Pivo & Papers

Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic

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The Chata Phenomenon

They call it tramping in the Czech Republic. An idea of heading out into the wilderness with nothing but: yourself, a backpack, an instrument and maybe a few good friends. Tramping is about getting back to nature and letting go of everyday stresses brought on by the urban world. Looking back on tramping roots and the causes of this sub-culture formation, a good dose of tramping could be given to the global consumerist society we live in today.

Originating in the 1910’s- 1920’s, tramping was an unorganized offshoot of boy scouting; traveling through the woods and countryside to break free from society. In conjunction with tramping, the Chata phenomenon was born- small cabins made from wood or other found materials such as empty glass bottles. These cottages were built, many by hand, in forests and along riverbanks far out from the hustle and bustle of the urban landscape. Many Czechs have used chatas, in combination with tramping, as a way to escape on weekends and summer vacation. 

My professor Blanka has her own family chata just 30 minutes outside of Prague. Writing my mid-term paper on this Czech phenomenon, she was nice enough to invite myself and my classmates to see and experience it first hand. 

We had a great day- hiking down to the chata, getting stung by stinging nettle, cooking lunch over a campfire, seeing views of the settlement, having class at a picnic table over beers, and ending the day singing Czech folk songs by the river.

That’s why this lady…is a tramp.

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Divoká Šárka

Named after a mythic female warrior, this nature reserve is located just 10 minutes by tram from my dorm in Prague 6. While varying slightly by sources, in Czech Folklore it is said that during a time before Prague even existed, there was a male tribe on one side of the Vltava and a female tribe on the other. The women wanted to defeat the male tribe and knew the only way to do this was to kill the strongest male warrior, Citrad. The female tribe devised a plan in which their most beautiful warrior, Šárka was sent as bait. Šárka is said to have seduced Citrad and killed him while he was sleeping. Some versions of the story say Šárka actually fell in love with Citrad and was so overcome with grief that she in turn decided to kill herself by jumping off one of the cliffs.

Knowing the story behind the name of the reserve I have fallen in love with during my time here in Prague, I felt it was only fitting to create a photo series to reflect it. Here is my new-age female tribe of warriors. 

Filed under Divoká Šárka Prague Nature Reserve Czech Folklore Female Warriors

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What people keep secret is the most common, the most ordinary, the most prevalent thing, the same thing everybody has: the body and its needs, it maladies, its manias - constipation, for instance, or menstruation. We ashamedly conceal these intimate matters not because they are so personal but because, on the contrary, they are so lamentably impersonal.

Milan Kundera, Identity

(Famous Czech author who has quickly become one of my favorites)

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Going Vegetarian in Prague & for Life.

When you hear the words “Czech Republic,” visions of meat and potatoes may dance in your head. Not for me. Since arriving here in February I’ve gone vegetarian, and I haven’t been missing a thing.

Going vegetarian has always been something in the back of my mind. My roommate Sam is a vegan and has been veg since 2005. So with the combination of having a support system, being away from my mother’s amazing italian meat-filled meals, and just living in a completely new environment- I thought this was the perfect time for a life change. 

I have been vegetarian for about 2 & 1/2 months now, and it has not been difficult in any way. I have found some amazing vegetarian restaurants here in Prague, my favorites being Lehká Hlava & Maitrea; two sister restaurants with the most delicious flavor-blasted food! And as usual, have been cooking up my own concoctions. 

Experiences here are changing me for the better. Being away from home has given me the opportunity to focus on myself and the person I want to be; allowing me to realize that while I have been spending time trying to combat an ignorance of the world, I have been ignorant to the food that sustains me; both where it comes from and how it affects my body and our environment. 

A new leaf has been turned and the future…it looks fresh!

Filed under Vegetarian in Prague Maitrea Lehká Hlava Going Vegetarian activism

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A Fair Share of Fairs. 

Entering the gate for only 10 crown (50 cents) a familiar feeling came over me. Growing up as the daughter of a face-painter, I’ve had my fair share of fairs. The sooty-foggy feeling underneath your feet & in the air, the smell of sugars being spun into webs of cotton, and the sounds of music & laughter coming at you from every direction. Sam turned to me with the beaming smile of a child, “you like rides, right?!”

Round the path we went, winding through the vendors that lined it. All the same sights as home, but in place of your normal hot dogs, funnel cake, and soda cans - here were sausages, trdelníks, and who-woulda-thunk-it….beer! 

