterns, lit them up and released dozens of them into the sky. It was a beautiful moment, the sky was filled with bright lit lanterns carrying our wishes.

The next day we woke up early, packed and got dressed. Before we left, we headed back to the ruin castle again in order for me to place a rock in the castle because I am the first Australian ever to be in Hartenberg and the first person from the continent of Australia. Yes, I have accomplished a lot this weekend, and I am very proud of it.

Even though we lived on necessities, no proper hygienic toilets nor shower and bedding, but in the end it was a great experience. This is something that I wouldn’t ever imagine myself doing let alone experiencing if I hadn’t come to the Czech Republic. The food that we cooked was also great and delicious and I was also able to meet a bunch of great new people and make new friends.

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Easter Ritual in Vinnarska

Easter Monday in the Czech Republic was a very interesting and fun experience. The day started off very early in the morning where the boys would knock on the girls door, wait til she opens it and then with her with a stick and throw water on her. Apparently its very privileged if a boy throws water on a girl because it means that the girl will retain her youthful beauty forever, maybe for a year! I didn’t answer my door when it was knocked three times on separate occasion because I was too lazy to get out of bed. No wonder my friend Peter whinged to me during dinner about not opening my door, he was the culprit that was determined to not only wake me up but to throw water at me. But I know it was all for fun, but I wasn’t in the mood to get saturated early in the morning and hop back to bed again.

Then I spent most of the day in my room just in case I get dumped with water if I leave, which happened to many girls throughout the day.

Normally, I would dislike Easter, but this year I threw a dinner party in my room since my roommate was away in Berlin. It turned out to be a success, there was no left overs and we had fun playing drinking games afterwards. I am seriously so proud of my cooking skills that I have developed within the 9 weeks that I’ve been here. I made lamingtons and a big pot of curry all by myself, with the exception of my friend Frantisek who helped peel potatoes. The pot of curry was able to feed more than 12 people. We also had polish soup, fruit salad and cupcakes brought over by the German girls, pasta and steam chicken soup with egg (amazingly tasty and delicious) by my Japanese friend, and vegetable and chicken curry by my Czech friend.

Lamingtons

Spending Easter in the Czech Republic with friends that I’ve just met just 9 weeks ago was an awesome experience. I always thought Easter was boring, religious and commercialised, but not until I came to Vinarska where it totally changed my perception. It’s about spending time with people that you actually like and having fun like a big family.

I now know the true meaning of ‘stoned’ during this Easter and wish to never hear it again ;-).

Hurray, I’m finally upto date with 2 weeks of not blogging!

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Easter Saturday in Bratislava

On Saturday, my two Germans friend invited me to Bratislava, Slovakia for a day to celebrate Easter since I couldn’t travel to Austria again to visit Stroudsburg with the rest of my other friends since I don’t have a passport. It was a beautiful day since the sun was out and it was warm. Bratislava to my surprise was pretty small to be the capital city of Slovakia. However, there was alot of tourist there and alot of Asians to, the most I’ve seen so far. We spent the whole day just strolling around the city, visited the palace up on top of the hill and took a nap on top of a wall that surrounded the palace. By half an hour we were all tanned, I notice other tourist were red by the end of the day.

 

 

 

Random Statue throughout Bratislava

We had lunch at a Spanish restaurant. It was 6.95 euro to have an all you can eat vegetarian and tapas buffet. I can never eat salad as a meal let alone by itself, but I must admit, this was the best vegetarian meal that I had ever had in my life. Every food was new, strange and delicious as it fitted my taste bud very well. I never knew vegetables can be this tasteful and extremely delicious.  

We ended the day with an ice cream and long island ice tea, as we watched the sunset over Slovakia before we headed back to Brno. Overall, Bratislava was a nice city to visit and spend no more than a day in. They had interesting statue randomly placed throughout the city which was amusing to see. This could be the most relaxing and enjoyable Easter that I’ve had in a very long time. No stress at all!

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Why come to Masarykova University to Study?

The International Student Club at Masarykova University is just amazing, better than the student club back home. Each week they organise a lot of fun activities for Erasmus and international student to do. For example, last Wednesday they organised 120czk tickets to see Romeo and Juliet ballet which I attended since I never seen a ballet show before. It was a very enjoyable experience for me, I really loved every second of it.

