PLACES (of the earth & mind)

I'm on a bus...

John is a language enthusiast. He is sitting next to me right now on a bus to Vienna diligently studying German like a little, well....German. We didn’t do much leg-work before our last brief trip to Austria, and he was shamed by his inability to order a meal the local tongue.

For all the countries I’ve visited in the last 5 years, I can’t claim to have attempted much foreign language study other than “please”, “thank you”, “peace brother”, “another round” and “without meat” (the last of which is usually met with incomprehensible stares. I guess some phrases don’t translate in Asian countries.) 

Okay, at least I gave Japanese the old college try. I took two semesters of Beginners Japanese and treated it as I did most of my other classes, cramming it in around finals time, regurgitating it on the page and promptly forgetting it 10 minutes later. now that I am a language teacher myself, I realize just how awful the traditional method of learning languages is. High school French was never my forte either. It’s amazing that I suffered through 6 semesters and I can barely order a café au lait in Paris without evoking a tisk-tisk from the waiter as he corrects the gender of said café. The problem is, in order to communicate a very basic thought, you need to learn all the nouns, remember their gender, learn all the verbs and remember how to conjugate them. This can take years! I’m too impatient. I was also never very good at memorization anyway.

And here I’ve moved to a country with what is widely known as one of the hardest mother tongues in the world! There are entire words--nay--sentences without vowels. Well at least that’s how they sound to me. Thankfully, if you make an honest attempt to order in Czech, your waitress might actually crack a smile, correct you gently and, depending how generous she feels, reduce your tourist tax accordingly. 

We’re passing into Austria now. The rolling hills and vineyards look like something out of a movie. (gah, am I forever reduced to that banal expression?)  It’s true though, I have no other way to describe things here. Castle: “movie!” 600 year old clock: “movie!” Beer garden in a park atop a hill that overlooks the rooftops of Prague: “movie!” And a little bit of paradise too.


Saturday in Old Town


Prague Zombies!!

Something strange was happening on the streets of Prague 1 yesterday....

It started early in the morning, while I was on my friend David's tour of the Jewish Quarter. I'd see an armless zombie here, an ambulatory corpse there....

I didn't take much notice. I mean, this is's not unusual to see the ghost of Franz Kafka walking around town on the shoulders of a head-less suit or giant black babies crawling up city towers.

It wasn't until I got home that afternoon and John said "Hurry up get dressed, we're going to miss the Zombies!" Ah, yes. I'd heard tell of the Prague Zombie Walk. So I grabbed my camera and headed for the river. 

Never a people to discriminate against canines, the Praguers made sure the festivities were not limited to human corpses.

Over 750 Zombies showed up this year, though I'm sure it was hard to get an accurate headcount, what with all the severed ones.....


Prague is for Lovers


Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden

A cure for the April heat wave...wait a minute, why do we need a cure for that??