The rides at a glance were the same to that of any american spin-you-around-till-you-vomit ride (minus the kids in the bubbles on water-above photo). These ones however, blared european hits, seemed to have loose regulations (I was allowed to carry my backpack on with me), and had no ticket system; instead just charging at the tiny booths in front of each particular ride. Realizing this, Sam and I decided to choose wisely. Which wasn’t hard when we looked up into the sky and saw a towering swing carousel gleaming in the sun.  

In we went, up we went, and on came the magic. Laughter broke out immediately from the both of us. I felt like a kid again; icy wind in my face without a care in the world. I think this is what it means to be a kid again- not worrying about 2 years from now, not worrying about 2 days ago, just being in the here-and-now and letting the simple things enchant you. 

New travel motto: Let yourself be a kid again.

Filed under Czech Fair Kid again Kid in a bubble Swing Ride travel motto St. Matthews Fair Prague

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Vyšehrad

On Saturday I mustered up the energy to explore. Sam and I jumped on the Metro with no destination in mind. First the green, then the red. We ended up in Vyšehrad and took a left out of the Metro.

We walked through what seemed like a more run down area of Prague (and by run down Prague, I mean decent Philly). The adventure wasn’t going as planned, doubtful thoughts were had, and then interest was dropped in front of us. We turned the corner to this enormous stone wall that stretched far out of sight. The adventure was back on.

Walked up a hill, along a path, through a tunnel, up some stairs and there we were, smack in the middle of something amazing…and we had no idea what it was. Vyšehrad seemed part park- part village. Everyone was out with their kids, their dogs, their lovers, enjoying the warm weather and the jaw dropping views. Luck was proving to be steady; the sun was laying itself down for the day with a pink and blue closing performance from the sky. 

Vyšehrad, I later found with some research, is theorized to have been built sometime in the 10th century as the first settlement of Prague. It is an awesome little part of Prague that makes you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, let’s you clear your head on the winding paths, and has views that will stay with you for a lifetime.

I’ll definitely be venturing back soon with a packed lunch and a good book.

Filed under Vyšehrad Prague Beautiful Sights Basilica of St Peter and St Paul Exploring

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It happened…I’m a statistic.

1 of the 7,500 some people who get pick-pocketed in Prague each year.

Woke up with a mean head congestion. I let my bed hug me for a good majority of the day, angry at the grey sky that mirrored my inner and outer appearance. After much debate, my suite-mates (Sam & Gabby) and I decided it would be good to get out and grab a cup of tea. Somewhere among the gathering of tissues, I decided to try and make my day some what productive by exchanging the rest of my US dollars (about $350) into Czech koruna while we were out. Into my wallet it went and out the door we were.

We arrived at the cafe, some literature-hole-in-the-wall where the tea was cheap. We made our way into the farthest back room, where we could blow our nose without being angrily glared at. I put my backpack on the chair, opened up the back zipper and reached way down into my bag, where I safely store my wallet. We turned to walk to the bar to order some much needed tea therapy, but in came a waitress and down nestled my wallet in the top pouch of my backpack: where the low-life who, unknown to me, must’ve watched the entire confusion, sat down behind me, managed to scoot my backpack just enough behind my chair, and swooped it. It wasn’t until I went to pay that I realized my wallet was no where to be found.

We hypothesized that maybe somehow in my clouded head, I completely forgot to put my wallet in my backpack from the get-go. So back to my room I went, to walk into utter disappointment followed by ultimate panic. Called my mom who helped me call the bank, called my program director who called other program associates, sat in disbelief…called my mom back & cried. -Funny how you can be totally composed, and then as soon as you hear Mom…out come all your worst emotions and in come the water works. 

Back came Sam & Gabby from the grocery store equipped with double chocolate chunk ice-cream, paprika chips, Ferrero Rocher and a bottle of vodka. With a spoonful of ice-cream and a swig of vodka came a knock at the door; opened up to my friends Kash & Jaime, each with a bottle of wine in hand, one equipped with a bright red bow. Another 20 minutes passed and along came Jeff. Down went the booze, on went the music, and out came the laughter. 

Life happens; whether it’s the shitty luck of being sick and confused, in the right place at the right time with your guard down, or whether it’s having a group of friends you’ve known for 4 weeks who can completely turn one of your worst days into one of your best nights. 

I am in Prague. I am living out my dream. I have amazing people in my life.

Hey low-life…keep the $350. I’m over it.

Filed under pick pocket friends Mom makes everything better shit luck Prague