Every Wednesday night at 8pm, they would hold country presentation night where people from all around the world would make a 15 minute video clip to present to other students about the history, culture and exciting facts or places about their country. Not only watching the video was fun and exciting, but also trying traditional dishes of different countries each week makes it worthwhile to be excited about something here each week. By saying that, last Wednesday was Australia’s turn to present along with Spain and Bulgaria. Not to be bias or anything, Australia’s presentation was the best that night, we even added subtitles in our presentation so just in case people couldn’t understand our accent. There’s only two Australian here this semester and I’m one of them. We stayed up until 4am in the morning on Wednesday cooking and finishing off our presentation video. I slept for four hours and woke up at 8am, and made continue to make food. By 6pm, we’ve made approximately 120 spiders, lamingtons and baked ANZAC biscuits. We had great review on the video presentation and food we made especially the ANZAC biscuits in which someone asked for the recipe to. I would upload the video, but Youtube won’t allow due to copyright laws on the music we used.

On Thursday the ISC held a Easter Fun Run. It was just like the Amazing Race but just around Brno. I was team leader for my group, allocated the team colour of blue. It was a fun and exciting day running around like maniacs through Brno completing each task and solving each problem. However, once we completed all 10 tasks and was handed our last piece of the puzzle to the map that was where we struggled the most. We spent an hour trying to decode the puzzle, but we couldn’t figure it out and the red team caught up an hour later, decode it in 10 minutes and left. So my team gave up and headed back to the ISC to ask for the answer. However, as we were at the red light, we saw the red team on the opposite side waiting for it to go green. Then it hit us, the treasure chest was on the top of Spielberg. As soon as it turned green, we all bolted, my team ran through a red light and stopped traffic as we raced up the hill thinking we’re first or second. We pretended that we knew the answer as well but we found out the red team didn’t know either as they were following behind us and we tried to split from them but they were still following. When we got up to the very top, to our disappointment, another team was already there waiting for us. Even though we came second, I wasn’t disappointed at all because I had fun and it was a great exercise. This moment makes it to my top 10 favourite day of my life, and to top it off, they had cold cans of beer waiting for us.

Even though I was exhausted and tired afterwards, I somehow managed to get dress and attend the tram party afterwards that was also organised by the ISC. We party on the tram as it took us around to places. Stopped at a certain location and then students from the other two university would get out of the tram and huddle to the middle. It was a great opportunity to meet other international students. It was also a new and weird experience as there were no toilets so the girls would go find a behind a block, all lined up and dropped their pants and squat. That probably stopped me from drinking that night.

Even though I only wrote about a few things that the ISC organise for international students at Masaryk, there are plenty of more cool things which I will include later on in my post about my daily life in the Czech Republic since I know most of you guys are wondering what do I do each day when I only have class twice a week. But I highly recommend it to anyone who want to study abroad to attend Masarykova University just they could participate in all the cool things that the ISC organise.

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Ending a Crazy week in Lazy Czech Paradise

Last week has been a hectic week as I had to attend seminars each morning til the afternoon all week and also had to give to presentations on topics that I had no idea about on Thursday, especially about Taiwanese voting behaviour. However, I eventually managed to get everything over and done with. I celebrated by throwing ‘country food night’ in my dorm where people bring food from their country of origin to share with other people. I was very proud of myself since I never cooked any proper food in my life and that night I made Pad Thai. When there’s a party, there are always alcoholic drinks involved, and I had a few too many that night which made it difficult to get up the next day to get ready for the weekend in Czech Paradise. It was a much needed weekend getaway after the last hectic two weeks. I was able to relax and sleep in for the whole weekend.

On Friday we visited Trebechovice which were famous in the Czech Republic as many Easter fairy tale originated from them. We also visited sites that were listed in the UNESCO world heritage list. To me, those places weren’t interesting or fascinating at all. So I didn’t pay much attention to what we were seeing. It looked similar to all of the other towns and buildings that I’ve seen in the Czech Republic.

And once again, we climbed to the top of the clock tower in the middle of the town which looked pretty much the same from everywhere else in Europe.

We started Saturday morning off by taking an hour bus trip to Cesky Raj, I assume that it means Czech Paradise in English after translation to do a three hour hiking trip up, down and around the rock formation. To me it wasn’t interesting at all, it was just good exercise with good open air since to me it was similar to the Blue mountains. But once again, this weekend was all about relaxing and not doing anything dramatic that involves information overload about history for once.

Our next stop was to visit an old castle isolated in the middle of nowhere in between the valley. I must say, this was one of the best located castles that I’ve seen so far. It was peaceful and quiet there. Nothing at all was renovated, it still gave you that all ancient feeling, like you’re going back in time. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip to see this isolated castle that wasn’t a tourist attraction.

Inside the Torture Chambers

Inside the Torture Chambers

We had a quiet day on Sunday  visiting the zoo. It was the worst zoo that I’ve seen in my life. They had many cages and den filled with the same animal. I saw three types of zebra and giraffe from different parts of Africa, lots of birds and fish and the rest of the animal have gone away for the winter and hasn’t returned yet. By far, this has been the worst place that I’ve visited so far.

Mammouth

Even though this maybe the worst trip ever since I didn’t enjoy anything besides the castle, however, it was a relaxing trip getting away from everything, especially the internet and Facebook. Having a lazy weekend doing practically nothing in which I hadn’t done in a long time ever since I’ve been in Europe indeed was very much needed for me. I can now conclude that I have explored most of the Czech Republic and it wasn’t all about residing here so I could study and travel around to other countries.

Two Volcanoes

Inside a Chateau

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Ending the week in Kutna Hora

Once again, I had to wake up early again on Sunday to get ready to go to Kutna Hora, a hisorical town in the centre of Bohemia, that was founded in the 12th century. It took approximately 2-3 hours to get to by train. But I must say, it was worth it in the end.
 
This was probably one of the best towns that I’ve been to in the Czech Republic so far. It was a beautiful small town with alot of sightseeing places such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, St. Barbara Church, Italian Court, Marian Column and Sedlec Ossury which housed 40,000 skeletons bones that is sculpted into artworks. The archititecture inside St. Barbara cathedral was amazingly beautiful. It was enormously huge and very detailed especillay in the ceiling. I throughly enjoyed it as I have never seen let alone been in a place like St. Barbara before so it was very fascinating and interesting for me. We strolled throughout the town with each street there is something fascinating to see and it gave us that old ancient vibe that is very different from back home or anywhere else that I’ve been.

St. Barbora's Cathedral

 

We also went to an old mine and went underground, squeezed in between rocks and there was also a very beautiful underground pond there with sparking green water.

To save money, we went to TESCO and bought bread buns and potatoe salad, sat in the middle of the street next to the railway track to have lunch. A very enjoyable moment!

I had a very enjoyable Sunday, especially with my group of close friends here who most of them attended this trip to. We had a hilarious weekend full of laughter, especially when I’m with Amy and Lyndsay who never fail at making me laugh. Kutna Hora is highly recommended if you needed a one day weekend getaway, there was plenty to see there.

Because of this long weekend trip, I am way behind in finishing off let alone start my two presentation as I was extremely tired by Sunday night, to make matters worst, I had a week long seminar starting Monday morning then ending the week again with another weekend trip which I will write about very soon. But it was all worth it in the end, its a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in Europe let alone travel in Europe!

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Travelling local to Lednice

After spending the day in Vienna and then coming back home late, followed by a Jenga party that I promise that I would host til late, I was up early again on Saturday morning to go to Lednice, a UNESCO listed  heritage Chateau built in the 18th century in South Moravia. It contains a palace and the largest park in the country, which covers 200 km². I must say, this chateau was massively huge, just like a fairytale, but to my disappointment, the back half of it was covered in scaffold and construction stuff as it was getting renovated so there wasn’t much opportunity to take good pictures.

Lednice Chateau

Lednice Chateau

 Inside the chateau was very detailed from the timber carving of the ceiling to the staircase. The furniture in the chateau looked the same to all of the other chateau that I’ve visited, old and elegant with patterned fabric chairs. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but I tried to sneak a shot in of the staircase. However, what caught my eyes the most were paintings of portraits on the wall of the beautiful lady who lived there. Apparently, she gave birth 23 times but only 9 survived.

Another interesting story is that if you are a girl and look into the giant mirror, you will get married that same year. And if you are a women and you looked into that mirror, you will get pregnant that same year, no wonder why that lady became pregnant so many times. None of us dared to look at ourselves in the mirror just in case the myth was true.

We also stopped by John’s castle situated in the ruin of Lednice. It wasn’t the greatest Castle that i’ve seen, but it was kind of mysterious being situated in the ruin. Inside the castle was also pretty ordinary, there wasn’t much to see or anything interesting. It’s probably also due to the guide speaking only in Czech!

John's Castle

Even though there wasn’t much to see in Lednice besides the Chateau, it was an enjoyable relaxing Saturday just to get out of my dorm since I still have no passport to travel anywhere far by plane.

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